by Jennie Finch on May 8, 2011
“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” Abraham Lincoln
When I think of my Mother I think of my rock, my go to, to backbone, and so much more. I am so blessed to have the Mother I do. She is always there and always has been. I cannot think of a time where I didn’t have her there. The many games she has sat through, the many tears she has wiped and the many tears that have fallen from her beautiful green eyes, the many sacrifices, the love she has always shown me, I cannot express my gratitude for my mama! I praise God for the woman and example she is and has helped me become. I look back and she has not once put herself before us, constantly giving and giving. The many back rubs, the patience, the understanding, the many hugs, the constant prayers, she has given me way beyond anything I can put on paper. You have given me and shown me wings so that I could fly! Today and everyday we should all celebrate our Mother’s and the many amazing Mother’s of this world.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thank YOU! I love You!
Happy 5th Birthday Ace!
by Jennie Finch on May 4, 2011
5 years ago today our world was rocked, turned upside down, scattered around, and we were blessed with the greatest gift of all- Our Ace! Our hearts were ripped up and placed inside this 8 lb 11 oz angel. We were blessed with this love that we’d never felt or had before.
So many emotions, joy, excitement, worry, elation, responsibility, happiness, anxiousness- I became a better woman, Casey became a better man. Our dream had come true we were parents, a mom and a dad! Each day our love has only grown. Just when you thought you’ve loved to the moon and back all of sudden its to infinity and back. These last five years have been more than we could of ever hoped for or imagined. May 4, 2006 our lives became more meaningful! It seemed like it was just yesterday Casey and I were handing him off in the middle of the night,that my mom and I were packing him up at 3 months old and heading to China for the World Championships, he was getting his first tooth. And all of a sudden he is reeling in and catching his own fish with his daddy and big ones I have to add!
We love you Ace with every piece of us and are so proud and grateful for each and everyday and moment with you! Time spent with you is never enough… Happy whole hand Big #5 Birthday!
Jennie’s recent blog post for People Magazine
by Jennie Finch on April 19, 2011
Jennie Finch’s Blog: Finding Friends in Fresno
Please give a warm welcome to our newest celebrity blogger, Jennie Finch! The recently retired softball player is expecting her second child in late June and will be sharing her pregnancy experience with us monthly.
The Olympian, 30 — who won gold in Athens and silver in Beijing — and her husband, Major League Baseball pitcher Casey Daigle, are already parents to son Ace Shane, 4½.
Currently 30 weeks along, Finch writes about the family’s latest move — to Fresno, Calif. this time — connecting with new moms in the area, and pitching while pregnant!
We so greatly enjoyed our spring training time in Arizona! It flew by. We saw friends, had softball clinics, visited my old stomping grounds at the University of Arizona, went to games, played, and did a TON of swimming because that was Ace’s favorite thing.
Baby Daigle is super active. We’ve had fun as a family watching my belly shift from side to side. I’ve been able to feel his arms, legs and head. It’s just a sweet, sweet miracle. Casey’s not quite sure how he feels about the moving. He’d rather just look from a distance. I wonder how many other women’s husbands felt the same way? Kind of weirded out by their wife’s belly moving around…
Heartburn and my allergies are constant these days. Tissues and Tums are always on my bedside. I keep telling myself those are small prices to pay for a miracle like this!
I had a blast getting out on the softball field the last few weekends in March. We went out to Bentonville, Arkansas for another Jennie Finch Softball Camp. It is our fourth time going out to Razorback Country and it gets better every time.
It’s such an amazing opportunity to inspire and encourage young women! We live in what seems to be a dark world at times and to see these girls having fun, being active, gaining confidence, learning to deal with adversity, overcome failure, and so much more, inspires me to keep doing it!
I have to say it took me a few days to recover from this one. I needed some serious rest. I’m not sure if it was the pitching and hitting demonstrations being 7 months pregnant, being on my feet all day or what, but it was so worth it! So grateful to be pitching, baby bump in the front. Every time I wonder if it’s the last pitch for a few months.
I’m at that part of my pregnancy, the beginning of the third trimester, when some of the changes to my body get to be a little uncomfortable. I’d forgotten from the first time around, but was reminded when I put on shorts for the first time and it prompted me to start doing walking lunges up and down the hall of our apartment building.
I panicked for a minute, but then laughed about it and realized it’s kind of crazy how much our bodies can change and kind of a miracle that they change back! Just working on taking good care of Baby Daigle in there and the rest will work itself out.
Our next stop is May 14 & 15 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It’s our last JFSCamp before Baby Daigle’s arrival. I need to dig deep and find one more pitching demo within. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to. Fingers crossed! I think a bigger problem is finding enough stretch in my USA Jersey to fit…
Like I said, spring training was so wonderful, but before we knew it, it was over. It’s the life of all but a few ballplayers to not know where you’ll be from one day to the next. Things can change just like that. As it turns out, Casey is starting the season with the San Francisco Giants’ AAA team, the Fresno Grizzlies, so we were excited to pack up our things and head to northern California.
Casey’s off to a great start for the season. He got his first win and save this week out of the bullpen. As a pitcher I have so much respect for the ‘pen. He and the other guys get to the ballpark hours and hours before the game with the rest of the team, but they have to wait and wait to perform. Sometimes it’s after 9 p.m. when they’re called to action. They sit there on the cold metal seats, shivering in their hooded sweatshirts. The craziest part is that they love it!
Casey loves it! He goes to the ballpark every day knowing there might be a chance he gets in and is able to contribute. Last night, there we were, Ace snuggled in, asleep on my shrinking lap, drooling on my shirt, and Casey was getting ready to go in at 10 p.m. and the temperature was in the 40s. My back and arm hurt just watching him!! But we’re both grateful that he can do what he loves.
We’re once again enjoying getting to know a new city and ball club. I’m even happier because there are lots of expecting mommies here with the team, and other kids for Ace to play with. We’re getting to share our belly and baby stories. It’s amazing to be able to share with other women going through the same things as a mom, and trying to do it in the uncertain world of baseball.
Away from family, always in new apartments, we share any info we have as far as keeping our kids on a schedule (even if it’s a very different schedule from other little kids. Their daddies play late and sleep late!), doctors in different cities, and how to pull off a mobile nursery. Women are incredible when it comes to sharing information. If anyone out there has any tips for us, please post them in the comments and I will share with all the other moms up here.
Ace is adjusting well to Fresno. He loves his new room. Lucky for us he’s used to this life! Living out of bags and sleeping in different beds is the norm for him. Finding fun spots for him helps me and Casey connect to new places, too. Parks, play places, indoor pools … it’s the first thing we look for.
Since I’ve partnered with Shout as their new celebrity stain expert, I’ve been talking about how important it is for kids to play (and for us to play with them!) as part of their Go Play initiative. The idea is that we shouldn’t worry about stains from paint or dirt or grass or whatever. Playing is the most important thing, and Shout’s there to clean up the mess.
I’m really happy about the campaign. There was a crazy day of shooting in Arizona that was tons of fun. I had to scramble for wardrobe because nothing I had fit. But what I really loved was that when we got together, they really took into consideration things that are important to me right down to using my number, 27, as part of the program.
They made me think about things I’ve learned and want to share — things I work on every day to keep me and my boys grounded as our family travels around the country. With the pace of our lives and baby number two on the way, I don’t get much time to sit and be thoughtful. It’s nice when work gives me an excuse to do it!
One of the best things in Fresno we’ve discovered is all the fresh produce in the Valley. I’m in heaven. It’s just what I’m craving — avocado, strawberries, citrus. Yum! Speaking of which, the little guy is butternut squash-sized these days. Right around 2 lbs. Ace was 8 lbs., 11 oz, so I’m preparing for lots more growth to come! Taking bets on whether or not baby #2 is going to be bigger.
We also think we’ve got a name picked out, but we’ll see. Although, I think since Ace is already using that name to refer to his baby brother, we’re probably locked in. I’m thinking we should have a contest to see if anyone can guess. I have to figure out what that prize would be, but stay tuned!
– Jennie Finch
Passionately Chasing The Dream!
by Jennie Finch on April 8, 2011
Last night sitting at opening night for Triple A baseball, watching Casey start another season of ball so many thoughts went through my mind. I was in awe of what a beautiful site it was. For starts it may have been the fact that for this wife and mommy I was feeling so completely blessed with my surroundings. I was sitting there with Ace sound asleep on my lap, yes he is 50 lbs and my shirt covered in drool but I was loving every minute of it! Meanwhile, Baby Daigle was kicking and fist pumping for room and letting us know he is in there and squished! It may have been the first brother battle with many more to come but it was so beautiful! I was able to see my husband dressed out in another uniform and in different colors chasing the dream! And I might add he does look good in Orange & Black!
I began reflecting. This is the start of our 10th baseball season together and Casey’s 12th season since he was drafted from high school. When we started dating he was in Single A with the Lancaster Jet Hawks. Wow, where has time gone? Well, all over the US that is for sure. Through all the different levels of baseball and 4 different trips up to the Big Leagues! This is Casey’s 5th Ball Club overall and to think he just turned 30 last Monday! I am so proud of him for all he has accomplished and endured! He has experienced the terrible hotels and long bus rides to the private jets and 5 star hotels! My man has been round and round and up and down! (And the one thing he is probably most proud of is not one of those days of his 12 years has been spent on the DL. Pretty impressive! That is like not using a sick day in 12 years! I have to give him major props but also thank the big Man upstairs for allowing him to stay off the DL and tough enough not to give in and endure the pain at times!)
The craziest call up of all was with the D’Backs. He flew all the way to Florida to meet the team and to sit in the clubhouse for a game not even dress out, only to be sent right back to Tucson back to Triple A the next day! Talk about crazy! This is the reality of baseball. Getting “the call” is hard enough let alone having the opportunity to stick thats another journey!
As I was watching the game admiring the opening night hype and fresh cut green grass I was thinking about the men out there in uniform. Many of these guys have experienced the “Bigs” and are trying to get back there but there is more to it. They are husbands, dads, sons trying to make a living to support their families. These are guys are all waiting hoping for “the call” but meanwhile making the most of each day in uniform. Hoping for “the call” and facing the reality that any day they could get the opposite released or sent down.
I was sitting there with complete admiration of these ball players and them chasing the dream! I was thinking I hope I keep living as though I am chasing a dream! I hope that passion continues within us all. Its the journey of chasing the dream that is the most memorable indeed! The ups and downs, the joy and heartbreak, the victory and defeat, may we continue chasing the dream just like these men in uniform! Not focusing on the what ifs but passionately living-chasing a dream, your dream! Meanwhile, continue to admire and be inspired by others chasing their dream like this mama was last night especially our very own #41!
May we all Continue to Dream & Believe!
Our First Olympic Qualifier by Alisha Glass
by Brynn Murphy on September 27, 2011
We just finished competing in the NORCECA tournament in Caguas, Puerto Rico. We went undefeated and won the tournament, which also won us a spot in the World Cup, the first opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. The team is really coming together and we are looking forward to our last tournament of year three of this quad. World Cup doesn’t start until the end of October, so we were lucky enough to score a week long break.
I haven’t been home since April. Home for me is Leland, Michigan. I grew up in a very small town, but the perk of small towns is the community feel. I go home and am greeted with so much love, not only from my immediate family, but community members that follow my career and support every step of my journey.
My mom is a high school volleyball coach and even coached me in high school, so it was fun to see her team play and interact with the players. My mom is an amazing coach and through volleyball, teaches the girls on her team life lessons. It’s amazing to see the young girls committed to the team and to her. I think it’s so important for young athletes to commit to working hard and to developing relationships with their teammates and coaches.
Getting a break from volleyball was also nice! Small towns are great for having unique restaurants. I crave this cherry chicken salad sandwich on an amazing herb bread from Sisson’s Main Street Specialties. If you ever find yourself in Leland Michigan, make sure you get one! I had lunch there with my grandparents and two of our dear family friends.
I also got to see my niece Lilly, who technically isn’t my niece because she’s my cousin’s daughter, but because my cousin and I are like sisters, I will always be Aunt Alisha to Lilly. We might be biased, but we consider her one of the cutest babies around.
My trip home had to be productive, because the next time I’m home, I’ll be getting ready for my season in Poland. Last year I was in Brazil and with living in California, most of my wardrobe is geared towards warm weather. I went shopping for sweaters, jackets, boots, hats, etc. I’m not a fan of being cold, even though I’m from Michigan. I’ve also been checking out the gear in the new Mizuno volleyball catalogue for some warmer gear to train in. I’m a big fan of the ¾ Warm Up Tights, and also of the Maverick Warm Up Top. I think I’ll also need a Mizuno Hoody to help keep me warm!
So much will be happening in the next couple months between World Cup and Poland, the finishing of one season and the start of another. Each brings different focuses and challenges. I’m reminded every time I go home, that what I get to do for a living right now, is so different from the norm. I’m blessed to be in a position to travel the world and play the sport I love. I look back on the hard work and sacrifices that it took to get where I am today, and I’m grateful I had the support of a great community and family in order to make the dream a reality.
Off to a Good Start! by Ryan Millar
by Brynn Murphy on September 21, 2011
At the end of August into the beginning of September, we competed in our zone championship in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. When we play in Puerto Rico, we usually play in either in San Juan or Caguas, so a change in venue was something new. It was very hot and very humid as we started practice in preparation for the start of the tournament. We started off very strong, beating Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, and Cuba to finish first in our pool. A first place finish gave us a bye past the quarter finals, straight into the semi finals where we matched up against Puerto Rico. The winner of this match would go onto the finals and more importantly qualify for the World Cup in November. The World Cup is the first opportunity we will have to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. We ended up winning 3-0 against Puerto Rico and achieving our goal. In the final we ended up playing Cuba again and losing a close match 2-3. All in all we did what we set out to do which was qualifying. I know the rest of the guys will be eager to play Cuba again as we do not like losing to them at all.
I am gearing up for another year overseas. Should be another interesting and fun adventure. I am looking forward to playing in a new place and competing with new players. I hope I can add value to the team and create some success.
Back-to-Back Grand Prix Champions by Jordan Larson
by Emily Adams Knight on September 13, 2011
Many things have happened since the last time I blogged. When I last wrote we had just finished our first week of Grand Prix in China and had three left to go. We traveled to Japan and Hong Kong and won our pools at each location which qualified us for the finals in Macau, China. We were put into pools of 4 and played a round robin tournament for the first three days. We finished 2nd in our pool, after losing to Brazil in four sets, which placed us against Serbia in the Semifinal. We beat Serbia in three which moved us into the FINALS and a rematch against Brazil! Every time we meet up with Brazil it is a battle, they are a great team and bring it every time they step on the floor. Our USA squad came out strong and never let up. We beat them in three and became back-to-back Grand Prix CHAMPIONS!
This was the first time in my career that I have won back-to-back championships. It is definitely a feeling you could get used too! This victory had even more significance though. It proved that we have a great team that can take any team in the world and challenge them. Even at times when all of us aren't firing on all cylinders, we found a way to battle as a team. Every chance we had to score or get a run of points we were fighting till the whistle. What people don't realize is the mental struggle it takes to get through 5 straight matches in 5 days. You have to focus on every point and make sure you are executing at a high level. This month long tournament definitely takes a toll on your mind and body.
When our team spends so much time away from home some of us players get into weekly habits. One of the habits on this last trip was regularly watching Bachelor Pad and Jersey Shore. Since we can't watch these shows live we resort to finding them on the internet. This is our time to get our mind off of volleyball and really enjoy the company of each other. Not only do we have TV nights, we also try to entertain ourselves outside the hotel with things that remind us of home. While we were in Japan and China there were many strolls around the hotel to Starbucks and 7Eleven's. My favorite drink to get at Starbucks is the White Chocolate Mocha. I was first introduced to this drink back in college by my college teammate Tracy Stalls. On this trip I ventured out when my teammate Christa Harmotto came on the bus with a Starbucks in hand, it was the new Mint Mocha. I had never tried it before and she knows how much I crave Starbucks so she offered for me to try it. It was fabulous.
Okay enough about Starbucks.. Let's discuss some secrets of the U.S. National Team.
I would like everyone to meet Filo.
Filo is the stuffed animal of none other than the Captain of our National team Jen Tamas. Filo has been a part of Jen's life since she was five. She said that when she was young she would go to her grandparents house in Iowa and her Grandfather would often go to the Goodwill and buy a bag full of toys for only 5 dollars. He would then come home, move all the furniture in the living room and dump all the toys in the middle for her and all of her cousins to choose from. She said she saw Filo and could not imagine her life with him. After winning a struggle with her cousin that had the same idea, Jen was not going to let Filo go. She said she ran into the bedroom and stuffed him in the bottom of her sleeping bag and would often check to make sure he was still there. Little did she know she would have to be doing the same thing almost 24 years later. Filo travels with us wherever we go because she cannot sleep without him. For her this is her comfort on the road, it is her sense of home. We often like to tease her about this by trying to steal Filo, because we know she cannot sleep without it. There have been many nights of panic from Jen because she can't find him. We find ways to inflict pain on Filo and send Jen pictures with ransom notes attached. We find it very entertaining and it keeps things on the team very light hearted. This is where Jen found Filo one morning after practice... Poor Filo :(
After getting back to California there has been little time for rest. We have been preparing for the Norceca tournament in Puerto Rico. The top two teams from this tournament will qualify for the World Cup in November which is the first tournament that can qualify us for the Olympics. This is a really important time for our team and this is the time that we have all been training for. I know I grew up saying I wanted to play in the Olympics but I never knew the full process it took to actually make the Olympics. We have to finish in the top 3 in the World Cup to qualify for the Olympics.
After the Norceca tournament we get to have a little time at home. I am really looking forward to spending some quality time with family and friends which will include the wedding of some good friends. After the small break we will continue to train and prepare for the World Cup. Then it will be time for me to go back to the frozen tundra, Russia, to join my professional team. I look forward to playing with my teammates over there and competing overseas again.
Dream Big & Never Settle
Mizuno MLB Ambassador of the Week - Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
by Mizuno USA on September 6, 2011
September Baseball is all about the down-to-the-wire Pennant races. The best race is taking place in the American League West Division, where Mizuno Brand Ambassador Ian Kinsler and the Texas Rangers hold a slim 2.5 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Kinsler and the defending American League Champs won two critical series this past week - at home against the Tampa Bay Rays, and on the road in Fenway against the Boston Red Sox. Kinsler was an extra-base hit machine, with four homeruns, a triple, eight RBI, three walks, and a stolen base. Kinsler plays with the Mizuno Pro Limited GMP41 Ball Glove, wears custom 9-Spike Vintage G6 Cleats and 5 inch Mizuno Wristbands, uses the Global Elite Batting Gloves, and swings the Mizuno Pro Maple MZM243 Bat.
Stacy Lewis to represent United States in the Solheim Cup
by Iver Maple on September 1, 2011
JPX-800 player Stacy Lewis has capped her amazing 2011 season by qualifying for the U.S. Solheim Cup Team.
The Solheim Cup takes place Sept. 23-25, at Killeen Castle in Ireland and this is Stacy’s first appearance in the event.
Lewis turned professional after graduating with a degree in finance from Arkansas in 2008, and won qualifying school earning her LPGA Tour card in her first attempt.
Lewis played two full seasons before notching her first Tour (and MAJOR) win in 2011, coming from behind to defeat the No. 1 player in the world and win the Kraft Nabsico title. Lewis has had a tremendous 2011 and last week posted the lowest final day score of 67 in the Canadian Open, falling only one stroke short in a T-2 effort.
We wish Stacy the best of luck in Ireland!
Mizuno MLB Ambassador of the Week - Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers
by Mizuno USA on August 29, 2011
The Milwaukee Brewers have been the hottest team in baseball over the past several weeks, going 20-5 so far in the month of August, and opening up a 10.5 game lead in the National League Central Division. Last week the Brewers were led by the hot bat of right fielder and Mizuno Brand Ambassador Corey Hart. Hart was 13-for-26 (.500) on the week, with three homeruns, nine runs scored, a double, a triple, five RBI, and three walks. Hart is currently riding an 11-game hit streak through Sunday.
Back Together by Ryan Millar
by Brynn Murphy on August 18, 2011
Back together and back to work.
After the grueling schedule of the World League and World League Finals, we were lucky to have some time off. A few of the guys got to spend that time playing in the Olympic Test Event, while some of the others including myself got to stay states side and work on getting stronger and more dynamic. After a few weeks of getting after it in the weight room all of the team got a well deserved week off. I am sure that everyone had a great time with family and friends. I got to be at home for a while before heading out to Casper, WY. to do my annual volleyball camp there. With me was fellow Olympic Gold Medalist and Team USA Libero Rich Lambourne (come to find out later that this was actually Rich’s first volleyball camp experience as a coach). We had a great time in WY. The people there and the kids that attended the camp were all very grateful to have us. There hospitality made the camp that much more enjoyable. Mizuno provided the camp T shirts (thanks again Brynn!) The kids loved them. They worked hard for 4 long days. It always amazes me to see the energy of a 15-16 year old volleyball player that loves the game. When you get to be a part of a camp where the kids are excited and eager to play volleyball, it makes coaching them fun.
After the camp was over I made my way back down to Southern California to start training and begin to prepare to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. The first step in qualifying will be a NORCECA Zone tournament in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico at the end of August. The NORCECA Zone is our international volleyball zone. Teams also in the zone include Cuba, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Barbados. We need to be in the finals of that tournament to qualify for the World Cup. Now the World Cup is the first FIVB tournament where a qualification into the Olympic Games is possible. The top three teams at the World Cup qualify for the Olympic Games. I have played in 3 World Cups in my career with Team USA, and at every one of them we have finished 4th!! One spot away from qualifying. Hopefully this year will be different.
So that is where we are right now. We are focusing on fine tuning the things we are good at, and getting better at the things we aren’t. Volleyball is the complete and ultimate team sport. There will always be 6 players that will need to depend and trust one another. The teams that are successful do this. The teams that aren’t usually aren’t successful.
Mizuno MLB Ambassador of the Week - Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
by Mizuno USA on August 15, 2011
The Atlanta Braves, while not likely to catch the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East, hold the second best record in the National League, and currently lead the NL Wild Card race. Chipper Jones has been swinging a hot bat for the Braves over the past week, going 9-for-19 (.473) with five runs scored, two doubles, a home run, and 4 RBI. Jones also picked up the 1,000th extra base hit of his career on Friday night in a 10-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. Chipper plays with the Mizuno Classic Pro Soft GCP53 Ball Glove, wears Mizuno's 9-Spike Classic G6 Mid Switch Cleats and 2 inch Navy Wristbands, and also uses the Mizuno Vintage Pro G3 Batting Gloves.
FIVB Grand Prix by Alisha Glass
by Mizuno USA on August 11, 2011
Hello from Luohe, China!!
The Women's National Team is getting ready to compete in the FIVB Grand Prix tournament. Last year we had great success! Personally, last year's Grand Prix was my first big International tournament. The team started off a little rocky, but we ended up winning the whole thing! I also received the Best Setter Award. It was a great accomplishment for my first summer competing with the National Team.
The Grand Prix is a very long and tough tournament. It is four weeks long and it takes place in four different countries, one country each week. We play in pools of four teams and play three matches a week. The first three weeks determines what teams make it to the final week. This year our first stop is China, followed by Japan, Hong Kong, and then if we make the finals week, we'll return to China for the last week, only in a different city, Macau.
Training this summer has been up and down for me because I'm coming back to playing after fracturing my finger while playing professionally in Brazil in January. Fortunately, I made it back to playing for the first two tournaments of the summer. I've never really had a play-limiting injury before and it's been really hard for me mentally. I have to remember that a couple months ago, I couldn't set a ball, and now I have gotten the opportunity to travel with the team to this tournament.
I've been working on my mental game just as much as I have been my physical game. It's important to work hard and stay positive. There will be tough days where things just don't feel right and days where I'll feel like I'm on top of the world. It's important to learn from the tough days and know that if I stay consistent with my effort and stay focused, that I'll soon have way more good days than bad.
The team has been training hard and we are looking forward to start competing in matches. The thing that is great about playing with the National Team is that it is always competitive; we compete hard against each other every day. It's important to give your best in practice because not only does it make you better, it makes the people around you better as well.
Off the court, our team is a pretty fun group. I think you have to have a sense of humor if you have 24 hour travel days that consist of 12 hour plane rides and five different airports, all the while losing a day from the time change, and the second you get to the hotel, you have to change into practice clothes and head to the gym. People can get pretty delirious from a trip like that, but through the delirium, we had a good practice.
Eating on an international trip isn't easy as well. You never know what to expect so you definitely bring your own snacks. It's good to try new things, however, sometimes I let my teammates try things and let me know how it is, just to be on the safe side!
We practice hard and watch a lot of video, but we usually have some downtime and we understand the need for people to check out mentally from volleyball. Our team likes to catch up on the latest Bachelor or Bachelorette, or sometimes discuss what's happening on the Real Housewives of anywhere or even Basketball Wives. It might not be educational, but it's a good escape.
Four weeks is a long time to be gone and we're just at the beginning. We definitely miss our family and friends but we know that they love us and support our efforts to represent our country in international competition. This could be a great four weeks for USA volleyball. I can't wait to see how it all turns out!
On the Road by Jordan Larson
by Brynn Murphy on August 10, 2011
Hello from Nagoya Japan,
Myself and the rest of the girls with the U.S. National team have just arrived at our second destination of the Grand Prix Tournament. Grand Prix is a month long tournament spent in a different country every week. Each week we play a round robin type tournament with three other teams. It is a difficult tournament to win because there is a lot of travel involved which translates to often playing in different time zones each week against some of the top teams in the world. Last week we had the opportunity to play Serbia, Kazakhstan & China in Luohe, China.
Our opening match was against Serbia. Serbia is a big, physical team similar to the teams I have played against in Russia. The professional team I have played with for the last two seasons, Dinamo Kazan, is in the Russian Super League. We came out very strong and won the first two sets but Serbia did not give up and pushed us to a fifth set. In the end we found a way to win but I felt we did not accomplish some of the little things that we work so hard on every day. It was time to refocus and get ready for the next match against Kazakhstan.
Team Photo In China before playing Serbia:
The next morning the team got up, ate breakfast, did our normal serve and pass routine, and watched video on Kazakhstan. We played a pretty steady match for the most part but got into a little trouble in the 2nd set. Once we pulled through that rough patch we were able to finish the game in three. We played together and played smart, but there was no time to relax. We had the home team China the next day. It is always hard to beat a team when they are playing at home. I remember playing for Nebraska in front of 17,000 Nebraska fans to the win the national championship in 2006 and think about how difficult it must have been for the opposing team.
Team Huddle during our match against Kazakhstan:
This would be my third time playing China this summer. Earlier in the summer I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Montreux Switzerland with the team. In that tournament we face China two times, once in pool play and then in the bronze medal match. As expected, China came out strong in front of the home crowd but we were able to slowly take over the match. We played a solid game and defeated China in 3.
Putting up a block against China:
While being in China this past week on August 4th I celebrated my mom's 53rd birthday. Her birthday is important to be because I lost her to breast cancer 2 years ago this September. Her birthday gives me a chance to celebrate her and what she has done to impact my life. She pushed me to be the best person and player I could be and I am forever grateful for the 22 years I got to spend with her. Now she is with me wherever I go.
My mom and I on my wedding day:
Another interesting fact about being on this trip is that in some countries we cannot eat the meat. There have been a couple USA athletes that have tested positive for a certain steroid that has been found in the meats. Needless to say we have had to pack pounds and pounds of packaged protein. If you can see the picture below, my carry-on is packed full with protein bars, beef jerky, packaged tuna, protein powder for shakes, and nuts. Instances like this are when you have to find a way to be comfortable being uncomfortable. This phrase has saved my life over the past few years with living overseas. When you are on a 14 hour train ride through Russia in a small room with people you don't know that don't speak English, everything smells and is dirty you have to find a way to get through.
Picture of all my protein for this trip... this is my carry-on:
Thinking about this past weekend there are a lot of things we did well as a team but there is always room for improvement. One of the things I am working on as a player is trying to be more efficient. Over the past two years I have really changed from the player I was in college and I work every day to continue to get better. I look forward to seeing what our team is capable of next week as we face Dominican Republic, Japan, and Serbia. We have a lot of talent on this team but we must continue to play together and control the things we can on our side of the net.
Dream Big & Never Settle,
Mizuno MLB Ambassador of the Week - Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers
by Mizuno USA on August 8, 2011
The Milwaukee Brewers have a three game lead in the National League Central Division through Sunday. Mizuno Brand Ambassador and Starting Pitcher Zack Greinke has been a big reason behind the Brewers recent surge to the top of the Division. Greinke picked up two more wins last week, throwing six solid innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, and firing seven strong innings at the Houston Astros on Sunday. Greinke allowed just three runs on the week (an incredible 2.08 ERA), while picking up 11 strikeouts.
Mizuno MLB Ambassador of the Week - Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
by Mizuno USA on August 1, 2011
The Kansas City Royals put together a winning record during their recent 7-game grueling road trip against the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. A big part of their road success last week was Mizuno Brand Ambassador and KC Designated Hitter Billy Butler. Butler was 13-for-32 on the week (.406) with two doubles, five homeruns, and 12 RBI, as the Royals split a four game series at Fenway, and took two of three from the Tribe.
Mizuno MLB Ambassador of the Week - Hideki Matsui, Oakland A's
by Mizuno USA on July 25, 2011
Oakland A's designated hitter and Mizuno Brand Ambassador Hideki Matsui had a week to remember. Matsui picked up his 500th career home run, combining his professional careers in Japan as well as Major League Baseball. On the week, he was 12-21 (.571) with four runs scored, two doubles, two homeruns, and seven RBI. Matsui belted his 500th career homerun in a win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, but his best performance of the week was in a losing effort to his former team, the New York Yankees, on Sunday. Matsui was 5-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI, as the A's fell to the Yankees 7-5.
Mizuno MLB Ambassador of the Week - Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
by Mizuno USA on July 18, 2011
The New York Yankees are once again in a tight American League East Division pennant race. Mizuno Brand Ambassador and Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner is doing his part to ensure that the Pinstripes get back to their usual spot in the postseason. Gardner has been red-hot since returning from the All-Star break, going 10-for-16 (.625), with three doubles, a walk, and three stolen bases during a four-game series with the Blue Jays. The Yankees split the series, and remain just 1.5 games out of first in the division, but have a 5.5 game lead in the AL Wild Card race.
Mizuno Canada Blogging Online
by Adam Vella on July 12, 2011
Mizuno Canada is now online to bring you blogs from some of our most respected and a knowledgable ambassadors. Stay tuned for blogs from Canada's best slo-pitch hitter Todd Cadenhead, and other blogs from The Baseball Zone ambassadors Rick Johnston and Ryan Armstrong. You will also find updates from Mizuno staff on upcoming product launches and events. We are extremely excited for this new content on our website and hope you check back often! Thank you, Mizuno Canada Diamond Division
Donald Dominates in Scotland
by Iver Maple on July 11, 2011
Luke Donald showed that a short break worked wonders for his energy levels - winning his third title of the year at the Barclays Scottish Open.
With the stop-start 54 hole event hitting its stride on the last day, Donald showed that his nerve was the strongest of all, shooting a flawless 63 in the final round. The win secured Donald's #1 World Ranking - building on wins at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play in February and the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in May.The last round 63 was the lowest of Donald's professional career and took him to an incredible 19 under par total and a four shot cushion.
Donald now moves onto Sandwich, Kent in the hunt for his first major championship.
"It's nice to get another victory - I can get used to this," Donald said. "To do it on a links is even better and when I play well I tend to do reasonably well the next week.”
"I holed putts when I needed to, and it's nice to do it when it matters.”
“If you played well it was there for the taking and with the greens being softer and very little wind. But I holed the putts when I needed to, and I holed a bunch of 20, 25 footers out there today, and had a good feel for the greens. I was seeing the lines very well and it was nice to hold them when it mattered.”
“I felt good out there. I felt very comfortable and very in control, and that's a good sign for next week.”
Donald will lead a strong Mizuno team at The Open, with fellow PGA Tour Staffer Charles Howell III, and European Tour members Peter Whiteford and Markus Brier.
Mizuno MLB Ambassador of the Week - Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers
by Mizuno USA on July 11, 2011
The Los Angeles Dodgers ended the first half of the season on a high note, taking a four-game win streak into the All-Star Break. Mizuno Brand Ambassador and LA starting pitcher Chad Billingsley kept the Dodgers' recent winning ways alive on Friday against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers won the game 1-0, as Billingsley fired eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits while striking out four Padres hitters. He finished the first half at 8-7, with a 3.87 ERA and 100 strikeouts. Billingsley plays with the Mizuno Pro Limited GMP63 Ball Glove, and wears Mizuno's 9-Spike Vapor Elite Low G4 cleats.
Luke Donald's Diary -- Getting Ready for the Open Championship
by Luke Donald on July 7, 2011
I'm making every effort to improve my Open Championship record.
I caught St. George's on two very nice days with not too much wind.
My build-up to Sandwich next week has included playing Royal St. George’s last Thursday and Friday. Then I went on to Prince’s, Rye and Royal Cinque Ports. It was good preparation.
I had a few friends with me so I could make it a little competitive. It was great fun and a good way to get in form for not only the Open but for the Scottish Open – held on a links course this time, Castle Stuart up near Inverness.
It’s the first time I’ve played the Scottish Open since it moved to Loch Lomond and Castle Stuart’s links is great preparation for next week as well. It takes a while to get into the mode of playing links golf, judging bounces, getting used to chip-and-runs, especially under competitive conditions. With my practice last week around St George’s this week’s preparation is even more relevant.
I also managed to catch an afternoon with the Mizuno boys and Golf Monthly to show off some new iron models – at some stage these MP-62’s are going to be worn out. Don’t think I’m allowed to mention the new ones specifically yet – but they were very impressive.
I caught St George’s on two very nice days with not too much wind, so the course wasn’t playing overly difficult and I had chance to do some plotting my around under good conditions. The way the course was set up it suits me fine. It’s a positional layout. I don’t think length will be an issue and you’re going to have to be proficient around the greens. Like every tournament, if you can putt well you’re going to be very successful. Obviously with a bit of wind it will change. The wind may well decide the winner. I’m really looking forward to the challenge – whether it’s windy or the conditions are benign.
For the trip to St George’s my coach Pat was with me, so we got some work in, much of it just maintenance, working on the same things I have been all year. I’m still concentrating on getting a little more grounded with my feet, getting that shift earlier in my legs. That gets the club coming down on a little bit better path, a little bit more from inside. I’m able to hit those nice holds against a left-to-right wind. I’m also experimenting with a traditional 2 iron, rather than the Mizuno Fli-Hi hybrid. The workshop boys made one up from an MP-62 3 iron head for me – not sure they make the old style 2 irons anymore. Jury’s still out whether I use it or not.
As I’ve said, putting is always paramount and I’m very diligent about preparing different aspects with the putter – working on lag putts and then getting closer to the hole and doing a few drills. One of the drills I do is a 4-8ft drill where I take 20 balls around four different holes. I have to hole at least 15 out of 20 otherwise I start again. It’s a good way to get you concentrating and becoming good at making putts around the hole.
I’m keeping my own log during tournament weeks, trying to come up with different goals to keep me accountable. When I’m out practicing or playing a tournament round I’m trying to focus on certain things, to keep improving…a certain number of fairways hit, for instance, greens hit, even some postural goals. This makes sure I’m putting in 100 percent effort.
At St George’s it was just a case of getting a good feel for the course. I’ll set myself goals of trying to hit so many fairways and greens later. But I did jot down a few statistical goals.
I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a fantastic Open. The man to beat? I don’t think you need look further than Rory McIlroy if he plays like he did at the U.S. Open. When I saw him on the range at the Congressional he was a different player to the one who looked so uptight before his final round at Augusta. You just knew he wasn’t going to take his foot off the gas.
It was a real baptism of fire for me the last time the Open was played at St George’s. I was kind of pushed in the deep end, playing with Tiger and Sergio for the first two days in only my second year as a professional. It was an honor to play with them but it was a slightly unusual start. Tiger lost his ball!
While I didn’t play that great it was a good experience. I remember missing the cut by a couple of shots but it was interesting watching Tiger and Sergio. It was an embarrassing experience for my brother Chris, though. He was caddying for me of course, and the strap broke on the bag on the 10th hole. There was a huge gallery with us naturally, and he had to carry the bag up the hill like a suitcase. He somehow managed to tie it together and it just about held for the back nine.
by Corporate on July 6, 2011
John Stacey’s passion for sports and his competitive nature started from his early years growing up in a family of four boys, all of whom excelled in various sports.
John’s love of sports has transcended into his business career. He is the President of Mizuno Canada Ltd. John held previous positions with the company as General Manager & VP Finance & Operations over a 14 year career.
During a 5 year span (1997-2002) away from Mizuno, John spent 2 years as the Chief Financial Officer of Janes Family Foods (Vaughan, ON based family company in the Frozen Food business) and 3 years as a Partner in Chartered Accounting/Consulting business.
After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in the Honours Business program, John started his career with KPMG (formerly Peat Marwick Mitchell). John spent 7 years with KPMG and obtained his Chartered Accountant (CA) designation in 1999. He gained valuable hands on experience in the Private Business practice at KPMG, which has lead to his entrepreneurial spirit in building the tremendous success of the Mizuno brand in Canada.
John resides in Kleinburg, ON with his wife and two daughters. His daughters are both very athletic (track and ice hockey) and the family enjoys an active lifestyle.
by Corporate on July 6, 2011
Dave has spent more than 25 years in the Sporting Goods Industry in Canada and is a passionate Baseball and Golf fan. Dave joined Mizuno Canada in January of 2002 as a Territory Manager for all divisions in Ontario. In 2006 Bartlett moved to head office and joined the Mizuno Canada Management Team. He is responsible for leading all aspects of the Mizuno Team Sports Division which includes Baseball, Softball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch and Volleyball. During the past 5 years Dave has initiated many programs to create a strong Team Dealer program in Canada. Dave also deals directly with all of Mizuno Canada's sponsored associations including Volleyball Canada, Baseball Canada, Softball Canada, Slo-Pitch Nationals and is instrumental in growing the Mizuno brand at the collegiate and university level.
by Corporate on July 6, 2011
Mark is a 24 year veteran of the sporting goods industry. His career began in 1987 and spent his first 14 years travelling as a sales representative in the Ontario market. During these years he gained valuable experience selling a cross section of categories including footwear, tennis, golf and sports apparel.
In 1997 Mark joined the Mizuno Golf Division as a sales representative in the Greater Toronto Area and in 2001 accepted the role of Sales Manager for Mizuno Canada Golf. In 2007, Mark then took on the responsibility for the Running Division and today is the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Golf and Running Divisions.
Originally from Vancouver Mark is an avid runner with an extensive background in both golf and rugby.
Help Send Victor Martinez and Todd Helton to the 2011 All-Star Game
by Mizuno USA on July 5, 2011
Once again Major League Baseball is allowing fans to vote on the final roster spot for both leagues. This year, Mizuno has a Brand Ambassador for both the AL and NL eligible for the final spot. On the AL side, Detroit Tigers catcher/DH Victor Martinez is one of the final vote candidates. V.Mart has the third highest batting average in the AL through Monday, hitting .328 on the season. In the NL, Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton has been nominated for the final spot. Helton, who once again is amongst the league leaders in hitting (batting .319 through Monday) is looking to get back to the ASG for the first time since 2004!
Click Here to Vote for both Mizuno Brand Ambassadors, and help them get to Phoenix for the 2011 All-Star Game!
Mizuno MLB Brand Ambassador of the Week - Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies
by Mizuno USA on July 5, 2011
The Colorado Rockies are in third place in the ultra competitive National League West Division through Monday. While the Rox are 6.5 games out of first place, they are poised to make one of their typical second half surges to get into the thick of the playoff race. One of the staples in their lineup is veteran first baseman and Mizuno Brand Ambassador Todd Helton. Helton was on a tear this past week, going 11-for-24 (.458) with two doubles, four walks, and five RBI.
He was left off the NL All-Star team this past Sunday, but was one of the five nominated players for the final vote roster spot. Fans can vote for Helton by clicking here:
Chris Wood Diary -- May 2011
by Chris Wood on May 7, 2011
I had to put out an SOS to Mizuno last week - for a new wedge.
I broke mine last week in Korea, not out of aggression but a pure accident. It got wrapped round a tree. I was playing a recovery shot and followed through into the trees. So thanks boys for coming to my rescue.
Perhaps that little mishap rather reflects how the last few weeks have gone – when things could go wrong they did!
It’s been nice to get back to Europe. I really struggled to enjoy the Asia swing. I didn’t play great, I was a long way from home, and I tend to struggle with the food.
Having a couple of different caddies didn’t help either. Dave McNeilly and I split up for a couple of months. Changing caddies always causes a bit of an upheaval. We’re back together now, though. We felt we needed a change. Dave was as happy as I was for us to get back together. We get on so well and it’s so easy working with him on the course. He’s a great caddie, not the best organized person but that’s his character. I have to accept every now and then he’s going to lose something, never his cool mind though. We’ve been together for two years. He knows my game so well and I trust everything he says on the course. With the season really kicking off now, it’s great for us to be back together. Sometimes it’s good to have a break and I think it’s done both of us good.
I just need things to settle down now and get 100 percent focused on what I’m doing on the course. I just feel like I’ve not been able to do that for a long time.
Everything boded well at the start of the year – lost in a playoff at the Africa Open – and I found a little bit of form on the desert swing. Dubai I played really nicely but I made a course management error on the 14th in the last round when I was only one shot off the lead. It was costly. I finished 10th in the end and I was very disappointed because I’d played well enough otherwise to win.
The game’s been there all season so far but I just haven’t been quite scoring well enough since the desert swing. So for a couple of months it’s been pretty frustrating. Amongst the other things my putting has held me back a bit again. The putting is still a work in progress really, although everyone feels they should hole a few more putts. The frustration comes through knowing my long game is so good that I’m setting up so many chances. But I’ve not been taking them. I have seen a bit of progress this week (at El Prat). I’ve felt I’ve putted well on greens that are very tricky.
My work with putting coach Phil Kenyon, which I started at last year’s Scottish Open, has helped tremendously. We changed my posture and grip and I’ve seen good results from the technical side. But we’ve got to a stage now that there’s not a lot more we can work on technically – maybe a little bit on the set-up.
I’m pleased to where we’ve got to in the last eight months but I’ve now decided to leave the technical side alone and try and get the ball in the hole rather than worry about what’s going on in the stroke.
My driving and iron play gives me nothing to worry about. With Mizuno we’ve been trying to better the MP-630 9.5 degree driver I’ve been using for over a year now - but we can’t find anything that can better it. I can’t drive the ball any better than I’m doing. All the numbers we’re getting on the Trackman with a couple of new drivers – slightly different shafts, movement of the weight a little in the head, slightly different loft – don’t show an improvement on what I’m using. So it proved Mizuno did a really good job a year ago for me. The MP-630 won’t be shifted.
The MP-68’s are going really well, though I'm due a new set because I’ve worn the sweet spots out! I’ve already added a couple of MP-63 long irons (#3 and #4) which give me a little more stability at that end of the bag. Like how they look in the bag too.
Anyway it’s been great to get back home to Bristol. I’ve already had a couple of barbecues on my balcony. Let’s hope I’ll be roasting a few courses over the next few months.
Mizuno Brand Ambassador Lonnie Chisenhall Shines in Major League Debut
by Mizuno USA on June 28, 2011
Cleveland Indians third baseman and Mizuno Brand Ambassador Lonnie Chisenhall made his Major League debut Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He doubled in his second at-bat, and finished the night 2-for-4 with an RBI. The Tribe ended a three game losing streak by defeating the D-Backs 5-4.
The 21-year-old Chisenhall is the Indians top rated prospect, according to both MLB.com and Baseball America. Chisenhall is a head-to-toe Mizuno athlete, playing with a Mizuno Pro Limited GMP50 Ball Glove, Vintage Pro G3 Batting Gloves, and wearing Mizuno's 9-Spike Classic G6 Cleats.
Mizuno Irons Take Home Three "Player's Choice" Awards from Golfing Magazine
by Mizuno USA on June 27, 2011
The latest edition of Golfing Magazine includes their annual irons review, in which all four irons from Mizuno's current lineup were very well received. In fact, three of our irons - JPX-800 Pro, MP-63, and MP-53 - all received 2011 "Player's Choice" Awards from the publication. Golfing Magazine ranked all the irons based upon appearance, forgiveness, feel, consistency, and distance.
In the Game Improvement category, both the JPX-800 and JPX-800 Pros scored very well. The JPX-800 were atop the list for distance, while the JPX-800 Pros led for appearance, forgiveness, feel, and consistency, which earned these clubs a "Player's Choice Award". The feedback from the testers was extremely positive for both clubs as well.
For the Players Irons, both the MP-63 and MP-53 took home "Player's Choice Awards". The MP-63s, which Golfing Magazine referred to as the "Best Mizuno's ever", earned high marks for appearance and feel, while the "highly recommended" MP-53s picked up 5 out of 5 stars for appearance, forgiveness, and feel.