Happy New Year!! This year is a big year for everyone involved in the Olympics!! Can't believe it's already here. However, there are still many events that occurred in 2011 that I would like to tell you about. First, is our trip to Zurich, Switzerland. This was my second trip to Switzerland this year as I went to Montreux earlier this summer with the National team and needless to say it was beautiful. We were going to Zurich to play a champions league match against Volero Zurich. We arrived a couple days before the match so we were able to walk around a bit. It was nice to get out for a bit and of course grab a Starbucks. :) The most important thing was the match and we were able to take care of business. We were able to beat them in 4 but they definitely put up a fight.
After we returned from Switzerland we took a trip to one of our sponsors to receive a gift. Since my first season we have been sponsored by a fur company called Melita. Melita is a well-known fur company all over Europe. In Russia fur is a must have, but a lot of people cannot afford high end fur because it is too expensive so needless to say the girls on my team were thrilled. My first season here I got a coat tailor made just for me. It was made out of beaver and fox. I also received a blanket made out of beaver. One fur coat is enough for me so last season I chose wolf pelt and also another blanket made out of beaver. This season I am considering the fox blanket in the picture below. We are hoping to use all the blankets as throws in our house, if I ever have one! Below you will see a picture of me and my teammate Gamova modeling some of the coats on display.
Before you know it Christmas was here!! This is always a tough time to be away from family. For me I always remember the many traditions I have with my family. This year we were fortunate enough to get to spend Christmas with the Priddy's. For those of you who don't know who the Priddy's are, Reid Priddy is an outside hitter with the US National team and was a member of the 2008 gold medal Olympic team. He is playing for the Kazan men's team and has brought along some of his family including his wife Lindsey, son Caden and his sister Dylan. Lindsey is a great host and made a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner. We had a small gift exchange but the most enjoyment came from watching Caden open his gifts. A special thank you to Reid and his family for making this Christmas memorable.
Christmas came and went and we were back to work. Next up was the Russian cup. The Russian cup is mid season tournament with the winning team qualifying for Champions league the following year. We were fortunate enough to win the cup last season and we wanted to try and bring it back to Kazan. Our semi-final match was against Krasnodar a very good team that includes my friend and teammate Foluke Akinradewo. We battled it out and there were some close sets but we came out on top. We couldn't relax because the next day was going to be a tough match. In the final we were to face Dinamo Moscow who is traditionally one of the best teams in the Russian SuperLeague. They pushed us and we had no answer. We took them to four but had a chance to win 2 other sets with game points in both. We made critical mistakes at the wrong time and it cost us the match. This was very disappointing for us and the club. There is no time to dwell as we still have over half the season left.
After we finished the Russian cup it was time to celebrate the New Year. For those of you that don't know New Years in Russia is like our Christmas in the States. Everything shuts down and it's their time to celebrate with family and friends. Lucky for me Foluke got to come to Kazan and celebrate with us. We went over to the Priddy's for dinner and hung out and played ping pong till it was time to ring in the New Year. We celebrated with champagne and sparklers (inside the apartment!). The next morning we returned to their apartment. My husband’s family has a New Year ’s Day tradition of making a pastry they call grebble so we carried on that tradition in Russia.
After spending a couple of days with us it was time for Foluke to return to her team. It was great getting to spend time with her. After she left we had to travel to a team in northern Siberia near the Arctic Ocean. They said normal temperatures reach as low as -50 Celsius. Fortunately it wasn't that cold outside. They did have some neat life sized ice sculptures outside their gym.
Every year our team treats us to a day of snow tubing at a local ski resort. We go tubing in the morning and then enjoy a nice lunch. Most girls bring their families as we get to swim and use the sauna at the resort. It is a great time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. This has been an eventful couple of weeks. I have truly enjoyed spending time with friends and celebrating the holidays. I hope everyone has a wonderful 2012, this year should be exciting.
Dream Big & Never Settle