February 6, 2016

German Swag 101: Volleyball Transitions

After nearly six months of training in a new country, at a new level, with new teammates, in a new club, I can happily say it's not so "new" anymore.

But there have been a few adjustments.

1) Technique & System

Basically most of what my French coach drilled into me last year has had to be erased. Instead of running and jumping through every ball like a complete maniac, these coaches require a much calmer setter who jump sets after being stabilized underneath the ball. So much more normal.

2) Distances to Matches

Our Bundesliga Frauen SΓΌd should, by name, just include Southern Germany. But Germany is actually almost the same size as Montana flipped on its side, and the league continually restructures who is south or north based on who moves up and down each year. Our so-called "southern" division takes us from our Vilsbiburg village east of Munich all the way past Frankfurt twice, and to the Leipzig/Dresden area four times! Six hour van rides are brutal.

See a map of my volleyball matches here.

3) To Coach or Not To Coach

I am not coaching any teams this year for the first time since I was seventeen years old. However, I do help a volleyball P.E. class once a week, and my teammate, Julia, and I are the official referees for all the school tournaments. I feel like it's a bit of a step backward from my coaching career goals, but it's been a welcome sabbatical from being the boss, nonetheless. I'm still around volleyball six days a week, which means I'm always absorbing information and just digesting it for later when I do get to coach my own team again.

4) Roles

During my initial meetings with the club president and coach, it was very clear that this developmental team would play the youth players. I would be around to help competitiveness and bring experience when necessary. This has meant that while I am indeed the captain of the team, I now have the role of the back-up setter. Being a substitute who only plays for short spurts in the games (because of FIVB rules that only allow substitutes to enter and exit each set once) has definitely added depth to my volleyball perspective. I give everything I can vocally from the bench, helping with the waters, talking to teammates during timeouts, etc. It's a little bit weird being a bench player, but I'm embracing it for now, and enjoying my paid-to-practice status.

We are currently in seventh place out of thirteen teams. The bottom two teams will descend to the third league at the end of the season in April. It's a difficult season for a lot of teams because there are the top five teams who are ahead of everyone, the very bottom team who still has yet to win a match, then the middle seven teams all within two wins of each other.

Even though the middle chunk of teams is relatively at the same level, one of these teams will end up in twelfth place and going down to the third league. With our wins in January, we should be okay to stay in the second division, and we still have five winnable matches coming up as the season finishes.

We play our last match against the last place team, Holz, on April 2nd.

Then what?!

At the moment, I have no idea what next year will hold for me, volleyball-wise. I know it will be something, somewhere, though! Hopefully, we will stay in the same area next year, and I will be able to choose between staying with this second league developmental team or finding myself another local team in a different division. One major positive of a lower division team is that it equals shorter van rides!

Either way, I really like my teammates and coaches, and am so thankful for the opportunity to continue to have a sport as my profession.

We may have moved to Vilsbiburg for Marc and basketball, but there's so many volleyball options here, it often feels like it's the other way around!