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 🙂

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing EVERYONE a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving 🙂

Being in another country away from your family and friends for holidays is tough. It makes you think about what and who you’re missing. And on this Thanksgiving (as with most of them) I want nothing more than to be waking up in my bed in West Chester, having my dad whip up some French toast while we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; and start digging out the Christmas decorations with Hanson’s Snowed In CD playing while mom mans the kitchen. (Us Hagglund’s are not one bit ashamed to say that we LOVE the Hanson Christmas CD. Our Xmas music go-to) But alas, I haven’t actually had that Thanksgiving in 6 years now.

Even though I want nothing more than to have that Thanksgiving morning at home, I am so thankful that it is a memory these days.

For the first 4 Thanksgiving’s I missed, I was out playing volleyball at UW. Every year we had a match the day before and the day after Thanksgiving; we’d practice the morning of, with Jim always calling, “Pilgrims! Come here!” to start it off. UW was such a blessing for me and I am thankful that I played volleyball at that program, got my education there, and lived in Seattle. The friends, relationships, and experiences from those 4 years are untouchable.

Last year’s Thanksgiving I was in Vienna, Austria in my first season as a Professional Volleyball Player. How blessed am I to be able to say that I lived in Vienna for 7 months, being payed to play a game I love? It still doesn’t register to me that I’m a ‘Professional Athlete’ most days. Even with it’s ups and downs (there were plenty), there were so many life lessons I figured out, places I got to see, and new experiences I would NEVER otherwise be exposed to and I am thankful for the good and the not so good that came my way.

And now I’m in Nantes, France. Currently in my second professional season. Still waking up in the morning, and if someone asks me what I do for a living, the first two words I say are “I play…” I’m thankful for my Kristy and Coop, my fellow Americans keeping me sane, as well as the rest of my teammates and staff who only want us to succeed and be happy.

I’m glad that Thanksgiving memory at home is just that: a memory. It means I have been LIVING. So many adventures- new places, new people- I have been blessed to have opportunities to travel and try new things and see the world.

Like I said earlier, being away from friends and family on holidays is tough, but it’s because those people are so loving, so supportive, so precious to me that makes it tough. I am THANKFUL that you all make the holidays hard on me, because missing you would be easy if you all weren’t so amazing.

I hope everyone has a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

We (Coop, Kristy, Kristy’s boyfriend Shawn, and I) celebrated a day early. I made the meat, stuffing, gravy, and some pumpkin pie; Coop whipped up the most unbelievable yams as well as mashed potatoes, and Kristy brought the green bean casserole, some red velvet cake, and of course wine 😉 We had a small but amazing feast and celebration together.

Couple funny stories

First, I couldn’t find an actual turkey here in France. I tried the 2 main super markets without luck. So I had a contingency plan. I picked up a turkey leg and some other turkey ‘ball’ (I think it really was the turkey’s butt). I also wanted to grab a small chicken since Coop and Kristy didn’t usually have turkey for Thanksgiving anyways. So I grabbed one from the ‘special offer’ sale section and headed on my way. Little did I realize that I didn’t grab the ‘poulet’ (chicken), but some ‘pintade’… Guinea Fowl! What the heck?! Yeah, well there was no turning back! I told Kristy about my blunder and she says, “Well, are we still gonna eat it?” “Heck yes we’re gonna eat it!!!” It turned out to be a big hit too. Maybe we’ll even buy it again sometime 🙂

So, like I said we ate our large Thanksgiving meal (no one in their right mind wants to and is able to practice self restraint on Thanksgiving) Wednesday evening. Pretty late too, since our practice let out at 8pm. We walk into practice the next morning, still pretty swollen from dinner and what prey tell is our coach setting up? The SCALE. Yes. We were weighed in less than 12 hours after our Thanksgiving meal. That is just cruel and unusual. And ridiculously bad timing!

To Albi or Not To Be

After our eventful ride to the airport, it was back to business as we were on our way to Albi, France for our 4th match of the season still looking for our first win. We ended up needing 5 games to do it, but we no longer have a goose-egg in our record! Our team has moments of brilliance, and stretches of really nice play, but we’re still working on finding our confidence and being able to finish things when the game gets tight.

We had a long wait on Sunday before our 5 pm flight, so our coach and President took the girls who wanted to (which ended up being just the Americans) into the city center of Albi to see the Cathedral there. Albi is a smaller city in France and it’s old, but that means it’s go some real character to it. And I was surprised to see how large and beautiful the Cathedral is. There hasn’t been a Cathedral in Europe that hasn’t impressed me thought. Whether it’s the size, structure, architecture, art or designs, there is something unique and gorgeous about each and every one.

 

 

 

 

We also poked our heads in the art gallery of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a famous French painter who is known heavily for his works based off the Moulin Rouge and other French theatrical life in the late 1800s.

It was a quick trip around Albi before we headed back for team stretching, but it was nice to see another city in France, especially knowing that I will likely never see this place again. Makes me remember that every moment counts so you better make the most of it.

Paris Perspective

Good news: The season has begun!

Bad news: We’re 0-1

Good news: I finally had Starbucks!

Bad news: My iced chai latte was ice-less

Good news: I went to Paris!

Bad news: This was my view of the Eiffel Tower

I promise you, that little nub in the middle of the picture is the Eiffel tower. No, not the light post, the tiny vertical line to the right of it.

Although I may be contradicting all my good news, it was an exciting weekend and I can definitely say it showed a lot of potential.

We hit the road on Friday in a couple of vans to get to Paris, about a 4 hour drive. On the way (while stuck in traffic) we spotted the top of the Eiffel tower in the distance! It was both super exciting and so anti-climactic. It was so far away and tiny that it probably should’ve been considered a let down, BUT that’s not gonna stop my fun. We were still PUMPED to sneak a peak and try to get pictures.

That night after dinner at our hotel, being the American and former Seattlite that I am, I made a request to our coach about making a Starbucks run if one happened to be in our area. We got the green light: Starbucks was maybe 1.5 km (10-15 min walk) from our hotel. HALLELUJAH!  [fyi I LOVE Starbucks and have a serious weakness for Iced Chai Lattes with soy milk] So off we set, our 9 matching players and 2 coaches for an evening jaunt to Starbucks. I spot that glorious green sign in the distance only to find out… it’s CLOSED!

It was 8:56pm the second we got to the doors and apparently it closes at 9pm. An employee was sweeping out front and our coaches and teammates asked if they’d serve us but to no avail. Then it was my turn to try some begging, “But, I’m from America!” (bad choice). In a smart ass tone, “Oh, and there’s no Starbucks in America?!” Oops. We, as a group, go on to explain there is no Starbucks in Nantes. While that’s going on I decided to step into the open door of Starbucks and shuffle up to the register where a barista is by the register and putting away some pastries. I, ever so sweetly, asked “Pleaseeeee, would you mind if I get an iced chai latte? It’s so easy, just pour the concentrate and milk together with ice and it will be perfect. Please!” She stared at me for a few seconds and asked: Ice? YES, please 🙂 We don’t have ice. Okay! No ice works!

Starbucks 😀

So I got my ice-less iced chai latte, and it was still DELICIOUS 🙂 And the rest of my team ends up mosey-ing into the store and getting simple drinks as well. Bonus points for Starbucks and those employees! (except the first guy who discouraged us, boo to him)

Onto game day. It ended up being a pretty jam packed day for us. Started off with breakfast, then some quick film, before we headed to the venue for practice. At the gym, we had to take some pictures for the league or tournament first (side note: it is so difficult when photographers say “Okay, now do whatever you like.” Deer in the headlights is always the first reaction). After a lot more waiting than planned, we had our 45 minute pre-game practice, and sped back to the hotel. We didn’t have much time to squeeze in lunch, rest, film, packing up, and a snack before departing the hotel, but we managed.

Pictures

We played our first match against a team from Mulhouse. They finished 2nd in the league the past few years and are a solid team. We came out really fired up, knowing that we have the ability to compete at their level. We took the first 2 sets, and then just ran out of gas and dropped the match in 5. It is so frustrating, and we had a match point opportunity in the 4th, but it wasn’t meant to be. Really wanted the ‘W’ but it was an exciting match, a respectable way to open our season, and its good knowing that we can and will be much better as the season progresses.

Also, I need to note how AWESOME our fans are! We had a solid following of 30+ Nantes-ians(?) who made the trek with us (not to mention family and friends from other cities) and had drums and flags and kept the neutral site rocking in our favor for the match. Can’t wait to play in front of them at home!

Afterwards, we had to go directly back to Nantes. Grabbed dinner on the road and got back to the apartment around 3:20am Like I said action packed way to start the season.

Even though things may not have gone as picture perfect (achem, literally in regards to the Eiffel Tower and photos) it’s all about perspective. It was an exciting and promising start to our season… I plan on seeing the Eiffel Tower up close next weekend, getting that Chai Latte again with Ice, and taking that win back in the rematch. I like what the future holds!

Entering the gym

Game Time

 

It’s finally here! First match of the regular season is tomorrow night! We got to Paris earlier this evening, and are getting prepped for the season opener.

Our match is 7:30 Paris time (1:30pm et/10:30am pt) and can be streamed live here:

http://www.lnv.fr/live.html

We play against a team from Mulhouse, France who has finished second in the league the past few years, so we’ve got a tough fight ahead of us, but we are prepared and hungry!