Jan 30th 2012
Ahh back in Europe once again, where I unwillingly receive my dose of Top 40 music that will last me through the rest of the year. This time I’m in a small town in Finland where I live in my parka and Ugg boots when I’m not on the volleyball court. Believe or not, it’s still warmer than Winnipeg.
When our Olympic qualifier was rescheduled until the end of April, most of us were left scrambling to find a team to train and play with for the winter months. It’s never ideal joining up with a squad halfway through their season. Often, any team looking to hire a player at that point in the year is struggling with injuries or trying to stay afloat in their league. I was fortunate to join up with LP Viesti, a team that hasn’t lost in the Finnish league in the past 105 matches. As the strongest club team in their country they participate in the CEV Challenge Cup, meaning they play a series of matches against top ranked teams from other leagues around Europe. As a result they were looking for another leftside to help them out in their upcoming matches against Smart Allianz Stuttgart. I arrived on a Thursday, had my first practice on Friday and was thrown into my first match the following Wednesday. We played a gritty match at home and came out with the win in five sets. It was so much fun to play a high intensity game against a great team and I felt at home with the girls from LP Viesti right away. We ended up losing the series against Stuttgart but since have continued on with regular league play and just this past weekend came out on top at the Baltic Cup tournament.
This weekend was also my initiation which was a throwback to my rookie year as a UBC Thunderbird. I was forced to recite an oath (in Suomi) on my knees in the shower room while knocking back a glass of vile tasting Salmiaki (salty liquorice liqueur). It wasn’t until after when the pledge was translated that I discovered I had agreed to a karaoke competition with my club manager (among other things). And finally, a raw egg was cracked over my head (not gently either), to complete the ceremony. Needless to say this team has its character and its own traditions. And so far it’s been a lot of fun…