I wrote this piece to shed a little light on what it is really like for an athlete to be on the road.
It is not what most people think and maybe one day I will have the courage to share more.
Traveling to Europe to train and play volleyball for three weeks does not mean shopping at the Grand Bazaar in the heart of Istanbul. It does not mean taking a train around Italy admiring the architecture.
It does mean high-level training and strong competition. it does mean opportunity to grow personally and as a team. It is a business trip.
We may or may not get to experience a bit of the culture and what the country has to offer. But, expectations are usually pretty low. Our sights are set on working hard and accomplishing goals.
Some time during the last three weeks on the road together, my team and I still found the little moments to enjoy each other and this life we are blessed with.
The last twenty days on the road were eye-opening for myself and maybe others on my team can relate. It was very exciting, then it became routine. It was new, then it got old. It was inspiring, and then it was dreary.
It was full of highs and lows.
I often wish a camera crew would follow us around to document the day-to-day life. The pictures we share on Instagram/Facebook shed light on about 6% of our time on the road. The other 94% is spent playing, practicing, strength training, scouting, watching video, meetings, eating together as a team, sleeping and just keeping it together mentally, emotionally and physically.
It is a grind.
Somewhere around day 10-13 of our trip to Turkey and Italy, some of us lost it a bit. Whether it was feelings of homesickness (I swear this never goes away for me), missing significant others, anxiety, or dwelling on performance — many of us felt in need of a break. Just a minute of alone time. Just one day to not be on a schedule.
This lifestyle is unlike anything else I will experience in my life. I stepped away from the sport a couple times before and it is nearly impossible to replicate this environment.
Living in a hotel with your teammates and coaches for three weeks straight. Eating every meal on schedule with one another. Wearing the same matching attire every day. Sweating together in the gym. Sleeping five centimetres away from each other in the euro-style hotel beds. Being on call for the next impromptu meeting. Laughing together, until we cry. Crying together, until we are laughing at all the tears. The time together is A LOT.
It is easy to feel that it is too much, but one day I know I will miss these times.
One day I will miss the little moments we have with each other between practices. Whether it is a coffee run or nap — we do it TOGETHER. I will miss the adrenaline rush of a surprise free day and the chance to explore a foreign country. I will miss the late night gelato runs to soften our emotions, TOGETHER. I will miss the bus rides to and from the gym. I will miss accomplishing goals with a group of like-minded women. I will miss seeing fifteen different and very beautiful faces every morning, whether I want to or not.
One day I am not going to have this.
I have a teammate to turn to for a cry. I have a teammate who I can go to when I am in need of a laugh. I have a teammate who is guaranteed to bring the pump-up tunes. I have a teammate who inspires. I have a teammate who offers logical/practical advice. I have a teammate who is young and reminds me why I play. I have a teammate who is compassionate. I have a teammate who will tickle my arm or hold my hand. I have a teammate who is not scared to give a compliment. I have a teammate who is corky. I have a teammate who is selfless. I have a teammate who I look up to (literally and figuratively).
I have a teammate for each and every situation this life has to offer.
I never had a sister growing up, but I imagine that this was God’s plan for my life. To give me a team of sisters. To allow me to share my life with beautiful women who motivate, empower and challenge each other in ways I never knew possible. To give me a family that I do not HAVE TO love because of blood, but I GET TO love because we go to battle for and with each other every single day.
It is a really neat experience that sometimes gets lost in the hours of video/scouting, the seemingly endless running, the practices with no end in sight, or the monotonous routine.
When I went through my camera roll today I was reminded of the little glimpses of our life outside the gym. I was reminded of why I sweat A LOT and sometimes cry. I was reminded of what this experience is all about. I was reminded how much I love these women, the memories and of course, the pizza.
I love you all.
Author: Megan Cyr
Born and raised in Canada. College educated in America. Currently residing wherever volleyball takes me.