The LoDown: Let the games begin!
July 15, 2013
Junior libero/defensive specialist Laura Hathaway is in Europe playing for the BIP Southeastern team as part of the European Global Challenge. In the latest installment, she writes about being reunited with members of the “Wolfpack” (teammate Melissa Rigo and coaches Coley and Dan Pawlikowski) and the first match of the Global Challenge.
For more on Hathaway's journey, follow @StonyBrookVB, @getlo13 and @SBAthletics on Twitter or search for the hashtag #GetLo. She will be taking over the @StonyBrookVB account on July 20. More details will follow in the coming days on how people can ask questions.
We spent our last few days in Budapest practicing and sightseeing. We would practice in the morning, sightsee all day, then go back and practice in the evening. It feels like we managed to see everything there is to see in Budapest within a few short days. After we saw one portion of the city, it was on to the next. There was definitely a lot of walking, but thank goodness for public transportation (which is super-efficient in Europe). We got pretty good at taking buses and trains. When it came to practice, our team really worked and with each practice we made a lot of improvements. Saturday night, our tour guide took us downtown to show us what the nightlife was like in Budapest. We went to an outdoor dance club, which was really cool. The crowd was definitely older than dance clubs at home, but they did play American music. The majority of the songs were somewhat old but they threw some new ones in there. If you went up at tried to talk to someone, chances are they didn’t speak English, but they still knew every word to all the songs. It doesn’t matter that they have no idea what they’re singing about, it has a nice beat and they can sure dance to it. “We Will Rock You” seemed to be a crowd fave. The weather has been really nice, which is great until we get in the gym and it feels like 100 degrees. It’s not too bad though, going through preseason on the island in a gym without air conditioning has prepped me well for the trip!
Yesterday was spent traveling. We left our hotel at 7:30 a.m. and were expecting about an eight hour commute to Croatia. We traveled on a big tour bus with two different Hungarian teams and their coaching staffs. It was a little bit of a tight squeeze but wasn’t too bad, until the air stopped working in the back. We made a stop shortly after the air stopped working and our bus driver managed to fixed it, which we were all beyond happy about. It turned out there was something wrong with the bus (I have no idea exactly what it was) that was causing it to overheat, so we had to make frequent stops that lasted around 20-30 minutes, to make sure we didn’t break down. We also had to go pretty slow (semis were passing us), and every time we went up a large hill (which are really big in Croatia) we had to stop as well. We ended up making it to our hotel around 630pm. Our expected eight-hour trip turned into an 11-hour trip. Needless to say, I haven’t had the greatest luck while traveling on this tour but we made it in time for dinner and opening ceremonies, so that was all that mattered. When I was about to walk into dinner, I heard a woman yell “LOIS!!” and knew it had to be Coley, my head coach, because she and Dan are the only people in the world who call me that. If you know Coley at all, you know that you get greeted with a big smile and even bigger bear hug. At dinner, I found Rigs and got to catch up with her a little. She’s loving it as well. It was definitely awesome to finally meet up with them.
Opening ceremonies were really cool. I got to meet a lot of the different teams; some are as young as 14 and as old college level. There are teams from the U.S., Croatia, Puerto Rico, Montenegro, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Czech Republic, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple. Every team was announced and went up on the steps of history to get pictures taken. When announcing the squads, they would play a song and you would have to try to guess if it was for your team. There are about six USA teams so it made it kind of hard to guess. Ours ended up being an Elvis Presley, none of us guessed it was for us so eventually they just called us up. Naturally, when Coley and Rigo’s teams were announced I was yelling obnoxiously. At the end, everyone just mingled and got pictures.
This morning we had our first match against Italy, who won the division last year. The way the system works in this tournament is by points. Each team plays two matches per day. A match in this tournament consists of three sets to 25, you play 3 sets regardless if you lost the first 2. If you win all three sets, your team gets three big points. The amount of points you have determines where you get placed in playoffs. If you win two of the three sets, your team gets two big points and the other team gets one, and so on. This morning we lost two out of three sets, so we lost the match. However, since we won the last set we still managed to get a point, which will end up being very beneficial when it comes down to making playoffs because every point matters. If that all sounds confusing just read it a couple times and hopefully I explained it well enough to make sense, it took me a couple times to understand. We’re a very competitive team so were all pretty frustrated started with a loss. We lost by about two to three points both sets. We know we didn’t play as well as we could have and made silly mistakes at crucial times, but our coaches are good at reminding us that we’ve only played together for about five days and we’re playing teams that have been training together for months, some even years. We learned a lot from it and were happy with the fact that we started to figure it out and click at the end so we could at least take a set away from the match. We play another match tonight at 8:30 p.m. It’s nice to have some downtime scout some other teams, watch Rigo’s and Coley’s teams, hang out a little by the pool or the beach, enjoy the city and just get some rest in general.
Our match tonight is against the Czech Republic, and we’re more than ready to come back with a win. I haven’t even been here for 24 hours yet, but what I have seen of Croatia, I love. It’s really beautiful and I would encourage everyone to visit it. Our hotel is right next to the Adriatic Sea, which is so awesome. It’s really nice to be reunited with some of the Wolfpack (that’s what we call our team at SB). I’m excited to get to hangout with them more. Everyone who meets Coley and Dan tell me that I look a lot like them. We jokingly talked about me calling them Mom and Dad but then quickly decided that that was creepy and I’m a little old to be their child. Coley and I have decided that saying we’re sisters is believable and if more people keep asking if we’re related, I’m just going to tell them we are instead of explaining that we aren’t. It’s crazy to think I’m six days into the tour. Time is flying so fast. This whole thing is an incredible experience and I’m loving it.