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I missed Monday, August 12th this year. We traveled that entire day and half of the next day from Belgrade, Serbia to Nagano, Japan. The flight to Frankfurt, Germany was fine with a long layover there. We tried to make use of our 6 hour layover by doing a variety of things. Several of the players and staff found places to curl up to get some sleep. I used that time to write my blog, catch up on some lingering emails and buy some lunch. I settled on a Schnitzel sandwich along with a rare Diet Coke. I thought I at least needed to eat some type of German food on my quick trip through that country.
We boarded the Lufthansa flight about 40 minutes late, but what an efficient boarding process. Passengers scan their own boarding pass and enter one of the two jet ways to the huge aircraft. Fortunately, I was in an aisle seat next to a player that did not wake up the entire 11 hour flight except to have breakfast an hour before we landed in Nagano. How does someone do that? I watched a couple of movies, ate dinner, slept, and got up numerous times to stretch and use the restroom. One dinner was served the flight attendants asked that all the window shades be lowered since we were traveling in the daylight. It helped your body think it was evening, I guess. I watched the flight tracker as we fly across Russia and a part of the world I have never flown before.
We landed in Nagano on time at 8:40am Tuesday (my watch is never on the right day any more). We had to reclaim our luggage and check in for a different airline for our final leg of this flight to Sendai, Japan. The people at the airport were so friendly and helpful, talking louder to me in Japanese, when I didn’t understand that I could keep my water bottle going through security. They simply took the bottle of water and slipped it into a machine, pressed a button, and handed the bottle back to me. Why can’t we have this apparatus in the United States??!?! Who knew this technology was available?
We boarded a regional jet to Sendai, Japan for a smooth hour and a half flight. Fortunately, all of our luggage arrived, the host was waiting, and after the players signed a few autographs, we boarded a charter bus for a 45 minute drive to our hotel. Our new team leader was here since I am moving to the role of an assistant coach for this week of competition. He gave us our room keys and while the luggage was unloaded we had a quick lunch – miso soup, salmon, seafood spaghetti, and rice. This is going to be another week of great local food. After getting our luggage to our rooms we had a coaches meeting for 30 minutes to discuss the schedule for the week while the players did 45 minutes of yoga just to get some movement.
I went got to my room, took a shower, unpacked a little and then went for a walk with Bill Kauffman, in our delegation. We are convening for dinner (including pictures of dinner here) at 6:30pm and most of us will go to bed after that. I am writing this blog now so I can hit “upload”when I come back up to the room! By the way, I figured out how to turn on the TV on the first try, as well as changing the channel and controlling the volume. But if you need some help I’ve included a picture of the instructions in the room.
The rest of my time with the team will now be spent on scouting our opponents this week (Czech Republic, Japan and Bulgaria). We’ll have one practice a day along with video review sessions and I’ll be at the gym watching the other teams play instead of arranging laundry and other logistics! I’m looking forward to this new, but familiar role of coaching!
Today I woke up at 1:00am and fortunately went back to sleep and then woke up again at a normal time of 6:00am. I figured out how to make hot tea in my room since it was too early for breakfast and spent some time watching video of Czech Republic before going to breakfast.
There was a great buffet (as seems to be the norm on this trip) with breakfast breads, scrambled eggs, rice, soup, a seafood croquette, fruit and COFFEE! I had about 5 cups of coffee to make sure I was wide awake.
We left for a weight training session at a private gym on our way to practice. The athletes were the only ones that worked out since we had to pay to participate. I spent time visiting with the new doctor, Bill Briner, for this week of the trip. He flew in from New York and will be with us all week volunteering his time.
The practice session was held at the competition site, but in a very small gym. The place was so small the players could not serve without committing a major foot fault or serving it too deep. The players worked pretty hard and were ready for lunch after getting back on the court.
After lunch at the hotel we rested and I spent more time watching video before taking an hour long nap. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and set the alarm so I wouldn’t miss the video session at 5:30pm. Karch did a de-briefing about the competition in Serbia and how much they fought to win that final match. The team shared their feelings of togetherness and willingness to compete hard for each other. It was one of those sessions every coach loves to experience with their team.
After watching introductory videos of the three upcoming opponents we walked down the street to dinner at a Shabu-Shabu restaurant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabu-shabu The meal was delicious and fun to cook your own dinner at the table.
We are back in the hotel and will turn in early to get a full night’s rest in a bed. I am so looking forward to that! Go USA!