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July 13, 2005

Colorado Springs, Colo. –
We’re back in America! I am so happy to be back in the States. Playing in Asia for three weeks was fun, but I was ready to come back to the US. We’re home a little early, because we didn’t make it to the finals that were to be held in Japan next week. We were scheduled to come back on July 21st, just in case we did make it to the finals, but since they only took the top six teams (we were No. 8), we came back early.

The last and final leg of the Grand Prix tournament was in Thailand, and the teams that were with us in this leg were, Japan, Thailand and Poland. We thought that we would come in first or second in this leg, because the teams weren’t as strong. Even though Japan was the favorite in the last leg in Korea, we beat them in four sets, which is really good. Since they were in the leg with us in Thailand as well, we thought we could beat them. Well, we soon learned not to ever underestimate your opponent. We ended up coming in third in this leg of the tournament, so that sent us packing because we didn’t make the finals.

After the games were over, our coach, Jenny Lang Ping gave us a little speech. It was mainly for the three college players Kristin Richards (Stanford), Jane Collymore (Florida), and me. She told us that she had enjoyed working with us, and she hopes that we take this experience and use it for the rest of our collegiate careers. She hopes that we can do it again next year, and the years to come, and hopefully try for the 2008 Olympics. She gave us each tips that we needed to work on as far as skill and technique go. It was a phenomenal speech, and I’m glad that I was able to be coached by one of the best this summer.

Our flights and layovers were about the same as when we were going to Asia, long and tiring. We flew from Thailand to Tokyo, to LA, to Colorado. It took us a total of 37 hours to get back to the States. When we got to LA, one of my former teammates at the Pan American Games in Dominican, Cynthia Barboza, came and picked a couple of us up from the airport and took us to lunch, then to the Manhattan Beach. That definitely helped the layover go by faster. I didn’t realize that it was time to go back when the time came. I didn’t want to leave the beach.

Jet lag sure enough kicked in when we got back to the Training Center in Colorado. I didn’t end up falling asleep until 5 a.m., but I was able to sleep in the next day, because we’re finished now, and there is no more training.

Most of the girls left the next morning really early, so we had to say our goodbyes to each other. As much as I am ready to come home, I didn’t want to leave any of the girls. They are so nice and full of advice since most of them have been through the whole college process. It was sad saying goodbye, but it had to come, and we’ll see each other next summer.

This experience by far is the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to train and play with the girls of the USA National Team, and I was a part of it for three months. The things that I’ve learned both on and off the court will carry me through my volleyball career and life.

Being here and doing this is like being from another world, surrounded by people that train just as hard and just as long as you. It becomes part of your life, and daily routine. Your body gets used to the long training sessions, the blood, sweat, and tears. Even though part of me wanted to go home after the first three weeks, I am glad that I stuck it out. I’m sure there were lots of Division I outside hitters, that wanted to be in the spot that me and the other two college outside hitters were in, so I didn’t take it for granted.

I have met some amazing people, visited different countries, tried different things, grew up and became a student of the game. Not to mention, I had a really short birthday in the middle of this whole process. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world!

Hopefully, it will happen again next summer, but for now it’s back home then to Gamecock Volleyball. It’s been a blast sharing my journal with everyone, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. Enjoy the rest of the summer, I know I will.

Go Cocks!