USA Volleyball national-team member Kelsey Robinson, like many other top American women, has left home to play professionally. Robinson, who wrote previously about the national team for VolleyballMag.com, is in Istanbul, Turkey. She recapped a busy summer:
The US women’s national team left the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Japan this summer with both disappointment and excitement.
We had our sights set on gold, but came up short in a grueling round-robin tournament. The team headed home with bronze after battling a tough Brazilian team in the final match. As disappointing as it is to not finish where we wanted to be, it was a risk we took knowing that this summer was one to give many veterans rest and to bring new faces into the gym.
What’s exciting is the summers to come. We faced adversity, we fought through obstacles, and we still remained USA strong throughout the tournament. There is so much to build on and many players are looking forward to getting after it from the start next summer.
Kim Hill described how she felt post-Grand Champions:
“The result was obviously disappointing, but we had some really great moments, which hopefully were a glimpse of what’s to come for USA over the next three years. We have a lot to work on, but we’re excited about the future.”
All players will now be heading overseas to their pro teams to play in different countries, such as Italy, Turkey, and Germany. The seasons typically run from October to mid-to-late April. Not only will players compete for their pro teams’ league, but also some will be participating in the prestigious Champions League.
This gives players an opportunity to compete at a high level and prepare themselves for the next USA season. Players can work on individual skills and play against some of the best in the world. While it’s not always glamorous to live and travel for eight months out of the year, it provides a chance to see the world while playing the sport we love.
Another of my teammates, Lauren Gibbemeyer, talked about her experience overseas and what she’s looking forward to:
“As I’m heading off to my seventh season overseas, I still find myself getting excited like it’s the first time. Having the opportunity to play in a country that’s not only beautiful but but also one of the most competitive professional leagues in the world, make playing in Italy an easy decision for me.
“Some of the things I’m most looking forward to this season include meeting up with old friends that I only get to see while playing overseas, being able to play against some of the best players in the world in the Champions League, traveling to new places around Europe and hitting up the most amazing cafes/restaurants that a foodie like myself dream about! Although it will be my sixth season in Italy, I find that each year continues to present new challenges, friendships, and life lessons.
“My experiences overseas prepare me for USA volleyball by helping me become more adaptable and resilient as I am constantly stretching my comfort zone past it’s limits. I believe that my overseas experiences have helped prepare me for USA travel and being able to ‘go with the flow’ much easier. My volleyball knowledge has improved by being exposed to many different coaching styles and players outside of the USA volleyball world, which has allowed me to become more creative in my game.”
I will be playing for Vakifbank in Istanbul, Turkey.
I’m beyond excited to be playing in Turkey as it will be my first time playing in the league there. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play for Vakifbank because of the level of competition and the chance to play in the Champions League.
“I love competing, but when I’m not practicing or playing, one of my favorite things to do overseas is explore. I haven’t had the chance to explore Turkey but I’m looking forward to trying all Turkish food and seeing all that it has to offer.
The tradeoff to experiencing this comes with leaving America for seven months. I absolutely love what I do, but there are times when you miss home. I focus on making the most of every day and fully embracing a new culture totally different than my own.
Also it doesn’t hurt that all my teammates have been some of the most amazing people. I can’t wait to get this season started!