I know there was a blog yesterday, but today was an exciting day, so I had to share some of the stories before I forget them! As each day goes by, I am getting closer with my teammates and coaches, which is really making a huge, great difference.
This morning we did not have morning practice, so the two setters, Katja (cat-ee-a) and Noora (we call her Noppi like no-pea), took me around the city to show me the many beautiful spots in Finland. I will add a picture gallery so you can see all of the pictures I have taken thus far. I am sorry mom, I am awful at taking pictures, but thankfully iPhoto kills the editing game. We first went to this spa area in the woods where people swim and use the sauna, which led us to a tower that we hiked to. This tower was high up, so when you looked out from it, you could see the city which looks like Christmas trees and lakes. It was really an amazing sight. Then, we went to the castle of Hameenlinna, because the translation of Hameenlinna is actually “castle.” It was equally as cool! We got lunch, I got schnitzel and you can never go wrong with schnitzel. (Who doesn’t love a good chicken-fried steak tasting thing before a hard practice?) One thing I did appreciate was when they told me that the people in Finland are usually shy, so I shouldn’t feel bad for being quiet. 🙂
We did have afternoon practice, and as usual it was all ball control. This time, we did all of the drills we have been doing with our partner, but with two balls, instead of the standard one. This makes things very interesting and all I hear as I do these crazy things is CONTROL YOUR HARMS AND MOVE YOUR FEETS! USE YOUR LEKS! EVERY BALL IS BREAK POINT! (which means match point).
However, I am going to start to do little snippets of the people who I meet here, so you can get to know them too. This snippet will be about Luca, my assistant coach. He is Italian and African, and speaks good English, Italian, Spanish, Swahili, and French (and I am sure more). He was my partner for the first two days, so we have gotten to know each other very well. I want to include a tiny conversation that me and a few girls had with him after practice, when we do our cool down and stretch. One of the girls, Eva has a bad back, so Luca helps her stretch out, but he also gives some excellent relationship advice to us that we can definitely use in our futures. He always say, as he massages the muscles in her back: “Don’t you have boyfriend? This is job for boyfriend. He must do this. You ask boyfriend, then you ask mom, then you ask brother, then you can ask me for massage for 1000 Euros.” He served in the paratroops (?) in Italy and told us that during training they started with 126 and only 28 graduated. He lost 8-9 kilos and only slept 6 hours the whole first week. He also definitely has a great sense of humour, as we always look to Luca to laugh when Bruno tries to explain what we are doing wrong to us. Rica, a girl on my team who works during the day, was trying to explain her job to Luca and she kept saying she worked with kids, but he couldn’t understand, so my favourite quote of the day was: Kids! Like tiny, little people! He got it after that. He kind of reminds me of (a much shorter version of) Craig, who always made us laugh during the tough days.
My roommate is also here, and I will write more about her later, but English never sounded so sweet. She has played Ice Hockey in Austria last year, so she is teaching me the ropes for living in Europe. (One thing includes buying yellow-tinted glasses to increase optimism and positivity during the winter.. I needed those in Michigan!)
I have morning practice tomorrow, so I am headed to bed early today! Ciao!