Catching Up With Emily Brown
Feb. 4, 2009
Since graduating from The University of Kansas in May 2008, four year volleyball standout Emily Brown has remained active in the volleyball circuit and recently signed on to play professionally in Slovakia. KUAthletics.com caught up with Emily to find out what her international experience has been like so far.
What is the name of your team? How long is your contract for?
Emily: I play for Doprastav Volejbal Klub out or Bratislava, Slovakia. The season started in August, but I will finish out the season until it ends in May.
What was the tryout process like?
EB: I heard about a volleyball agency called Bring It USA (www.bringitusa.com). The agency offers “exposure tours” where it brings a big group of girls on a 10 day tour of central Europe to play/train with local teams as a sort of tryout in hopes of being signed by a team. Outside coaches come and watch as well, so it’s a great chance to get seen and therefore picked up on a team. They offer these tours twice a year, once at the beginning of the season (August) and once in the middle (January).
I went on the January tour and arrived on Jan. 8 with 41 other girls after a nine hour overnight flight. After we finally got a bus to our hotel, we had a couple hours to get settled in before we met down the street to go to our first match! My roommates and I decided to take advantage of the free time and took a nap!
When we got to the gym, we were split into four teams. My team played a local team but we lost. It was the first time any of us Americans had met, let alone played together! We gathered for dinner after the match at a local goulash joint, enjoyed the local cuisine and headed home to bed because we had a big morning practice session.
We had a two hour session of normal volleyball drills just to get people acquainted with each other and the new “international” ball. After two hours, a coach came down on the court and set up a drill just for me. He picked out a couple girls to help with it while the other 35 girls stood on the side and watched… talk about being put on the spot! After another 10-15 minutes of a solo drill, he took me in the bleachers and asked if I wanted to take a ride through the Alps with him to meet his team and continue my tryout (in English!). Of course I said yes. I had no idea what I was doing, but about 18 hours after arriving in Europe I was already shipped to a team! I practiced with them that night and signed the next day!
What is a typical week like? Do you travel to other countries to play?
Emily: A typical week goes like this:
Mondays- One practice in the afternoon for about an hour
Tuesdays- Morning practice followed by weights (6 exercises, 3×10 light weight), quite different! Then an afternoon practice followed by “regeneration” which consists of my choice of hot tub, sauna, pool or a massage!
Wednesday- Morning practice and afternoon practice
Thursdays- Morning weights and afternoon practice with regeneration
Fridays- One or two practices depending on travel itineraries
We play in a couple different leagues at the same time. Sometimes we have games on Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes we’ll play Wednesday and Friday. It just depends.
Since I joined this team, I’ve been outside of Slovakia through Austria, Hungary and to Croatia twice. One was a 10 hour bus ride!
What do you do in your spare time?
EB: I have a lot of free time! When I was at KU, we’d have practice and weights for a few hours a day. When I wasn’t doing volleyball stuff, I would be in class, studying, etc. Here my only obligation is volleyball. So aside from the three to five hours a day spent in the gym, I don’t have much else to do! I find myself on my computer a lot, trying to find American TV online, communicating with friends and family back home, which is kind of hard due to the seven hour time difference.
What are some of the major differences you have noticed about playing in a foreign country?
Volleyball is a lot different over here than it is back home. At universities, you play four years with girls around your age and go to school when you’re not in the gym. Not so much the case here! My team consists of 10 girls, all but me and another girl are local Slovakians (the other is from Polland). Of the 10 girls, only five are in school. They attend local colleges, that have no affiliation with volleyball. One girl is 17 years old and one is 29. Everyone else is in between, mainly age 20-24 range.
To find out more information about Bring It USA and Emily’s experience in Slovakia, visit www.bringitusa.com.