USA Volleyball journal with Lauren Paolini (July 27)
July 27, 2009
I've been in Anaheim, California for nearly two months now and I have been having an awesome time! I've actually been having so much fun I could barely even find time to sit down and write this journal, but here it goes.
A typical day in Anaheim begins when my alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m. Of course, I don't actually get out of bed until around 7:45 a.m., but once I'm finally up and moving, I grab breakfast and head out the door. I get to the USA Volleyball training facility around 8:15 a.m. and practice begins at 9 a.m. Practices usually go for three to three and a half hours and it involves a lot of six-vs.-six competition, which is fun and makes the time fly by. The men's national team practices at the same time on the courts next to ours, which is fun because they crush balls 10-times harder than us girls could even imagine.
After practice, we all head over to 'The White House' which is a restaurant near our training center. It's a really fancy restaurant, but we all come straight from practice with our sweaty gear and probably smelling pretty bad, so we always feel pretty bad and a little out of place. The owner of the restaurant is really awesome and will usually sit and eat lunch with us. After lunch I head back to the gym to watch film of my blocking with Karch (Kiraly) or Jamie (Morrison). My blocking is getting better, slowly but surely! At 3:00 p.m. there is either an hour-long optional practice or team weights, depending on the day.
After that, the volleyball part of my day is pretty much over and I go back to my place to relax and hang out with the girls. I'd have to say the best part about Anaheim is the people I get to hang out with everyday, although the fact that the beach is only 20 minutes away comes in a very close second. The girls I train with are amazing people and so much fun to hang out with. It's funny because you get to meet your college rivals and find out that you actually have a lot in common.
On top of that, we have probably the best international coaching staff in the world. To say that I get to train with a gold medal coach (Hugh McCutcheon) and the world’s best volleyball player (Karch Kiraly) on a daily basis is such an honor. I feel like I've already learned so much from them in such a small amount of time. It has been an amazing experience not to mention they are just all-around great people. Lucky for me, Hugh and Jerritt (Elliott) have very similar training styles and it was an easy adjustment for me. The techniques themselves have been new for almost all of the girls that are out here training, but we are all already seeing vast improvements in our games.
The next best thing about California is, of course, the beach. I am absolutely in love with the beach and how close it is to where we live. On the weekends I sometimes go out to Hermosa Beach and hang out with former Longhorn Michelle Moriarty. She is out here for the summer training on the beach, so it's nice to have a place to get away to when I get tired of Anaheim and the thousands of tourists coming in and out of Disneyland. A couple weeks ago I had the chance to go watch an AVP tournament when it was in Manhattan Beach. It was an awesome experience. There were tons of people and it was a very exciting environment. I definitely want to play on the AVP tour some day.
I was recently selected to travel with the national team for the final two weeks of the Grand Prix trip. The team leaves on July 27 for Brazil. It's a month long tournament that takes place in four different countries. For the first three weeks we will travel to different countries to compete in a 'pool play' part of the tournament and the fourth week is the championship round. After Brazil, the team will travel to Tai Pei. I will fly out from LAX to meet them in Thailand and then (cross your fingers) if all goes well we will head to Tokyo for the championships. It's a very long tournament, but a great chance to get international experience and to travel and see the world. I'm very excited!
My plan is to drive back to the great state of Texas as soon as I return to the country, so that I can get back in time for the last few days of preseason practices before we head off to Long Beach and Hawaii for preseason tournaments. For those of you who don't know, I will be coming back for one more season to be an undergraduate assistant coach in the fall.
Can't wait to see y'all in the fall!