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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Last Day with my Kiddos!

Last night I had my last night of "Baby Volley." I have helped coach a group of 9-11 year olds every Wednesday all season. I LOVE THESE KIDS! I always looked forward to Wednesday's so that I could see them. We had a blast even though I could barely communicate with them. I used my limited French and when it made sense in my head, I would still get confused looks from them. I tried and it was sad that I could never really talk to them. O but we tried our hardest every single week. Some of the girls would come up to me and start telling me a story and it saddened me to tell them "Je ne comprends pas." These kids really have a special place in my heart and I am really going to miss them greatly.

So on our last night together I bought 3 big chocolate bunnies. I also brought 2 of my t-shirts from the club and a pair of sweats that I won't be able to fit in my bag on the way home. We had competitions. The first was for a chocolate bunny. They each had a ball and they had to pass-pass-set-set to themselves in that order. If they messed up the order of the ball fell, they had to sit down. The last one standing won! It was a long competition and in the middle the last 3 boys could not be stopped. So we changed it to pass-pass-pass-set-set-set and then even to pass 4 times then set 4 times. After about 5 minutes we had our winner!

The second competition was a serving competition. We had a boys side and a girls side. There would be a boy winner and a girl winner and each would win a chocolate bunny. They were in a line and they had to serve the ball in the court. If they made it in, they came back to the end of the line. If they missed their serve, they were out. This was intense!! I'm telling you, kids will do anything for candy.

Our last competition was for my clothes. We layed them on the court and then it was a free for all. If they served the ball and it hit the clothing, they got to keep it! I didn't really think this would be devastating for some of them. One of my girls was so upset that she didn't win my t-shirt. She wanted it so badly. It broke my heart and she was in tears. But I gave her a pep-talk (kind of) and tried to motivate her to beat the boys at the end of practice! And she did!

These kids have been such a blessing to me in my time in France. They brought me so much joy and they really made me feel loved so much. They brought me gifts for my birthday and drew me pictures and wanted to have pictures taken of me! It is going to be harder to leave Nantes than I thought...

Me and all the kiddos!

Me and the boys. Pierre-Lupe was proud to win those pants!

Me and my girlies! I miss them already. Cici, Kenza, Liza, Audrey, Chloe, Clementine, Lona, and Juliette.

Clement, one of the boys, got me this beautiful bouquet of flowers. How sweet!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Last Week of My Life

Last Saturday, we had our last regular season match. We played against Istres (the 4th place team). No one thought we could win... the fans, the club, the players, our coaches. But I did and maybe one other player on our team. We ended up shocking everyone in the first 2 sets. We won 25-23 and 25-19. We lost the 3rd 26-28 and lost the 4th 23-25. We ended up losing the match in 5 11-15. We had to win the match to make it to playoffs. We had our chances and we played really well as a team, but we just couldn't get it done. It was a bummer but I really enjoyed playing in the match. It was also bitter sweet for me because that was the last match of my career. I take this moment to announce my retirement from playing volleyball. Haha. I always wanted to say that. Around February, while I was processing what the next year of my life would look like, I really felt God was leading me away from playing and into coaching. I prayed a lot about this and I definitely felt confirmation of this. So the next chapter of my life is college coaching. I am really excited for what the future holds and where the Lord will take me with this, but I just want to say "Yes Lord" wherever that may be.

As I was processing through my last match, I really started to look back over my whole playing career. I started officially when I was in 4th grade, even though I was playing with my family in the backyard and at my sister's volleyball practices way before then. In 4th grade, I remember one match where I served the entire match 15-0 (side-out scoring). In 8th grade we won the city championship as a super small school and got to shave my dad's head. It was hard leaving my grade school teammates and friends going into high school to start new. But we won 3 sectional championships while in high school. My sophomore year, I started playing club seriously. My senior year high school season we played in Regional's and almost stunned Muncie Burris who had won a million state championships in a row. We lost in the 5th 15-11 after being up 11-9. Yes I remember this and still have dreams about it. My 18's year of club, I was forever changed as I had the opportunity to play for Mike Lingenfelter at Munciana. I will forever be a Samurai. Then I started on my adventure at UK. I loved EVERY second of it. My athleticism was trained and I developed into a volleyball player and a setter through lots and lots of reps. I got stronger, faster, and more fit thanks to Coach Tracey. I learned how to get neutral, get my feet to the ball, and how to finish my set from Robby. I learned how to block aggressively and how to play Grandma defensive from Beerman. And I learned how to lead a team, run an offensive, and how to trust my abilities and just play from Skinner. I had an amazing experience and will never forget a single second of it... well I may forget the 2 sets of 7 minute wall sits with medicine balls because girls were missing class and tutors. I love UK and I will always bleed blue through and through. As I finished my career in the states, I knew I wanted to keep playing and I decided on Nantes Volley Feminin here in France. I learned a lot about playing at the international level. I was definitely thrown into a new environment. The food, language, driving, comforts, and volleyball were all different. But I learned some life lessons while I was here and I met some truly great people that I will be very sad to say goodbye too. As I look back, I realize how much God has blessed me. He has given me so much more than I could ever ask for or come up with on my own. He gave me a passion for the sport of volleyball, and he followed that up with playing abilities so that I could carry out all of my dreams. I have had the most wonderful experiences as a volleyball athlete and I thank God for everyone of those experiences. I also see how God has used the sport of volleyball to draw me closer to Him through relationships I have built, places He has taken me, lessons I have learned, disappointments and successes, and I stand in awe of his love for me. I have truly been blessed.

Well, I'm just getting started with this blog post so bear with me. Saturday after the match, since we didn't make it to play-offs, the informed us that we didn't have practice until Thursday. I still don't understand the whole practicing when you don't have any matches left, but they are paying me to be here and it's just part of it. I have to stay until May 6 because we have sponsor events. Anyway, when I heard that we had a huge break, I got home and started searching places to travel to. Nicole and I decided we would head to Athens, Greece. WHAT? Greece was always some place that I always dreamed of going but I never thought I would ever travel there. So Sunday, we took the train to Paris, slept in the airport Sunday night (or tried... that's a whole blog post in itself), showered in the sink at 4am Monday, hoped on our EasyJet flight at 6 (which wasn't so easy... once again, a whole blog post for that story) and arrived in Greece at 10. Happy Birthday to Me! I turned 23 on Monday in Greece. We spent the day walking around the Plaka and doing a little shopping and really just getting familiar with the city! It was a relaxing day but so much fun. We had greek salad and lamb and other really great Greek food. We went to Hard Rock Cafe for a birthday dessert because I really wanted chocolate cake or something of the like. So we split a Brownie Ice Cream Sundae thingy. Yumm. I can't believe I am 23.

Tuesday we woke up, I had some greek yogurt (yumm) and we took one of the bus tours. You could hop off and hop back on any time you wanted. We first went to the Acropolis Museum. Then we went to the Acropolis itself. It was really really cool to see. The whole city of Athens is pretty much built on old ruins. So everywhere you look, there are random ruins from something 2000 years ago. Then we had lunch in the Plaka (gyro and greek salad). We then went to the Temple of Zeus, then jumped on the bus that took us to the port Piraeus. It is the biggest port in Europe and it was pretty to see the coast. Then we took the bus to the Archaeological Museum. We got there around 3:30 and it was closed. WHAT?? It closes at 3pm everyday. What kind of famous museum does that? We were pretty bummed because Nicole and I both like stuff like that. So we grabbed some coffee from Costa coffee and bought some Greek Sandals.

We then headed to dinner for our last night in Greece. :( Dinner was unbelievable. We went to this restaurant with a view of the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora. It was beautiful. We sat outside and just took in the view. We ordered Lamb Soulvaki, a meat combo dish and of course Greek Salad. Delish. Then we went to a different place and got Baklava! So so good! Then we headed back to the hotel to prepare to leave the next morning. Ok so I LOVE LOVE LOVE Greece. I really want to go back some day. I think I want to go to Santorini for my honeymoon. Hopefully my future husband is down with this! I love Greek Salad. I loved Greek salad from the states and I order it everytime I go to Panera, so I was in heaven eating actual real life Greek Salad!! :) I'm kind of addicted I think.

So here was our schedule Wednesday. We walked to the metro in Greece (15 mins). We took the metro to the airport (45 mins). Flew from Athens to Paris (4 hours). Took a special train from the airport to the metro in Paris (10 mins). Took the metro to the train station (30 mins). Took the train from Paris to Nantes (2 hours). Took the tram from the train station to our stop (20 mins). Walked to our apartment (15 mins). LONG DAY! So worth it though. I had a blast in Greece!

Thursday I made fruit pizza for my team to celebrate my birthday at practice. Friday I went to the center to walk and shop a little. Saturday we went to the market in Nantes and I went to the Park. And today we went to La Baule (the beach). It has been a great week!

Next weekend, I am going to Prague to meet my friend Liz for Easter. She is STINTing with AIA in Berlin and we are meeting up in Prague. The weekend after Easter is still up in the air (talks of possibly Milan with Nicole). My dad arrives here May 3. We are going to London May 7-9. We are going to Barcelona May 10-12, and Rome May 12-14. We fly out of Paris on May 15 and I will be back in the good Ole US of A!!!

Ok that was the world's longest blog post ever. Hope you didn't get bored. I'm hungry so I am going to go make myself one of these!! Yes the first thing I did upon returning to Nantes was buy feta cheese at the grocery store :)

Please be praying for wisdom for me as I am processing through and starting to make decisions about my coaching future! Thanks!! Also, my cousin Kelly had her triplets at 26 weeks 3 weeks ago. Please pray for their family and especially Ella, Luke and Wilson.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I am a terrible blogger.

I am going to try harder. And I am going to do better. This blogging has just not happened lately. My sister was here the last week in February and brought me my new MacBookPro (which is beautiful by the way). And then I just didn't feel like I had anything to talk about. Volleyball has been frustrating recently because we have lost 3 in a row. We beat the last twoteams we just lost to in the first half of the season so it was not good for us to lose to them in the second half. We are currently tied for 8th place in the league and we have to be in the top 8 in order to make it to the playoffs. Butas you can see 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th place are all really close together in points.
When my sister came to visit we had an absolute BLAST! She flew into Paris (yes a direct flight from Boston-sooo lucky) and then took the train all by herself to Calais. Calais is Northwest France as close as you can get to England. She saw our match against Calais and then she came back with us on the train on Sunday. We hung out in Nantes Sunday afternoon until Friday. I took her to all of my favorite places and showed her around the city. She has about 100 espresso's while she was here and she claims they just taste sooo much better here. I wouldn't know since it is my goal in life not to get addicted to coffee. Then Friday after practice we headed to Paris for the weekend! It worked out perfect because we happened to have one of our very few free weekends while she was here. We saw all the sit
es in Paris Friday night and Saturday. And we even had time for some shopping :). I was so sad when she had to leave Sunday morning because we had the best time. But I stayed in Paris an extra day and a half which was nice. I was finally able to explore a little on my own and see some of the not super touristy spots. I went to Hillsong Paris for church Sunday morning and I'm not going to lie, but I was in tears the whole time. I haven't gotten to worship God with a group of believers like that is a very very long time. It was so great and I was completely in awe of how God used the sermon to speak to my heart. The sermon was about Paul's shipwreck in Acts 27. The pastor pointed out a few things that have stuck with me since:
  • We are going to go through storms in our life.
  • While they were in the storm, the tied ropes around the boat to hold it together, they lowered the anchor, and they threw some of their cargo overboard. When we are going through storms in our out life, we have friends who can help hold us together. I am so thankful for my wonderful friends who have stayed close by me through any storms I have faced here in France so thank you. Also, they lowered the anchor. When going through a storm, we need to anchor ourselves in God's truth. I want no one else to be my anchor except for the Lord. And thirdly, they threw some cargo off the ship to make the load lighter. I need to ask myself sometimes what do I need to get rid of or what is getting in the way of my walk with the Lord. There are very good questions to constantly be asking!
  • God spoke to Paul DURING THE STORM. And what did he say? "Do not be afraid." Those simple words are spoken over and over again in the Bible but yet I still fear. I think that I just need listen while I am in the storm instead of trying to control and fix everything myself. Because God definitely has it under control and will figure things out wayyy better than I will ever be able to.
  • The storm lasted a really long time- 14 days. Even though God spoke to Paul, He didn't stop the storm right then and there. There were even days when the sun or the stars never appeared. Can you imagine total darkness for days? During storms in our lives, we must be confident that God who began a good work in our lives will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus (Phil 1:6). I often get so eager to have the storm end and end right now that I forget to see how God is trying to equip me or sanctify me.
This was a very very encouraging sermon for me. When my sister hopped on the plane earlier that morning I so wanted to go with her. I wanted to go back to America and see my family and my friends and eat Mexican food. But this sermon just really reminded me that France is where I am supposed to be. Personally, I have grown so much while being in France and I continue to pray that God will use me in the lives of other to help build his Kingdom. But I must also remember that God doesn't need me. I am humbled at the thought that He would use me! :)

So, my days have had ups and downs. But I am constantly holding on to the ONE that will be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and forever. Because that is all I have and all I need!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's not my fault

I was doing so good about blogging but then my beautiful MacBook decided to die on me. I would get this annoying blue screen that would just ring every 2 seconds. It would never power up. Needless to say, it has been a rough couple of weeks with my only form of communication to the world being broken. I do have a Kindle (which has been GREAT) and I can connect to my email and facebook but that's about it. I haven't really been able to talk to my family in a few weeks which has been rough. But I am trying to take advantage of all of this ALONE time... my favorite thing if anyone knows me. But it has been really great for solitude with the Lord. My sister is coming to visit on February 19th for a week and she is bringing me a new computer, MacBookPro! Yahh!! She flys into Paris and then will figure out the train system in Europe and immediately hop on a train to Calais, France. We have a game in Calais that night. Calais is in the northwest of France and it is actually the city where you can jump on the chunnel to England. She will stay in Calais at the same hotel as us and then she has the same itinerary on the way back to Nantes with us. She will be in Nantes all week and then we have a free weekend the second weekend she is here so we are planning on venturing to Paris for a few days before she flys out.

Here's what's been going on with me:
  • We played against Venelles 2 weekends ago and we won 3-0. In case I haven't explained the scoring system for our league, I will do so now becase it is important. For every match there are 3 points up for grabs. If you win in 3 or 4 sets, you get all three points. If you win in 5 you get 2 points and the losing team gets 1 point. The rankings for the league are all based on number of points, so it is really important to win matches in 3 or 4 sets. The first half of the season, we won a lot of matches but they were all in 5 except for 1. So even though our record may have looked good we were missing out on a lot of points if we could have won matches in 3 or 4. Currently we are in 6th place out of 12 teams which is where we should be. I think we should finish the season in 5th place, but the coaches think that 6th or 7th place is more realistic. After the double round robin (we are in the second half) we have the play-offs. The top 4 teams go into a bracket and the 5th-8th teams go into a bracket. Then the top bracket competes for 1st-4th place while the second bracket fights for 5th-8th place. Hopefully all of that makes sense!
  • We celebrated King's Cake. In France they bake this special cake and they put a figurine in it. Then everyone takes a slice and while you are eating if you have the figurine, you are the "King" or "Queen" and you get to wear a crown. I think that if you win, you have to make the cake for the next year haha. I did not win :(
  • We went to this really really long awards ceremony where we were nominated for Professional Team of the Year in the Nantes region. We did not win :(
  • We have American family night every Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday's we have dinner together and watch Modern Family and on Thursday's we get together and watch Glee. It has been really fun and it breaks up the week a little bit.
  • This past weekend, we had a free weekend so us American's decided to venture to Normandy to see the D-day beaches. It was a 3 hour drive from Nantes and yes Bertha (the car) did make it! We went to Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, and Juno Beach. At Omaha Beach, 34, 250 Americans landed there on D-Day and there were 3,600 casualties. Gold Beach was where the 24,970 British landed and there were 1,050 casualties. At Juno Beach, 21,500 Canadians landed there and there were 1,270 casualties. We also saw the edges of the other 2 beaches, Utah and Sword Beach. Utah was an American Beach and Sword Beach was a British and French Beach. We also visited the American Cemetary which was really crazy. There are rows and rows of white crosses at the cemetary. There are 9, 387 Americans buried in the cemetary. Seeing those crosses made me realize the impact of the war and it was really moving. Most soldiers on D-Day knew that they were going to die as they paved the way for the others. Hard stuff. We also saw Arromanches which is near Gold beach. The allies brought over huge concrete slabs and dropped them in the ocean before D-Day in order to help calm the waters for the ships. The concrete slabs are still there. We also went to Point du Hoc which was by far the most astonishing. There were tons of Nazi bunkers up on this hill with huge cannons. The American Army Rangers scaled this 100 meter high cliff to somehow take out this area. Pointe du Hoc is definitely one of the places where you know that war took place. The beaches are just beaches. But at Pointe Du Hoc there are huge huge holes in the ground everywhere from bombs being dropped. It is really crazy. Many of the bunkers are still in tact and others were completely destroyed. I learned so much this weekend and it makes me wish I would have paid more attention in history class. We also went to Caen which was a city that the allies conquered about 3 months after D-Day which really paved the way to advance to Paris and Germany. You can click here http://www.worldwar2history.info/D-Day/ for some more information. We also watched Saving Private Ryan while we were in Normandy. It details the story of Niland brothers and 3 of the 4 are buried in the American Cemetary. It was really cool to see the movie after visiting the cemetary and the beaches because they did a really really good job of keeping it authentic.
  • We play in the south of France this weekend against St. Raphael. It should be a good match!

I hope everyone is doing well. I will try to continue to update but who knows when I will be able to borrow a computer next! Have a great rest of the week. Hopefuly I can post pictures soon!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's Official

I went to the Mediterranean Sea. And it was beautiful!
We played in Cannes on Saturday. We left Saturday morning and played Saturday night. We actually played really well and the match was really fun. We lost 0-3 (which was expected) but the scores were 18-25, 21-25, 18-25. So it wasn't embarrassing which I am very happy about! Everyone played hard and we played together which hasn't happened in a long time. So it was a fun weekend!

Our hotel was a 10 minute walk from the Mediterranean and we took a walk Saturday during the day to get the blood flowing in our legs! I loved it so much I went on a walk again with Laura, my Checz teammate and roommate on road trips.

We got back Sunday evening and the internet was out... ughhhh. It is starting to get annoying and it is inconvenient. I was supposed to skype with my parents on Sunday but I couldn't. Monday we had 2 practices and after our second practice we had a mock volleyball practice for all of our sponsors. It was actually really fun and funny at the same time. Our sponsors acted as the players and we put them through some drills and similar things to what we do in practice! It was fun to coach them (with my very limited French) and great to watch them attempt to play. But it was a fun evening. Today we had morning weights, practice and then French class. After weights we went and looked at our new gym for recuperation. We are allowed to go 3 days a week. They have an aqua massage table, sauna, swimming pool, and a bunch of cardio equipment and free weights. We can use whatever we want. We will still have our normal musculation at the other gym, but if we want to supplement it with anything, we can use this new gym.

Also, I am very naive in case anyone didn't already know that. There is this new billboard up around Nantes and it is a picture of a girl and guy without shirts on embracing. The girl has long dark hair and the sign reads "Salon Erotisme." For about 3 days I thought it was a sign for the new hair salon in town. WOWWWW! It is actually a sign for the strip club. But I guess that I am getting used to the half naked girls on billboards here in France and it is becoming normal to me. WoWW!

Friday, January 14, 2011


This is where I am going tomorrow!!!
Tomorrow morning (Saturday) we are heading for Cannes for our match. Our plane leaves at 6:45am which means we have to be at the airport at 5:45am which means we have to leave the apartment at 5:25am. We will arrive in Nice at 9:40am. Nice by the way is beautiful. We were just there last weekend for a match against Le Cannet. It is gorgeous and stuck right between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea! BEAUTIFUL! Our match is at 8pm Saturday night and we will come home Sunday.

Travel is much different than NCAA volleyball where you would leave Thursday afternoon and practice in the gym on Thursday night. Then you would wake up around 10 on game day and have a good breakfast, go to practice, watch film, have a pregame meal, take a nap and head to the game. I don't mind traveling the day of the game, but it is just a little hard when you don't get a good nights rest before your match. If I went to sleep right now I would get 7 hours, which is much less than my normal 10 haha. It is just an adjustment you have to make and get used to and when game time rolls around it's on!

Also, we are expected to lose to Cannes. Everyone is expected to lose to Cannes. There is a weird vibe that goes around the week you have to play Cannes because it is "impossible to beat them." That is something I will never get used to. I love to play against the best teams and come out fighting hard and shocking people. That is what you do. That is what sport is all about. But apparently we are just supposed to have fun. All week in practice we have been preparing for next weeks match. Cannes week is just a weird week. But I am excited to play against a great team and I am going to give it my all! Maybe we can pull together as a team and shock some people!!!!! Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year's Resolution- Starting 12 days late...

So I basically suck at this blogging thing but it is my New Year's Resolution to update it more often. I think that if I update it every few days then it won't seem too overwhelming to update my life over the past month.

I'm back in France in my new apartment and we finally have internet. We didn't have internet the whole month before Christmas break which was beyond miserable.

We are currently in 9th place in our league and we start our second round of competition this weekend. We started out the season really great and then we struggled the last part of the first half. But after a much needed break at home, we are ready to get back at it.

My best friend Megan, flew back to France with me and stayed for a week before school started at UK. I'm so happy she came because if not, it would have been extra hard for me to leave the states after Christmas. We took a 6 hour trip to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower (at day and night), the Arc de Triomphe, all the key paintings and sculptures in the Louvre, and Notre Dame. Not bad for 6 hours. The rest of the time she was here we explored Nantes and just hung out trying to adjust to the time change.

The real reason I am writing this blog entry, is because I want to tell you what happened today at the physical therapist. I arrived at the PT (I have some nagging plantar fasciitis which won't go away) about 15 minutes early. I am always early because I never know how long it will take me to find a parking spot for Bertha since parking in all of France is ridic. Anyway, I was sitting in the waiting room and the second I walk in and sit down, the lady next to me with her foot propped up on another chair starts telling me her life story in French. I didn't even have 2 seconds to butt in and say "Je ne parle pas francais." I kept hoping my PT would come get me because I knew that any second she would ask me my life story. O but no... she talked for 14 minutes straight, and I interjected with the ooh's and aah's when necessary. She was probably wondering what was wrong with me and why I wasn't saying anything. Well, then again she didn't ever pause to breathe so she probably didn't notice much. Then with one minute until my appointment started, I thought I had made it home free when it happened. She asked me a question. But, I understood that she asked what was my job. So I said, "Je suis volleyuse." We have practiced this phrase over and over in French class and I was happy to put it to some use. She immediately looked at me and said, "Do you speak English?" I shyly replied yes, but I did inform her that I understand French... lie. She apologized and we both kind of laughed since she talked for 14 minutes prior without a single breath for air. But the problem was that she couldn't understand that my job was to play volleyball. I had to show her my sweatshirt that said Nantes Volley Feminin and then she kind of started to get it. She asked, "Professional??" I replied yes and then everything started to click for her. Then my PT came to get me. Ahhh one minute too late. I still laugh everytime I think about it.