I recently came on my 10-year anniversary with the company I work for. It’s been a fun ride, especially with this company “Olympics” they put on every four years. I was at my first event in 2006, which brought me to Paris. My second turn, in 2010, led me to Budapest. This third run has been fantastic, in Zurich. I’ve gone each time to play volleyball. It’s an amazing thing to be part of. To see those familiar faces from the 2006 and 2010 events. Some whose names I know, some just the faces I remember playing or watching.
So basically this first week has been on the company – I know, rough life, right? The events kicked off Wednesday night with a team dinner. It was on a mountaintop overlooking Zurich. The food was amazing, along with the company and the views. It was a relatively low-key night, as we had practice in the morning.
Thursday’s practice went well. It was just nice to check out the facility and get my body used to the courts we’d be playing on and the equipment we’d be using. European volleyballs are very different from the ones we used in the States — they’re A LOT harder. We’ve been practicing with them before getting to Europe, but not consistently. (After a long day of playing, I have A LOT of bruises on my forearms from those balls!) Plus, the court lines are different. The dimensions are the same, but there are a lot more lines for other sports on the court, so it was…helpful. That night marked the opening ceremonies, where we saw people from all the 40+ countries competing at the event. Another night of amazing food and seeing people.
Pool play began Friday bright and early. It was a long, hard day of playing volleyball. We were fortunate enough to play at the same venue as the men’s team. It was fun be
ing able to watch them and cheer them on — and have some fans cheering us on, too. I can say that even four days later, I’m still hoarse and don’t have much of my voice. And then there’s my body. I forget how physically taxing it is to play a day’s worth of volleyball. I think it’s the playing, then resting, then playing again that makes it so tough. We played well, but clearly not enough. With our silver medal finish in Budapest, we had high aspirations to the very least take home a medal. But we played hard and had a lot of fun with some truly talented competition.
I’ll admit, I’m furious at my body right now. If you know much about my journey, you’ll know that in the past four years, I’ve lost about 100 pounds. I’m in the best shape of my life, truly, even when I was playing in college. I’ve been working and training hard for this event. Pre-game warm-ups on Friday morning went great. And then came my first hit of the tourney. It was a kill. But I landed funny. It felt like my left knee went out of joint. I tried kicking it back into place, to no avail. My teammate loaned me her knee brace, which made playing the next match bearable. During the middle of the second one, I went up for another hit. It was another kill, but this time I landed on someone’s foot, feeling a click in my other knee. SHIT. I sat out the next match, which was against the team that has taken the gold medal match for the last several events. To say I was frustrated was an understatement. Another teammate luckily had another knee brace, which I wore during the next match for the bronze medal. I played really well, despite the pain. Despite a lot of ice and rest, my knees are still in a lot of pain. At least the swelling has gone down. I’m worried I tore my meniscus in both knees. I’m hoping that no running or jumping these next few days will be all I need and that my body just needs time.
The men’s volleyball team and basketball teams both took the bronze, which meant we all were done for the day. So we drank our sorrows away that night. Dinner and drinks were on the company, so…yeah…drinking ensued.
Saturday marked the last day of the event. Since we were done playing, we took time to cheer on a few athletes who made the finals. I also got in some much-needed time by an icy cold pool and some hot sun. We then headed back to the hotel to get dolled up for the closing ceremonies. As expected, it was a fantastic night of good food, great
entertainment, and a lot of ass-shaking. It ended up being a late night, again, also as expected, which made for a very early train ride back to Munich on Sunday.
I feel so fortunate to work for the company I do. They’re really good to me, and opportunities like this…I mean, c’mon, how awesome is it? The next “Olympics” will be in Munich in 2018. I’ll be 38. I’m staying cautiously optimistic that me and my knees have one more left in me. But four years is a long ways away.