I can be your Lance Armstrong

A lot of firsts going on over here! The first first (LOL) is that we have moved into the new arena, which is beyond sick. In our locker room we have showers (pretty standard unless you aren’t in to that), a sauna, a massage table, and shelves are being built so we can have food and PROTEIN SHAKES/supplements. There are 16 of these locker rooms in the arena, and this has been the first week where I have seen people from other sports like hockey and gymnastics, because we all use this arena now. This leads into the second first which is the arena is a little farther than the old gym we were practicing in.. It is actually about 2.5 miles away, so I have also started my Tour de France training. I am actually not a very good bike rider.. I never really have been. When I tried to learn, I remember I was in some grass and my mom stood me up on the bike and I think I was too scared to pedal so I just tipped over on my side. This is weird to me because spinning is my favourite work out? AND, this leads me to my third first: It has snowed. It didn’t stick on the ground, but there were flakes. It was September 23 when this happened, and I don’t think this is the best sign of the winter to come. I have heard from my teammates that in the East, there has already been about 3 inches.

Another first: the first full weekend plus Monday off. I cannot even explain to you the excitement I had after we were done with our “friendly match” on Friday (even after getting our butts whooped). Not setting an alarm has never been so awesome. Off days are dangerous. They are scary because you love them so much you don’t want to return to your daily schedule that you previously had been a part of. This was very true of my off days. Saturday was me in bed pretty much all day.. I watched some rom-coms on Netflix along with some Mad Men (Christina Hendricks is so sexy), and then Noppi and I went out. I bought this whiskey/brandy (?) from the liquor store because a bartender once told me that “all of the Finnish rockstars drink it,” and being like a rock star is what I live for. Kidding, but it sounded cool. Highlights from the night: requesting Anaconda with Noppi and getting it changed after 30 seconds, a 3 Euro cookie that I apparently did not care was extremely over priced, and getting a huge pizza (that was my first Finnish pizza). I love that they put pineapples on pretty much everything, because I love pineapples on my pizza. Sunday was another pretty chill day, I had a sugaring appointment, the equivalent to American waxing, went on a run (when I was pretty far out, it started to pour), and made this avocado banana hair stuff that hasn’t really done anything for my hair.

MONDAY. Monday really made me want to make something that will make me billions so I can live in a big city, never work, and just look fly for life. I went to Helsinki and this time I really wanted to check out the Design District. They have some really cool museums like the Finnish Architecture museum, the design museum, the art museum, etc. I am a nerd for big cities and the design of them because that is what I studied in college and if I had enough money to buy the clothes that I pin on Pinterest, I would look fly in the city. Also, I had my first pumpkin spice latte and paid the American equivalent of 9 dollars for it (that is what the selfie is of.. completely basic, but completely necessary). I drank that thing so slow and can honestly say that I got my money’s worth. I also had my first macaroon which I am now addicted to. Macaroons, to me, are like edible pillows of sugar. Find something bad about an edible pillow of sugar and we can chat. I got to go to an art museum that explained the HUGE peeing boy statue in Helsinki by the market square, and this artist is kinda freaky. He has plenty more peeing statues, I saw them all in his section of the museum. He said something like he just molds stuff together and is always surprised by what comes out of it, but I don’t know… Can an artist really not know that what he is molding is going to make a peeing boy statue?

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World’s Greatest Practice Player

I started to write this blog and I like to be organized when I write, so usually I have sections of the different things that happen in the week. This past week, the only things that happened were volleyball morning and night, and one night of too many glasses of whiskey with my roommate.

This is the sixth week of 2-a-days, and the three day break is so close. The list of things to do over the break so far: go to Helsinki to enjoy fall’s first (and potentially last) pumpkin spice latte. At Michigan, any time we traveled during Big Tens, we would find the nearest Starbucks to our hotel and get a delicious pre game PSL. Now, I will be travelling an hour to taste the sweet nectar, but I guarantee I will enjoy this more than all of you in America who take PSLs on every corner for granted.

This past week was one of the most physically demanding weeks I have experienced in my volleyball career. We had two a days all week and then had a tournament in Salo, about an hour South, playing 5 matches in 3 days. Playing in Europe, there are less substitutions in a game, so as an outside, you stay in until it appears you forgot what volleyball is, or there are enough subs at the end of the game. It was an exciting tournament for me, because a ton of teams from the FINN League were there and I got to see who we would be playing against when playoffs come.

I am going to go on a tangent and give you a little info about me as a player. I am a great practice player, I always have been. This isn’t me bragging, it’s kind of a weird problem. I love practice. I can kill it in practice, I take risks, I completely blow things and can bounce back for the next play, BUT I get very, very nervous before games. I don’t like when I can see people I know in the stands. In Finland, that really isn’t a problem, though! This weekend was interesting because I got nervous like I usually do (when this happens, I can’t communicate very well, I move very slow, and sometimes I black out), but going from college to professional volleyball, things are different. The coaches in college kind of help you group, they have been with you for 4 years, so they should know how you operate, what your mental strengths are and what the weaknesses are. Their job is to develop you as a person and a player, and win games. Here, that is not the case, you are expected to be a developed player. You are paid to perform and the coaches are not paid to coddle you if you are nervous. I like my coaches here, 1) because they make everything sound so easy (this can get annoying when things really aren’t that easy), but 2) they focus on details. They know that it is hard to win every game, so they don’t put that pressure on us. When we are doing bad, they yell (a lot of Katzos and Putanas), but they like to focus on the system they taught us and the technique that we are supposed to use. It’s very helpful because my first instinct when I mess up is to tell myself “don’t mess up again” (LOL). My coaches kind of cut that part out because they are yelling at me, giving me tiny changes I can make to fix my mess up.

I guess it worked out pretty well because we got second this weekend, losing to the team who wins every year and who has a lot of players from the Finnish National Team. It was a fun tournament, and very humbling seeing women of all ages playing. I got blocked by a lady who was 41! She could have been my mom!

Then, when I got home, Kristina and I decided we would go get some candy. Then we decided we would take a shot at our local bar, The Public Corner. Then, this shot turned into a long night at the bar with many shots and sneaking our candy in. I don’t know why, but I think this is really funny. So, this guy came up and was talking to us about how he was from Helsinki and all that jazz, it was late I don’t remember all of the details. He asked what our names were and my roommate introduced me as “Anastasia, an Ice Hockey player from Canada,” before I could say Lexi. So, this guy kept asking questions about Canada, and I am pretty sure he asked what good beers are from Canada. I, in all seriousness, googled it. I responded with “I think the good kind is called Canadian Beer.” I googled Canadian beer, and it came up on wikipedia, and I thought that it was a brand. It’s more sad, but the guy didn’t even question it. Go Fins.

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Will twerk for new legs

I wanted to start by just sharing who loved I have felt these past couple weeks. It has been a challenging, new experience being here, yes, but I am so thankful for the people in my life who have reached out, sent funny jokes, encouragement, life updates, etc! It makes my day being able to connect back home. With that being said, I am finally finding my place on the team, getting to know the girls, and have people to hang out with! This also makes things a lot easier and fun being far away from home.

This past weekend, we had a training trip in Rovaniemi, which is where Santa Claus Village is located! It was an absolute blast, we had practice in the mornings and a game each night! The food was amazing and I think we enjoyed eating too much because every meal we would all talk about how excited we were for the next one. We stayed in two houses with six beds each, so it was a nice bonding experience. I stayed with the 2 Belorussians, Noppi, Riikka, and Marina (the team manager who played at LSU). Things we did while at home: watched the Anaconda music video too many times, went in the sauna, made jokes about how we have messed up practice, girl talked, NAPPED, and walked around in underwear because it was so hot in that house.

Some fun highlights:

  1. After practice, we were stretching and Noppi and I were joking around and cussing when she stopped me to tell me she had to stop cussing. The quote was: “I have to stop cussing, I am polite like a cool bitch.” We died laughing and that whole weekend (after I told them in the states, sometimes girls greet each other by saying “hey bitch!”) they used bitch after everything. We were strong bitches when we lifted, we were crazy bitches when we made jokes, we were sleepy bitches at night. I don’t know why, but this was hilarious to me. Tuesday morning when we had lifting, Riikka saw me walking and yelled “Good morning bitch!”
  2. Americans! A guy I know through coaching camps at Michigan in the summer plays in Rovaniemi. He came to watch the games because the girls we played were the girls from his club. It was really cool to briefly chat and speak English at a fast pace. It is weird though, because I have a feeling my English is getting worse. The american on the other team introduced herself to me too, so it was kind of like a bonding moment, how cute.
  3. I made a bet with my assistant coach, Luca, and won a beer out of it. Six girls passed around 1 beer in the sauna to make quite a loco party!
  4. LANGUAGE BARRIERS! These can be frustrating at times, but this weekend they were particularly funny. My teammate was describing a cook to me, but she kept calling it cock. “Lexi, the cock who makes food. The cock in the kitchen!” We had a lesson about the difference between cock the rooster and cock the other cock.
  5. Santa! We got to see him! The real one! He knows all the languages and is a true leader.

Personal Update:

I miss compliance limiting practice hours every week and regulating off days, but I don’t miss being statted every single practice. My coaches are so so so cool. They aren’t easy or nice by any means, but they are fair and hold every player to the same standard. My coach is harsh at times, but you can tell he loves what he does and cares about every one of us. When we do defense drills, he loves making you mess up so he can yell “MY BOINT GIRLS!” and “MOZARELLA!” The other day he was serving at the passers and we passed one of his harder serves perfect. He stopped practice and told us that if we ever passed his hard serves perfect again we could tell him to fuck off. I am constantly laughing in practice because the way he explains things, corrects our mistakes, congratulates us, are some of the funniest things I have experienced in a while.

We had a talk with our coaches today about what we eat. The coaches weren’t rude at all, they never told us we were fat, but they said they noticed our eating habits were not the best for pre game. They said: “It is difficult to have this conversation with girls, but we noticed you all took too many trips to the bread basket in the buffet this weekend.” We all laughed, because it was totally true. The bread here is amazing and even my coach said “I know how hard it is to resist girls.”

Last update: I get weighed every Tuesday. It is sometimes a little stressful on the mind, but my roommate and I have started a tradition that every Tuesday is now “Fat Tuesday” and we go get tons of candy Tuesday night to binge on. Last night we walked in a monsoon to multiple candy stores (because some were closed at 9) to find our candy. It is an amazing tradition. We also held our candy in our pockets on the way home in the rain, and both stopped talking simultaneously to take out the candy when we walked under the dry bridge. It was an unreal connection.

I am going on week 5 of two a days and seem to not be slowing down any time soon! Pray for my legs!

 

The Good, Bad, and Funny of my last week

It is really easy for me to portray my life here in Finland as amazing and as my Italian coach would say “with no problem girls,” BUT I want this to be an accurate portrayal of my life, so this blog may be a little more real than the past. I promise I will keep some funny stuff in, because being serious is very difficult for me.

I gotta start off with something hilarious, though. So, every week, we have practice every other morning and then lifting (we call it gym) the other mornings, and then practice every night. I want to give you all a little taste of what this gym is like, because it is not like most gym experiences I have had in the past. First, it is called Sportimekka, the sports mecca, a temple, if you will. Second, there are these women who lift with earphones in, and when things start to get harder for them, if you close your eyes, you feel like you are at the OBGYN and there are at least 5 women giving birth to very, very large children. Third, there are these posters all over the gym, and I wanted to add them to this blog for you:

photo 1-3 photo 2-2

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