September 14, 2015

Double Days in the Austrian Alps

The last time I did three days in a row of two practices per day was in 2007.

The only time I had ever been to Austria was in 2011, to pay homage to one of my favorite movies ever, The Sound of Music.

This time around, the hills were still alive, but with the sound of sports and awesomeness.

We stayed at a sports resort (yes, I feel like that's a thing now) called Maria Alm-Hintermoos, south of Salzburg.

We played a ton of volleyball. But we also had fun team bonding playing floorball, enjoying the sunshine, learning about Austria, climbing every mountain, and having way too much fun in the cafeteria at meals. I don't know what it is about volleyball players and hysterical laughter and cafeterias, but, for whatever reason, mealtime brings out the best in us. Maybe we just love food so much, that we are happiest when we're eating!

I didn't quite have the energy to go hiking like the rest of my young teammates did, but I did thoroughly enjoy the pool during our long afternoon off. The views of the Alps were incredible even from the valley where we were staying. We were surrounded by traditional Austrian chalets, grazing cattle, and forests and mountains as far as the eye could see.

Our coach did a good job of balancing the practices so nothing was too hard on our bodies. There was also the super cold pool and sauna and steam rooms to help with our recovery time.

It was interesting to see how six trainings affected me and my teammates. Some of us grew stronger and tougher, some of us got too tired or cranky, and some of us just ended up in a cloudy daze. It showed me that I still have something significant to give: a diehard love for volleyball.

Most of them at least like volleyball a lot; but I can tell that some of them probably have never had volleyball taken away from them, or have never had to face a world where a spot for them on a team doesn't exist.

When you don't know anything different than a seemingly invincible body and constant opportunities to play volleyball, it is so easy to take it for granted. I hope I can communicate the value and pricelessness of the ability to play sport - and to play sport with your friends - this year.

By the third training, I was physically sore and beat, but I was still excited through the sixth training because I GOT TO PLAY VOLLEYBALL. I got to strap on my ankle brace and volleyball shoes. I got to jump on two (mostly) working legs. I got to set great attackers who made great plays. I got to dive and sweat and block and shout and high-five and run all over the place.

These are the grand and wonderful moments of sport. These are the moments I missed so deeply that it broke my heart to the point of changing our entire lives and moving across the world.

It was an excellent weekend.