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.