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June 8, 2005

Colorado Springs, Colo. – This summer, follow South Carolina Volleyball’s Shonda Cole as she shares her experiences of training and participating with the USA Volleyball National Team. Each week, will post a diary entry from Cole as she gives an inside look at what it is like to train at the international level.

Week of June 6, 2005

I’ve been talking to some of my Gamecock teammates lately, and the more I talk to them, the more I miss Columbia. I really miss them a lot, and I can’t wait to see them in August. One of my teammates, Andie Evans, sent me a care package the other day. That was really sweet of her. I miss my family a lot too, but I talk to them everyday which makes things a little better.

We have been training pretty light these past couple of days. We have been focusing on technique and more team related situations. We haven’t had a day off in awhile, but the training is well worth it in my opinion (even though sometimes I don’t always feel that way).

We just finished our Front Range Tour that was held in Colorado for three days. Last Thursday, our other USA team played the first match against Brazil and won in three games. Our USA team played Brazil on Saturday in Fort Collins, Colo. and they beat us in four games. We did not play as well as we should have. This was Brazil’s Junior National Team too, so we were really disappointed. We played Brazil again on Monday at our training center in Colorado Springs and beat them easily in three sets. It was nice to even the score. We were really excited about that.

After the match, we were able to sit and eat at dinner with the Brazilian team. That was a fun experience. It was funny trying to communicate with them, when we barely spoke Spanish/Portuguese and they barely spoke any English. Surprisingly, we hung out with some of them after dinner, in our dorms, and the communication got a little better between us. One of my teammates, Cynthia Barboza from Long Beach, Calif, speaks Spanish and English fluently, so she was able to mediate our conversations with them. Cynthia just graduated from high school and will play for Stanford in the fall.

Our next challenge is to prepare for the Pan American Cup in the Dominican Republic. We have been training for this for awhile, because it is a qualifying tournament, which means that we have to place first or second to make the cut. I believe we are ready as we’ll ever be. In my opinion, training this week has been good as far as teamwork goes. Even though it gets tough sometimes, I am glad that I am sticking it out, and I am able to train with some of the best in the world. This is what it is all about.

We come back from the Pan American Cup on June 19. We will then leave June 20 for the Grand Prix, which is held in China, Thailand, and Korea! I am so excited! I will get to spend my birthday, June 21, in China! That is crazy! The Grand Prix is a month long tour, but I’ve never been to any of these places before, so I’m really excited. This is such a great opportunity!

Well, that is it for now. I am going to go and rest. I miss you Columbia, S.C.!

Go Cocks!