Sunday, August 23, 2009

Getting Ready to Leave

With about five days to get everything together and pack, it is very fortunate that I do not own much and do not need much to live.  A rolling bag full of cloths, my guitar, and a bookbag with my computer, iPod, external hardrive full of movies, and other electronics; was all that I planned on taking with me on the 9 hour flight.  Before going to Europe there are a few things you must get.  Luckily my college team at Stevens had traveled to Germany for a training trip my junior year, so I was a little familiar with what to bring.  The biggest thing is a power converter.  European power sockets run at a higher voltage than American power sockets.  Therefore, in order to plug in most American electronics, you must buy a voltage converter and an adaptor for the plug itself.  I bought two, one that can handle my laptop rated at about 300 Watts and then another 50 Watt adaptor for smaller things.  You can get the 50 Watt adapters at best buy, radio shack, etc.  The one for my computer I had to order online.  The other thing you need in order to receive payment is a signed transfer paper from the FIVB.  You can print one out online, fill it out, and then send it to USAV in order for them to sign it.  Then they will send it on to the club so that you can be permitted to play; well transfer from "federation to federation" to work.  The fee for this is 500 dollars (I don't know why it is so expensive), but the club will usually pay this.

I fly out on Wednesday at 6:10pm from JFK.  Somehow I found a flight, one way, for 405 dollars.  I am hopeing the plane is not held together by duct tape.  Most of the flights I found out of BWI, Dulles, and other airports closer to me were about 1,200 one way.  I do not know if I was lucky in finding this flight or if I am going to regret being cheap once aboard.  I fly into Brussels, Belgium and have to wait there for an hour, and then fly into Stuttgart where I will be picked up.  By that time I will probably be very tired because I am sure I will not get any sleep on the plane.  I will post pictures and topic on my room and first day there in a couple days.  Hopefully everything will work out.

All I am Bringing (Large Rolling Bag, Book Bag, Guitar)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I am Playing Volleyball for a Living...

So before I get into the trip details and what I am doing to prepare for the trip I thought I would tell the story of how I got into this situation in the first place. I think this may serve as a good guide for D3 players out there who may want to play overseas.

Throughout college I constantly heard of the D1 and very few D3 players who were playing overseas professionally. I thought to myself "that is pretty cool, but I doubt I am going to be able to make any sort of money over there playing". I always contemplated maybe trying to go over and play second division, but for a while I was just set on getting a real job; you know what normal people do. About halfway through my senior year of volleyball, my coach approached me and gave me a new found confidence. He continued to push me to pursue playing overseas, maybe get some tapes out, and maybe even try out for the US team when that roles around. Again I though; "I am a D3 player and a 6'6'' middle, I do not want to embarrass myself by trying out for these first division teams over in Europe or especially the US team".

The Molten championships rolled around and Stevens lost to Juniata. All of a sudden my volleyball career was over. One of the dads of a player on our team told me, "you know, this is the last time you will be on a team with this sort of competitive atmosphere. Sure there is nationals every year, but that is more of a big party than an actual competition. You should really consider playing overseas". Just like that I was back to thinking about playing again.

After a long summer of job hunting and little success, I finally decided to start actively pursuing a career overseas. I was contacted by the number one first division team in Switzerland and a good first division team from Germany. With no agent, and not enough money to pay the 3000 dollars to go on the "Exposure Tour", I had just sent a 3 minute long highlight tape using simple game footage and windows movie maker. The Swiss team gave me a great offer, but I froze and hesitated on making a decision. It was hard for me to leave all my friends and family behind to go live by myself in a place where I did not speak the language. I went back to Stevens to coach a camp for a week, and while I was there I hung out with the manager of the German team (Ironically he was there visiting) I was in contact with. Unfortunately he had already signed someone in my place because I was not able to provide him with enough game footage for him to make a decision. (Players interested in doing this; send game footage and not just a highlight video) While I was at Stevens he still wanted me to tryout so that he could maybe give me an offer for the next season. Fortunately he liked what he saw, and was very eager to give me a contract for the next season after I played with the Swiss team.

Now for the troubles. After talking with the German guys who had come to the Stevens camp to help coach, I had gained a new want to go and play again. They kind of let me know that even being a little below average for a middle I would still have a lot of success in Europe. Right away I emailed the Swiss coach about my interest, but unfortunately while I was away they signed with another player. All of a sudden I was stuck again with no offers.

I returned home and told the German coaches all about it. A few weeks later the German manager emailed me letting me know that he could not have me giving up on playing over there. He wanted to keep me in the system so that I could play for his team under contract in 2010/2011. Therefore, he gave me an option to come train, and maybe play with his team this year. The one catch was that I would not be making very much money. I would still get housing, food, and most expenses covered; but in the end it would still cost me some money instead of earn me some money.

Long story short, I took the offer and so now I am headed to Rottenburg Germany to train/play for their first division team for 7/8 months. Again I think this can serve as a pretty good overview of some things to think about if you are hesitant about playing overseas. hopefully as I get over there and am able to write about my time actually playing in Germany, the picture will become more clear of what the experience can be like.