Aug. 13, 2009
Training Camp Gallery
DAYTON, Ohio - Rachel Krabacher checks in during training camp to talk about her summer spent overseas in the Global Challenge.
This past summer, I played volleyball overseas in Switzerland and Croatia. I remember when Coach asked me if I would like to be a part of the Bring It Promotions USA team along with 11 other girls nationwide. I was with my friend Megan and we started freaking out, I was so excited that I could actually have this amazing opportunity.
My anticipation turned to reality when we arrived in Zurich, Switzerland on July 15th and met at the McDonalds. While we were meeting the girls, I was a little nervous as to how we would get along and play together since we had our first tournament game in five days. I soon realized there was no need to worry when during the first practice we were already bonding and playing like a team who had been together for a long time.
For the next four days we experienced many different aspects of the sport. One may think that volleyball would be the same no matter what country you are in, but that isn't entirely true. The first big change we had to encounter was the ball. We used international volleyballs, the blue and yellow ones. These balls are somewhat lighter and just ever so slightly smaller than the U.S. regulated volleyballs.
Even these small changes greatly affected the movement of the ball. Serving was much easier as the balls floated very easily, which on the other hand made serve receiving very difficult. The ball also didn't drop during a topspin serve or back row attack, so we had to adjust our arm swings.
Another change was the gym. Unlike the Sports Court or wooden gym floor we are used to, the Swiss National Training Center had a rubber-like floor. It was different to move as the floor was stickier and it was especially tough to dive and roll.
We realized during our first game versus the Swiss National Team, that playing against a team who is pointing and yelling things in a foreign language is somewhat intimidating. Not only that, but the way they play the game different. We had to follow international substitution rules. A player can only enter the game once and when they do they must use the substitution paddles. This affected our lineups as most of our players had to play all six rotations, which meant learning new and different defensive positions for some girls who have never played back row before.
After overcoming these differences, it is true that volleyball is just volleyball. You forget all the technicalities and just play. After losing to the Swiss National Team in three on the first day, we altered our game, coming back to beat them in a tight five game match on our final day in Switzerland.
The first night we arrived in Pula, Croatia we realized we had a big four days ahead of us. After enjoying traditional Croatian music at the welcoming ceremony, all of the teams were announced, six from America and six from Europe. The tournament was very diverse consisting of teams from Romania, Slovenia, Italy, the Croatian National Team, Pula, Montenegro, Northern and two Southern California teams, Minnesota, the A2 National Team, and our team, the team randomly put together five days earlier.
If we were going to win the 2009 Global Challenge, we were going to have to play together and work hard for every game. After the first two days of pool play, we finished 12-0, the only team in the history of this tournament to have gone undefeated so far. Because we finished first in our pool we went into the third day with a bye. Our first tournament game was the semi-finals in which we played best three out of five. Beating the Italian team, we advanced into the finals the next day versus Slovenia. This game was very official with announcers and crowds of people watching. Four little local girls, who over the time of the tournament had become our most loyal fans, showed up and cheered us to victory as we beat the team in three. During the final ceremonies we discovered that not only were we the first team to go undefeated the entire tournament with an 18-0 record, but we were also the first Bring It Promotions team to ever win the tournament!
Although we went on this trip mainly to play volleyball we were able to go into town and explore European life. It was difficult when we were shopping because the currency is so different. Throughout our trip, we used francs in Switzerland, kunas in Croatia, and euros in Venice. Communication was also difficult due to the fact that while the local people speak many different languages fluently, their English is not that great and my German, Croatian and Italian are somewhat lacking.
Through hand motions and the little language they knew we were able to talk a little and even learn some of the language. In Solothurn in Switzerland we learned German from "vie si nomen" meaning what is your name to "lustitsch" meaning funny. One thing we found in common between Switzerland and the United States was dancing. Although the music was different, we enjoyed a night of team bonding by dancing at a local club.
In Croatia, we got to see even different cultural experiences. The biggest change was the beach at the Adriatic Sea. When I heard we were going to the beach I imagined white sandy shores like those I have experienced in Florida and was completely shocked when I stepped onto the rocky shores of the beach only 100 meters away from our hotel. Not only was the shore new to me, but the water was extremely salty. Never having been able to successfully float before, I attempted in the clear blue sea. While I still was unsuccessful it was a much better try than I had previously had. Just like Switzerland, we celebrated our win by dancing the night away with the girls.
Our final day in Europe we spent in Venice. This city is indescribable, just imagine a maze of alleyways and intertwining rivers all lined with shop after shop. We saw beautiful bridges and gorgeous rivers filled with small boats, canoes, and gondolas. After a day filled with shopping and souvenirs we were ready for bed.
Leaving Europe was bittersweet. I had the time of my life, the experience was amazing and I very highly recommend playing overseas, but at the same time I was ready to come home to see the people I missed, my family, friends, and team. I miss the BIP girls already, they were awesome and even after just days, we were really good friends. I hope we will stay in touch with for a long, long time. I learned so much about different cultures and skills of the game of volleyball that I can use in this upcoming season at University of Dayton. -Rachel Krabacher