Back to Reality, So Long Japan

Grand Champion’s Cup was a brutal tournament and it was brutally awesome. We wouldn’t want it any other way. 5 Tough matches in 6 days. We battled, worked out butts off, and learned a lot from our trip to Japan. We finished second to Brazil and pulled off a couple exciting matches in crunch time.

Team @ the Awards Ceremony

Team @ the Awards Ceremony

View of the court

View of the court

For the back half of the tournament, we stayed in a pretty busy part of Tokyo and had our few chances to see the crazy hustle and bustle that Tokyo is known for. I would love to come back one day and see what this city really has to offer.

Tokyo

Tokyo

Bright Lights, Big City

Bright Lights, Big City

All in all, it was an awesome 2 weeks- a great treat to play with Team USA all the way into November 🙂 It felt like a little holiday/vacation… with a lot of sweat and hard work added in! But now we part ways and head back to our respective Pro teams to push through December and the rest of our seasons until we see each other again come this summer in America.

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2 Week Hiatus for Team USA & The Grand Champions Cup

First things first, getting the team back together was one of the best things ever. After some long crazy travel there’s no pick me up like the beaming faces of your teammates you haven’t seen in a month. After working so hard together over the summer, separating, and now coming back together, it felt like one big family reunion in Japan!

First pic meeting up in the Tokyo airport!

First pic meeting up in the Tokyo airport!

We arrived 1 week before the beginning of the tournament to train and get our groove back together as quickly as possible. As much as we love playing together and how much easier it is since we all speak the same language and trained together all summer, it’s not easy to get on the same page in such a short period of time. USA runs one of the fastest offenses in the world so we must work with a lot of precision and timing. Once we left for our respective club teams, we all start working into their systems- different speeds, different positioning, different words. So getting a good week of work in is critical.

Japanese Olympic Training Center

Japanese Olympic Training Center

We stayed in the Tokyo Olympic Training center- basically a big facility with dorms, every type of sport facility, a cafeteria, and some other recovery facilities. It was really nice of the Japanese Volleyball Federation to let us stay there. Having our rooms, the gym, and the cafeteria all in one place is pretty convenient. The only problem we had was that the food was got pretty old pretty quickly. We (especially me) were excited to finally leave and check into the Nagoya Hotel at the end of the week and get some different type of grub.

Besides normal practice sessions, we scrimmaged the Japanese team a couple of times. If I look back at the summer… we have played against Japan (in tournaments, practices, or friendly matches) just about 11 times now. Needless to say, we know them pretty well!

One afternoon we took a little trip into Tokyo to meet with Mizuno Japan, our USA Volleyball sponsor. Mizuno keeps us looking fly and feeling good with the gear they provide us so it’s neat to be able to make an appearance and tell them thanks. We went to their offices first and were welcomed by a nice crowd and a lot of applause. Then we walked 5 minutes to the retail store and they let us do a little shopping! A great way to wrap the trip was with a team Starbucks run next door. Starbucks always feels like a little taste of America and home. It’s not so easily accessible for my in my bitty German city so I’m taking advantage of as many Starby’s as I can 🙂

Mizuno Store

Mizuno Store

Mizuno Headquarters

Mizuno Headquarters

Our signed jersey showed up on a mannequin! Cool!

Our signed jersey showed up on a mannequin! Cool!

Welcoming committee :)

Welcoming committee 🙂

I love when the barista's write in English for me :) So sweet!

I love when the barista’s write in English for me 🙂 So sweet!

The first part of the tournament is in Nagoya, about 4 hours driving from Tokyo. We took the bullet train there which was pretty cool. It took us just over an hour and a half from one station to the other. Fastest train I’ve been on! Once there, it was time to check in and get to work! One day to settle in and train before we take on the best in the world!

Train Time!

Train Time!

Time flying by

Time flying by

Sendai, Japan Gallery

Brazil Gallery

Surprise!

I’m still alive and kicking! I clearly dropped the ball on blogging, but thanks to some gentle prodding from my dad, I will at the very least get an update on here!

 

It’s been an unbelievably awesome summer. Literally unbelievable some days. Like, I have actually pinched myself on more than one occasion to make sure I’m in reality. I will try to get some specific posts up about my adventures over the past few months, but for now I’m gonna cut to the chase and just get you up to date.

 

I’m currently living in Anaheim, California and playing volleyball for Team USA. Literally, living the dream. I wake up around 7 every morning and head to the gym for a full day of practice, video, workouts and some laughs in between and finally drag myself out by 4 in the afternoon. I was fortunate enough to go to my first tournament, The Pan American Cup, in Lima, Peru back in June and came back with a gold medal. I got to play in 2 scrimmages against Japan (which we won) here in Southern California in July and hear my first “U-S-A” chant while playing. And now we’re preparing for a huge tournament (The World Grand Prix) that runs through all of August. I LOVE my job. It is a total grind with huge highs and awfully tough lows and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

 

More to come (hopefully 😉 ). Stay tuned!

PS I had written a decent chunk of entries from Jan-April about the back half of my time in France and the beginning of my time at home, but never posted them (I don’t know why, I’m silly). I don’t have any pictures linked up with them and didn’t get to edit so, yeah, but there is definitely new information if you check my last 5-10 entries 🙂