Category Archives: Sports

From the Other Side of the Net

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been crazy about sports. Maybe it comes from having two brothers. Maybe it originated with my parents, who both love sports as much as I do. Wherever it came from, I caught the bug early–and I caught it bad.

I’ll gladly waste an entire Sunday on the couch watching football, you can’t pull me away from the TV once March Madness starts, and I get swept up in the frenzy of the World Cup. Cardinals baseball and the Olympics clearly have very special places in my life. I even played softball for 9 years and was convinced I would be gold medal gymnast.

But it’s volleyball that’s captured my heart and stuck with me the longest. It’s the sport I spend hours watching and playing and obsessing over. While it seemed for years that softball would be where I excelled, I found my niche in volleyball, and I’ve never looked back. And lately, it feels as though my life is starting to be consumed by it yet again.

After getting involved with a local volleyball club in January and starting to play in a few leagues of my own over the summer, it’s as if I’ve fallen in love with the sport all over. I didn’t know that was possible–I’ve played and watched and loved this game since I was in 5th grade, but having a chance to teach it is crazy exhilarating. I find myself always, always, always leaving the gym with a smile on my face and a resolve to make the next session even better.

It’s a feeling that takes me back to long days in sweaty, dusty gymnasiums. Back to two a day practices and open gyms and workouts I thought might actually kill me. Back to road trips, team building, and friendships that got me through some of the hardest years of my life.

Most importantly now, it takes me back to coaches I respected as they pushed me to be the absolute best player possible. The drills they pounded into my mind may have faded, but I’m realizing that those doesn’t actually matter. The more time I spend hitting balls from this side of the net rather than passing them myself the more I’m reminded that all those years were more than just a list of drills. The techniques and fundamentals have stuck with me, but what’s more is the encouragement, the camaraderie, and the feelings of family I felt nearly every time I stepped into the gym.

And now I have the chance to share my passion with the next generation. I have the chance to be the voice in those girls’ heads, maybe for years to come, just like the coaches of my past are still the voices in mine. Their first tournament won’t be until January, but the season officially kicked off with our first team meeting last night. It’s finally sinking in just how excited I am to be back in the gym and coaching this great group.

Last year, when I assistant coached for my first ever team, I was placed with a group of 14 year olds that I absolutely fell in love with. The girls I have now are even younger than that. At 12 but soon to be 13 year olds, they’ve got a crazy amount of potential, and I can’t wait to see how far they’ll go. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to help push them to the next level and get just as much out of their volleyball experiences as I did.

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A Love Letter to the St. Louis Cardinals

Anyone who has had a conversation with me for maybe 5 minutes knows how totally crazy I am about that little team from St. Louis. It’s easily one of the first things I mention when people want to know about me, and I tend to not be able to shut up about it for way too long afterwards.

And this time of year? Forget about it.

I can barely make it through the day without checking schedules, lineups, and scores. Of the three playoff games the Redbirds have played, I’ve been out to dinner during two of them–with my face glued to my ESPN app. While receiving text messages and phone calls about the game from no fewer than three different people. I’m a lovely dinner date, I know.

It’s a weird kind of feeling, living in a place where no one really cares about your team. Or any team, for that matter. In college, Peoria was split between St. Louis fans and both kinds of Chicago fans, so at least there was a little love. Here in Indiana, though, between the football and the basketball, I’m not sure everyone even knows what a baseball glove looks like.

But how much I love this team is hard to hide. My neighbors have to know it, based solely on how much I yell at the television. I’ve stopped trying to talk about it with coworkers. They just laugh at me and suggest maybe I should start liking a sport where something actually happens. Hilarious. (Not.) My boss was just amused when I told her I needed a day off last October to go to a last-minute playoff game.

None of these people understand what it’s like to worship a team they way I love the Cardinals. Sure, they’ve got the Colts (and I guess the Pacers, but since I hate the NBA I’m going to pretend they don’t exist…), and they’re definitely a huge deal around here. But let’s look at this logically. There are 162 games in an MLB season compared to just 16 for the NFL. And taking into consideration the fact that NFL teams always get a bye week, a Colts fan would have to watch almost 11 seasons of football to see the same number of games a Cardinals fan will see in just one. Sorry, Hoosiers, baseball wins.

It wins because those 162 games mean a lot of heartache. Ups and downs and injuries and road trips that seem to last forever when all your team needs to break its slump is just one game in front of a sold-out home crowd (they don’t call us “the best fans in baseball” for nothing, you know). Those 162 games mean you always have a reason to pay attention; you always want to sit down and watch.

Busch Stadium is, hands down, one of the best places to catch a baseball game. The atmosphere is incredible, and the seats are almost always sold out. They even mow the city’s iconic Gateway Arch into the outfield grass. I’ve seen games at U.S. Cellular Field on Chicago’s south side and AT&T Park overlooking San Francisco Bay (with plenty more on my bucket list), but none can compare to the feeling I get walking into that sea of red in the gateway to the West.

The Cardinals have the chance to win their third World Series in 7 years. They may be a long shot; everyone–that doesn’t live within a couple hours of the city, at least–may be counting them out, but they’ve pulled off miracles before. I don’t think many people will be forgetting last year’s Game 6 any time soon. And even though I’m still the farthest I’ve ever been from the STL, I’ll still be celebrating by screaming at the TV and looking at ticket prices on StubHub. A girl can dream, right?

Make me proud tomorrow, boys. Let’s win these first two in Washington and show little Bryce Harper how it’s really done in the postseason. (Seriously, that kid is younger than my baby brother. Not OK.) I’d say that I believe in you when no one else does, but we both that’s not true. The entire city is behind you, so let’s get this done.

Heaven on Earth.

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The First of Many

While this may be the first post I’m writing to tell you about one of my pet peeves, I can guarantee it won’t be the last.

I have a lot of them. It’s kind of a problem.

But! What’s been seriously bugging me in the last day or so is social media. Why does everyone feel the need to Tweet all the time?! Or share so many pictures on Facebook? What I usually love about social media–its very nature to be constant and instantaneous–is exactly what’s been turning me off. Why?

I hate to do this to you again. But it’s about the Olympics.

Social media is ruining.everything.

Every day (well, the past two days, anyway) around mid afternoon, I start getting scared to check my news feed or click that little 3 new Tweets pop-up on my Twitter stream. I get that I have to work and can’t spend the next two weeks watching nothing but the Games. But is it too much to ask that people who get to do that don’t spoil what I have to wait until 8pm to watch?

So far, a combination of Facebook, Twitter, and various news outlets have ruined 5 different medal contests for me. Men’s gymnastics, women’s gymnastics (probably the most disappointing one), a beach volleyball match, and two swimming races. I know, I know. It’s easy enough to fix. Don’t go on Facebook or Twitter until after I’ve watched that day’s events. But for a social media junkie like me, that’s almost impossible.

Why bring it up if  I know how to make it better but I refuse to do it? As my boyfriend so sweetly put it to me earlier, I’m not allowed to complain about it if I won’t do anything to change it. And he’s right. I feel the need to talk about it, though, because I’m not the only one this is affecting.

The Wall Street Journal published an article earlier today on this very topic. They interviewed people who are doing just what I can’t–abstaining from social media for the two weeks the Olympics are going on or have found ways to avoid anything that may mention the Olympics. One even closes his eyes when he opens Web pages.

That seems a little extreme to me. So what to do about it? I like following Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte on Twitter. They post awesome pictures behind the scenes of the Games. I’d just like to know about them AFTER I’ve watched their races on TV. As a former journalism major, I have a slight addiction to news that leaves me on edge if I don’t get my fix every morning. Reading the recaps of the previous day’s events is something I’m not willing to give up. Not to mention all the local and world news I would be missing out on if I stopped listening to NPR every night on my drive home. Apparently the world doesn’t stop turning when the Olympics start. Who knew?

But it’s not just the athletes and mass media who are ruining things. People I know in real life are Tweeting results and posting pictures of the athletes on the medal stand. Whyyy can’t I have your life and watch them in real time too? Why is my life so unfair?? (Sarcasm…kind of.) Do I just stop caring about wanting to see things for myself, even if it isn’t live, and hit Google every time I know a medal is being contended?

No. I will just have to suck it up and not complain (fat chance). As things keep getting spoiled, I’ll just take solace in the fact that I know I’m not alone in feeling upset with something I used to love so much. And in the fact that the love/hate relationship I currently have with social media will be back to all love once I’ve seen the Closing Ceremonies.

Ok, I’m done. I think that’s enough whining for one night. To end on a positive note…I baked something today! For the first time in what feels like absolutely ages. And it was FABULOUS. Zucchini bread from Smitten Kitchen. Go make it. You won’t be sorry.

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Olympic Obsession

I tried to hold out. I really did. No matter how hard  I tried to resist (which was secretly not very hard at all), it took less than a day for me to fall into the horrible cycle of sitting on my couch, desperately wanting to change the channel, but being unable to tear myself away.

The Olympics have officially begun. And I have fallen completely under their spell.

I blame NBC. Or I guess the IOC for how they scheduled the events. But it definitely isn’t MY fault. Two of my very favorite sports (volleyball and swimming) were scheduled on day one. How is that fair? Of course I was going to give in immediately.

I’ve already watched indoor volleyball, soccer, swimming, and beach volleyball. And archery is on later. Why does the prospect of getting to watch archery make me so freaking excited? No clue, but I seriously can’t wait. That’s the beauty of the Olympics—every single sport sounds amazing, and I will watch them. I will watch them all.

I need to go to the gym. It’s possible that I was semi-productive this morning and went to the farmer’s market, but that ended with me buying a baguette and then proceeding to eat the ENTIRE THING. On my couch, as I watched some of the best athletes in the world do their thing.

Here’s the thing though: not only are the sports themselves amazing, but the Olympics come complete with a whole new set of sports-themed, inspirational commercials. Athletes telling you how hard they worked, how they love their mom and America, and how much this means to them. I die. I can’t even get up and be productive during the commercials!

Something I could live without though? Ryan Seacrest sitting on his stupid couch interviewing athletes. Go back to American Idol, dude. I’ve seen you talk to five people and you’ve already brought up Justin Bieber. It made me hate myself. Give me my Bob Costas back.

So if you need me, you’ll know where to find me. Because it’s possible I’m not getting up for the next two weeks.

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