Volleyball: How a Sport Is Part of My Travels
It was January 2014, I was just celebrating that I finished my Bachelors in Foreign Languages and Spanish Studies. The truth is that I did not have a concrete plan of what to do with my life afterwards. I started to work in a book store, which was one of the long time goals since I am a huge literature fan (did “Spanish Studies Major” ring any bell?). I had not even planned to started to blog by then, I knew that I had to work a little, save some money and maybe go abroad to use that TEFL Certificate that I just had gotten.
In the other hand, my story with volleyball begun when I was like 8 years old. I played for 10 years, I suffered many injuries and I was always condemned to be a mediocre player, and I don’t feel bad about saying it. I remembered that in Summers, when I attended the Volleyball Camp my favorite moment instead of playing in the court was when we went to the classroom to discuss some theory (yay me! always a huge nerd even for sports!) Most of my coaches were always impressed because since I was 13 I had a good eye for strategy and analysis. Once again, that’s what happens when you are a nerd!
After many years of playing, watching, following, learning volleyball guess what I did? Of course, what nerds do! I got a FIVB Level I Coach Certificate. Ok, translating a little bit: I became certified as a Volleyball Coach for the International Volleyball Federation, even though I have never used it. But yeah, that was my relationship with the sport until that day.
When I talk about that day, I am talking about that period of time when I was already a College Grad and a Bookstore employee and it just a few days after starting to work there. On that day I received a direct message on Twitter with a proposal from a friend —who happens to be a Professional Volleyball Player— asking if I wanted to visit her. There was not too much to think: I said YES immediately, even if that costed me losing that “amazing job” in the Bookstore. As you might noticed, I have not mentioned the destination yet… it was Baku, Azerbaijan. Something that does no happen twice in a life time!
I ordered my visa, packed everything and went to Baku. It was going to be the CEV Champions League Final Four and I know I need to translate again: European Volleyball has a Champions League just like Football and my friend was going to play there, against many of the most famous volleyball players in the world. Me, that same girl who has always been a Volleyball Nerd was about to experience that for the first time.
That trip made me realize about two important things that I have only been able to understand just a few months ago: Traveling and Volleyball are two of the most important things in my life (besides Literature, Languages and Arts, which are important as well!) That is the reason why in August me and one of my best friends started Volleyball Connection, a blog about the sport that we love and that have definitely taken us places in our careers and in some other aspects of our life. So yes, as you can tell, I blog x 2, but it does not really matter when you are doing things you love.
On my most recent trip to Europe in October, Volleyball WAS an important aspect. In Slovenia I met with a Sports Journalist friend who took me to one of the local teams practice. I was able to watch their debut, yes, once again for this years Champions League. Later on that same trip I found out I did not have a structured plan for one of the weeks, so, guess how I decided where to go? I let Volleyball decide!
I knew I was going somewhere in Italy, because I needed to go to Norway later on and the closest international airports(and cheaper!) to Ljubljana where I could take a plane to go to Oslo were definitely in Italy. It was all about thinking which team or which players I wanted to see the most. And let me tell you that watching a game in Italy was in my bucket list for a real long time, and it was my moment! I analyzed, I thought about what was going to be better, I found my choice: I wanted to see Aleksandar Atanasijevic, Luciano De Cecco, Simone Buti and Emanuele Birareli: So I needed to head to Perugia!
I took a bus from Ljubljana to Venice, another from Venice to Bologna, and the next one from Bologna to Perugia, but it was all worth it: I got to see some of the best volleyball and the best fans in the world!
There are definitely many volleyball + travel goals that have not been achieved yet. I can tell you that in my bucket list right now are: watching a game in Poland, one in Russia, and attending the Olympic Games and a World Championship. I hope it happens soon.