Female Volleyball Players = Expert Wedgie Pickers

A few weeks ago, my roommate, an ice-hockey player, came to my game. The reaction she had to possibly her first volleyball game ever was: “You guys pick your wedgies a lot.” I really didn’t think about it before she had mentioned anything and then I realized, having to wear spandex all the time creates a lot of situations for picking wedgies (your spandex ride up, move around, etc.) I then thought about how routine picking a wedgie has gotten for me in all aspects of life, at any given location: formal or informal, which ultimately made me realize that maybe I should be more private about picking wedgies.

As I write this post, I am feeling like I may be giving you all too much of an inside look into my life, but so far my life has been volleyball and sleeping, so little details become very exciting for me.

The end of regular season is approaching, as we play our last match on Sunday before playoffs begin. It is crazy to me how far I have come from the beginning of the season. I have gotten close, really close, with some of my teammates as I have seen them twice a day almost every single day I have been here. So close that now we all notice even the tiniest, most minuscule changes in each other’s lives. For example, I got new sweatpants for myself for Valentine’s Day (not your basic huge sweats.. classy, sleek, and modern sweats). The first day I wore them, everyone said something about the new sweats. If someone dyes their hair or gets a trim, it really is noticeable. I, for some strange reason, always end up with one sock right-side-out and one sock inside-out. I am a lazy laundry lady, so I never really take the time to change all the socks to their right side, but my teammates have picked up on that. One day a few weeks ago, I must have had both socks inside out and it was like everyone and their mother noticed it. I didn’t even notice it, and that is saying something about how observant my teammates are. I can count on them to notice everything from a new pair of shorts to a new thong, and that is how close I have gotten with all of them.

Not much is new in my life, so I thought I would give you an inside scoop into some of the language barrier situations I face on a daily basis. First, I want to say my coach tries very, very hard to speak English, and I know he is not the most comfortable with the language. Sometimes he mixes things up and it gets confusing, but you learn to just nod your head and try to figure out what he means, sometimes after being yelled at multiple times, but you figure it out nonetheless. Maybe telling you won’t be as entertaining as it is in person, but a few situations stick out in my head. First – when my coach explains a drill that requires a complicated points system, for example, we will play a game where running certain plays get you more than 1 point, so you can work on those specific plays, but also scrimmage normally. I have never been so confused in my life during the explanation of these drills. My coach will start to explain (“one point for this, if this happens, you get 3 more chances to score, if you lose the other team gets two chances to score, etc.”) and we all look around after he explains to see if anyone knows what is going on, and we all have no clue. Second – the mix up between today and tomorrow. My coach tends to mix these two terms up, which makes it challenging to understand when certain events and practices are going to happen. (at morning practice, my coach could say practice tomorrow at 16.00 and that could/probably means practice today at 16.00)  Third – the mix up between yours and theirs. During video, my coach will tell us if the team we are going to play has gotten better or worse since we played them last. He will say things like “your level go very down” which means “the other team hasn’t gotten better since we last played them”, but it sounds like he is telling us we suck. We have figured it out as of late that the your means their level go very down. Fourth – and my all time favourite – my coach says LEX instead of LEGS, which can make me paranoid when I am not paying attention and I hear the word “lex.” A few months ago, the passers were doing a drill where your partner chunks a ball and you have to shuffle backwards, get your body around the ball, and pass it to the target. My coach was yelling “move your lexi’s” and it absolutely made my life.

Finally, I got sick for the first time and I have been surprisingly not soft about it. I figured this is the time I would get all homesick and yes, I really wanted my mom to bring me food to my bed, but without a caretaker, this means you can create your own sick people diet. Today, to make myself feel better I had loads of honey nut cheerios, honey-chili almonds, tiramisu covered almonds, dried coconut, chocolate covered almonds, toffee, 3 loaves of rye bread, carrot soup, and a lot of ibuprofen. I do believe I am the best caretaker I have.

More life updates to come after playoffs begin. Until next time!

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My yoga pants fell down in practice today

Something that is different here than in the states: you can wear yoga pants in practice. I resisted for a long time because I love spandex, they are like a comfy pair of underwear that covers your love handles. However, my legs get cold in practice now that it is snowing here, and today I tried the yoga pant trend. The problem is I tried a pair that were not exactly the skin tight material you need for ultimate coverage in all situations. I am warming up like normal, and then we start to do this drill where you stand on the court with the coach and he just throws a ball barely off of the ground wherever his heart desires and you have to just kind of dive and somehow manage to get the ball back to him. (Apologies for the run-on.) Well, I dive and realize that my ass is way out, only because I hear tons of laughing. Think twice before following the crowd and stay unique people.

Last weekend the team flew back up to Santa Claus Village and this time I got to meet up with an old friend from Michigan Volleyball camp, Joe. It just so happened we didn’t fly home until Friday afternoon and were done Thursday, so my teammate and I met some of their team at karaoke. It was a blast, and now that I think about it, Joe and I were the only ones who actually sang any of the songs. I was really nervous to sing at first, I guess it has been a while, the last time I “sang” was The Jug in June when Sabol and I rapped Candy Shop. So, naturally, Under The Bridge was a song that hit the low notes, the super high notes, and got the good singing vibes going. (Maybe some shots of whiskey, too). There even was a cougar who dedicated her song to one of the guys and had some very sexy words for him after the song, thank goodness for the Finnish guys who could translate! It was a really fun trip altogether, and I am glad we got to meet up!

Another big thing: Noppi and I are going to see Usher on February 23. I am beyond pumped because I honestly haven’t been to that many concerts in my life. My grandma works for a Christian Radio station, so I grew up at Reliant K and Switchfoot concerts, which are great no doubt, but a chocolate R&B concert?!?! It is a beautiful thing. We have a countdown going. I am also trying to convice Noppi to go to a nude beach with me (sorry Mom). I am not going for the naked people, but I think you should say yes to new experiences at least one time (not everything… but most things), and I have heard it is freeing to just completely put yourself out there. Maybe we should make a bucket list.

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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.