It has been a pretty "uneventful" month for me... We have been playing so many games and traveling so much it is hard to know which way is which and where the time has gone. Time flying by has been a huge blessing in that it is one step closer to seeing family and being back in the USA gym.
Since I last wrote we had qualified for the next round of Champions league. This meant we were going to draw a new team/pool and get an opportunity to play someone different. This next round of champions league would consist of one game home and away. If you win both games you move on to the next round. If you split you would have to play one "golden set" to 15 to see who would move on. We ended up drawing Dresden which is a team from Germany. Since we were the higher seed we went to Germany and played them first. When we arrived in Germany it was a nice refresher to get out of Russia for a few days and go site seeing. Since we arrived 2 days early our team arranged for us to go on a tour of a historical area of the city. We were really excited until the tour guide only spoke Russian...ugh!! I know you are probably thinking well duh you are with a bunch of Russians but I thought they would maybe do the tour in both English and Russian, but that didn't matter because just seeing the beautiful city was enough for us. After our tour we went to the local shopping mall so the girls could go crazy. It is amazing to me all the things these girls buy when we are outside of Russia. It's a real treat for them because most things they find are half the price they can find in Russia. After shopping for a couple hours and leaving empty handed it was time to go back to the hotel and prepare for the upcoming game. I had never seen this team play but knew they had a couple girls from the German national team and I knew they would put up a good fight. We played a well-rounded game and were fortunate to win in 3. After the match we had a nice relaxing evening at the hotel before heading back to Russia the next day.
After leaving Germany we were off to Ekaterinburg to play one of the other top ranked teams in the Russian league, Uralochka. We had a nice surprise waiting for us when we arrived. We would be staying at the Hyatt Regency for four days. This was so refreshing being able to stay in a five-star hotel. This was by far the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in in Russia. It was an escape to what felt like America for a short time. We played Uralochka and although they played well, we pulled the win out.
After a few short days back in Kazan it was time for Luke to go home for a while. I have been blessed in that my husband gets to travel with me. All other American national team players that are married do not travel with their significant others. For all of you that don't know Luke, he is actually a licensed structural engineer. We are currently in the process of finishing up house plans in which Luke has been doing all the work. He will be spending his time at home working out details and we hope to begin building this Spring. Luke has been putting his job on hold to follow me around the world. I am so thankful for his sacrifice so I can reach my dream. I love you!
After Luke left I have been trying to keep myself busy as I don't like to be alone. I walked into practice one morning and the director of the club pulled me aside. I was like oh gosh am I in trouble? He was informing me that a local clothing store wanted to do a photo shoot with some of us players. At first I was really confused and I thought some things got lost in translation. They told me to go to this clothing store to try on clothes for a photo shoot at a later date. I went to the clothing store and when I arrived I was so overwhelmed. It was 3 floors of high end designer clothing from the likes of Mark Jacobs and Burberry. I felt honored to be there and getting a chance to wear such beautiful clothing. I spent about an hour and half trying on clothes and after every outfit taking a picture for future reference. The photo shoot was going to be held two days later. I was nervous but excited at the same time. I arrived at the photo shoot around 12 and after 5 outfits and hair and makeup I finally left at 8. It was such a long day but a great learning experience. I have watched Americans Next Top Model and would get angry at some of the girls because they couldn't pose right... Well now I have a better understanding of how hard it really is.
As a lot of you may know I am a Mizuno ambassador and was recently contacted by Mizuno Europe to do a photo shoot in London. I did not know if I would be possible because my schedule has been so crazy. Luckily I was able to fit it in my schedule but for only one day. I left Moscow in the morning of the photo shoot and arrived in London around noon. I started the photo and video shoot around 3 and finished around 8. It was such a great experience to model for Mizuno and to promote the upcoming Olympics.