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June 18, 2019

8 Ways to Call the Shots with Referees

The relationship between referees and...EVERYONE in nearly every sport is a disgrace to sports and humanity, in general. The whole concept of creating sports stemmed from having too much leisure time in our mainstreamed society.

Free time is fun! Let's exercise! Let's create group games! Let's keep score!

I don't know when the idea of needing a game judge to "make it fair" came into play, but all of us in today's world only know organized sports exist with referees.

We have also experienced the cringeworthy bad decisions, lack of paying attention, or even actual lack of knowledge that referees can display. Hopefully, we have also had some good experiences with referees, but, unfortunately, nobody really ever highlights a job well done by the officials in amateur or professional sports.

I have been refereeing volleyball "for fun" since I was fourteen years old. Whether it was club or school tournaments, camps, or intramural sports, I had no problem standing around with a whistle and making sure nobody did anything outlandish. Even when most of my decisions were obviously correct, there would still be someone on the opposing side reacting poorly and trying to make my life harder.

I am by no means a career referee. I realized in the past decade or so of living abroad that refereeing is akin to parenting. I don't want to be a parent, so why on earth would I choose to be a referee?! I'll stick to playing, coaching, and agent-ing.

Referees are like parents because...
...they are supervising the situation.
...they are there to make sure you follow the rules.
...they call you out when you do something wrong.
...they punish you if you get into a fight.
...they usually try to talk some sense into you about how to do something better.
...they have to be brave enough to do the right thing.
...they have to manage wild emotions and reactions from everyone around them.
...they are doing a thankless job.
...they are not perfect, and everyone is a critic.

If you are a referee, more power to you! I am not personally interested in a job where people only like you if you do what they want, regardless of truth or reality. I know coaching can be tough in its own way, but the amount of time we are able to invest with our team is much different than just showing up in the gym every once in a while with the rule book.

Here's the thing about referees and sport culture, though: we need to do better. Referees will have their good days and bad days, but we could all be a lot better in making this relationship more positive. People are wrong in real life all the time; it doesn't make it okay for us to lose our minds and scream at them.

I have always understood that MY reaction to a referee decision was 100% a reflection of MY character. MY reaction--that I should have complete control of--is MY responsibility, and in no way reflects the intelligence of the referee. Whether I am "justified" in yelling at another person because I am right, or actually lying to use "gamesmanship" in my team's favor, these reactions are telling the people around me who I am - NOT who the referee is. And I am only building a bad reputation for myself, my team, and my club.

This is not who I want to be, and all athletes, coaches, and fans should also uphold their personal dignity in order to support the dignity of the referees.

Ultimately, referees are just trying to do their job. I have yet to meet a referee who really wants to do a bad job...and if a referee has an actual personal vendetta, it's probably because of a previous negative experience with the person (and their likely inappropriate response) involved.

I have been watching sports since literally the week I was born. I can count on one hand how many times I have seen a sports game truly decided by a bad referee call. Most of the time, one team or the other has underperformed. The best thing you can do as a player and team is to play your best, purest match possible, and not leave chance up to the referees. If you play well within the rules of the game, the better team will usually win, and the referees won't have very much to do with the end result at all.

Here are eight ways we can "call the shots" with the referees, making the relationship between the referees and everyone else more positive, and actually making a difference in sport culture where the referees don't have to play the part of the villain.

1. Be friendly: learn the referee's names.

2. Be respectful: make eye contact and have a conversation.

3. Be honest: don't complain about calls that you know are right; you're just making yourself look bad and won't be believable when you are telling the truth.

4. Give alternative suggestions: if the referee didn't see what you saw, have ready suggestions about how it may have been the ball, another player, or just miscommunicated.

5. Speak their language: even just key terms can go a long way.

6. Use open body language: approach the referee calmly and naturally, using facial expressions to communicate understanding and posture that signifies a discussion - not an argument.

7. Keep your team cool: maybe your team doesn't understand how to react properly, so just make sure they know to chill out because you will handle it and they don't have to worry about it.

8. Understand that it's a tough job: treat the referee as you would wish to be treated in that exact same scenario.

If you're still not convinced, put yourself in the shoes of the referee, and ask yourself, "If I make the right call, do I deserve to have people screaming at me?" And again, "If I make the wrong call, do I want to be screamed at, or given another chance to do better the next time?"

I hope you can do your part to contribute to positivity in sports, both for yourself and the culture as a whole!

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June 7, 2019

Savoring Sauvian

Sauvian is the village where my French volleyball pal, Adeline, lives, just south of Béziers. We took long morning walks through the meadows above the town and found all the wildflowers and vineyards! Adeline also took me to an incredible restaurant in the area, L'Harmonie in nearby Serignan. This was one of the best meals I've ever had, and the boulangerie in Sauvian provided me with the buttery French pastries I had been missing all year!

The fabulous plat du jour at L'Harmonie consisted of salmon, baked parmesan, mâche, baked cherry tomatoes, and delicious pesto gnocchi.

The pain I have from missing pain au chocolat is very real, indeed!

Unbelievably tasty array of a café gourmand, comprised of espresso, pistachio mousse with strawberry flavored crunchies, lemon meringue and raspberries, and a light chocolate tiramisu.

I'm so thankful for great friends, and especially for great friends who live in amazing places!!!

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June 4, 2019

Carcassonne Drive-By

Carcassonne is just really freaking cool. It's a fortified city on a hill, and the views from all angles are magnificent! Someday, I will return again and really dive into the historical Cité, but, for now, admire these wonderful photographs.

Have you been to Carcassonne? What did you like the most about it?

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June 1, 2019

Live Well 2019: June

Welcome to the renewed guest post series of Live Well 2019, thanks to my dear friend/client/Bible study buddy, Sarah! The previous stint of fabulous Live Well guest posting was done by my sister, Lindsay Wampler, from 2016-2017.

This time around, we will post once a month for the year of 2019, in tandem with The Pro Player Timeline posts.

Sarah Blomgren is another California-Christian-Volleyball-Crazy who has played in England, Finland, and is currently living and playing in Serbia. Sarah adds a deeper dimension to being a professional athlete abroad with her commitment to maintaining a plant-based diet based on vegan guidelines, developing her professional profile, and growing as an athlete and person.

Sarah and I met through Elite Volley, and we have been a part of Athletes in Action online Bible study groups for professional athletes overseas. It only seemed fitting for us to also share our idea space for 2019 to better equip and encourage our fellow athletes and expats abroad!


"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

I learned a new way to study the Bible from a sweet and super wise lady at church. It involves writing down the actual Scriptures you are reading for that day, whether it's three verses or a whole chapter. Highlight the words or parts God has emphasized to you and then look up the meanings of those words and find some reliable commentaries to give context to the verses.

It actually helps with memorizing the verses because you are reading it, writing it, and then looking into it further. This one stuck out to me the other day. This has been so true for my life. The days when I'm in the Word and focusing on God and in-tune with the Spirit are the days I feel the best, or at least feel like no matter what my circumstances are I can get through it because I am connected to the "vine."

Apart from Jesus, we can do NOTHING. This part may upset people because these days we hear the message of, "you are good enough just as you are," so much. But it's actually the opposite of the truth of what Jesus says here. The truth is, we are not enough and we never will be, but the great news - the best news ever - is that IN Christ we are good enough, because He is good enough! Thats the message of the gospel and that can give people so much hope. So be encouraged that when you're feeling unworthy, take the pressure off, because, guess what, you're not! But Jesus is worthy, so cling to Him and you will not only be worthy, but connected to the only One who can give you sustenance and life!

Smoothie Mixmaster

Sweet Potato Chocolate Peanut Butter
I know it's weird to think about sweet potato in a smoothie... but trust me, it's amazing! Sweet Potato adds an extra level of creaminess. Cut/cube and peel the potatoes and steam them for about 15 minutes, then freeze them.

1 banana
Few chunks of frozen sweet potato
Cacao powder
Scoop of natural peanut butter
One medjool date
Splash of plant milk
Amount of milk will vary the smoothie-nice cream consistency.

Dig Deeper Recommendation

Lost Women of The Bible by Carolyn Custis James
If you are someone who has always been confused on the message around women's roles in the church, then read this book! I haven't finished it yet, but I listened to a podcast with this author and she talks a little about it and the inspiration behind it. The main idea: God gave women a purpose and a voice of our own. It's not that we are less than men, and not that we are more, but we are equally pivotal to the growth of the bride of Christ. This book discusses various women in the Bible and their stories to expose how God views women, and how that sometimes differs from how our "church culture" views women.

Stay on-task and motivated throughout the month for FREE!

Plant-Based Meal

BBQ Jackfruit Tacos
Jackfruit is such a great alternative to meat, especially when you’re going for a pulled pork or shredded beef vibe! Canned jackfruit from Trader Joe's is always my go-to. It's already chunked up, so just drain and then cut off the hard bottom of the triangle parts of each chunk. Boil them for about 20 minutes until soft, and then put BBQ sauce of choice on them. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.

Assemble tacos according to your preference. Mine always include avocado! Roasted corn and a cabbage slaw go really nicely with the BBQ flavor of the jackfruit! Give it a try and enjoy!

Yoga Move

Camel Pose
This pose is great for opening up your chest and the anterior (front) of your upper body. The key is to keep your core and gluteals engaged so your spine is supported. Check out this helpful video!

Vegan Snack/Dessert

I just discovered the greatest Lemon Poppy Seed Cake from Rainbow Plant Life! It's decadent, but light and summery! Its also 100% vegan!!! It uses ingredients like fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest, which really make a difference in the lemon flavor.

I was lazy and didn’t cut the two cakes in half to make 4 layers. So I recommend that for a more even ratio of cake to jam! This vegan lemon poppy-seed layer cake has homemade blackberry jam which is super easy to make and a delicious vegan cream cheese frosting! I hope you try it!

About The Author

Hey, friends. I'm Sarah. In addition to what Christy mentioned above, I played indoor and beach volleyball in college at The University of South Carolina where I earned my bachelor's degree in Exercise Science. I then went on to get my master's degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology and continued my volleyball career at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England. My first pro season was in Finland, and I just finished my second season playing in Serbia.

Since then I've become 100% plant-based (vegan) and I absolutely love this world of plant-based nutrition. One fun fact about me would be that I have an obsession with doughnuts! No, not like Krispy Kreme; like actual artisan, small-batch, crazy flavor doughnuts! I try to use all my traveling as an excuse to visit doughnut shops around the world. Besides that, I love Jesus and I'm just here to figure this thing called life out the best I can through His eyes.

Connect with Sarah on FacebookInstagram, and her website.
You can contact her directly via email for more information on Juice Plus+® sarahblomgren[dot]provolleyball[at]gmail[dot]com.

Let us know in the comments below if you try any variations of these delicious recipes, yoga moves, or have the chance to check out Sarah's recommendations!
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