#Seawolves Overseas: Costello's first installment

Kaitlin Costello

July 13, 2014

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Former Stony Brook volleyball player Kaitlin Costello ’14 i  in Europe representing Stony Brook and the United States in the Bring it Promotions Global Challenge, where she is playing for BIP-USA. In the first installment of her blog, she talks about traveling in and exploring Europe and the first few days with her new teammates. Follow her journey on GoSeawolves.org, on Twitter at  @StonyBrookVB and @SBAthletics and on Facebook at Facebook.com/StonyBrookVolleyball.

She will be hosting a Twitter Takeover of the @StonyBrookVB account Friday.

It has been a quick five days already on this trip. Evann and I left New York on Tuesday, July 8th at 5 p.m. out of JFK. We flew on a Spanish airline through Madrid and continued on to Venice. I was extremely nervous the week prior to our flight not only because I haven’t played volleyball in awhile but also the thought of being stuck on a plane for eight straight hours scared me. Honestly, the flight from JFK to Madrid was hands-down the best and most comfortable flight I have been on. All went well. We had about a two-hour layover in Madrid, where we found Jared, our athletic trainer who coincidently had been on the same flight pattern as us. 

We arrived in Venice on Wednesday at around 11:30 a.m. European time, totaling around 14 hours in an airport or in the air flying while traveling six hours ahead of the eastern time zone. Once Yanniz, our driver who is originally from Greece, picked Evann and I and three of our other teammates up from the airport, we drove two hours to Ljubljana, Slovenia to grab some lunch and do a little bit of sightseeing. Ljubljana is absolutely breathtaking. I ate homemade waffles lathered in nutella and walnuts. Yum! We then continued on the remainder of the trek to Maribor, Slovenia.

We stayed in Maribor for four nights training in the Dras Center every morning and having friendly matches against the Slovenian junior national team as well as the Russian junior national team. The BIP-USA team that Evann and I play on has girls from all over the USA with schools such as University of Pittsburgh, where our coach coaches, University of Kansas, Texas A&M and many more awesome schools.

Wednesday, after spending time in Ljubljana and getting to know a few girls, we moved into our hotel and quickly turned around to have a practice. Surprisingly, for never playing together, our team already had some great chemistry. The girls are great on and off the court and we are having a lot of fun. On Thursday, we had practice then rode a gondola up the mountain that is right behind our hotel to eat lunch on the highest point of the mountain in a log cabin. It was absolutely breathtaking and so extremely scary at the same time. While riding the gondola up the mountain, you could see all of Slovenia. That night, we played a match against the Slovenian junior national team. We are still working out the kinks and figuring out how to play with each other, but all in all, we did pretty well. On Friday, we had another practice in the morning at the Dras Center, which is a two-minute walk down the hill from our hotel. During this practice, we worked on all the kinks that we were having in our friendly match on Thursday night. After practice, we had lunch as a team and took a two-hour bus ride through the mountains of Slovenia to make our way to Lake Bled, the most beautiful view I have seen thus far. It seemed so surreal how clear the water was and how beautiful the architecture was. Lake Bled is full of restaurants and little shops with homemade jewelry and such. The walk around the lake is four miles with views of the beautiful island in the middle that has a church as well as a castle on the top of a mountain that has multiple hiking trails to get to. There was the option of renting paddleboards and boats out to the island or just to swim. I chose to swim because the water was absolutely beautiful.

After swimming, I got hungry, so I decided to try the Cremeschnitte, Slovenia’s most famous cake. It was absolutely delicious.  Saturday, our last night in Maribor, approached quickly we continued our trek to Pula, Croatia. On Saturday morning, we had practice with our team and then scrimmaged the USA junior national team and then traveled into the city of Maribor to explore and eat lunch. Gelato is a big thing in Europe, having a shop on almost every corner. You can’t resist having it after walking past 10 gelato shops. The next day, we got up, had breakfast and made the four-hour trek to Pula, Croatia. Croatia is absolutely gorgeous and our hotel is a two-minute walk from the beach, which is super exciting.

That is it for now. For the future, we will be having opening ceremonies and starting our competitive tournament, and I know we will be playing some great teams. I’m very excited to play some competitive volleyball. We have long days ahead of us, so I am headed to take a nap.