Noyes Shares Her Experience as a Professional Volleyball Player
March 2, 2010
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia –
Former Kansas volleyball player Savannah Noyes (2005-08) became the most recent Jayhawk to sign a professional contract overseas. The 6-3 middle blocker plays for the Dobrastav Volejbalovy Klub in Bratislava, Slovakia. Noyes took time out of a busy travel schedule to talk with Kansas Athletics about her experience so far.
Q: Where do you compete?
SN: “We compete with bordering countries. I have been to Slovenia and Austria but we have played Crotia and Czech Republic teams in Bratislava.”
Q: How does the team travel to matches and what are your road trips like?
SN: “We hop on a bus! The first road trip that I went on with the team was pretty miserable. The team’s larger bus was “missing” so we took a 15 passenger bus. It was tiny. I was on the window seat and I couldn’t sit straight forward because my legs were too long so I had to sit sideways. The girl next to me had to put her legs in the aisle. It might not have been so bad if it was not a five hour trip. Luckily for me, a lot of Europeans are smokers, so we stopped a lot so the driver could smoke and we could get out and stretch. Our coach told us that we would be taking a short break, so I was thinking it would be about five minutes tops, but we ended up being there for 20 minutes or so. No rush whatsoever. The next bus trip was a lot better, we had a normal sized bus so I could stretch out. Another thing that is a bit different than what I am used to is that road trips are a junk food fest. They love having chocolate and other snacks and buy something at every stop. I try to avoid doing so, but occationally I give in!”
Q: Are the rules the same as volleyball rules in the US?
SN: “I think that the only rules that are different are that if the ball hits the ceiling then it’s a point for the other team, even if it hits on your side. Also, the liberos do not serve.”
Q: How do the coaches relay information to you in practice and games since you do not speak Slovak?
SN: “Actually our head coach speaks English so there is not too much of a problem.”
Q: What are the matches like?
SN: “Most of the matches have a small crowd, probably between 10 and 50 people depending on where we are playing and the importance of the match. The men’s games get a little more. Our gym has limited seating, it only holds about 200 people. We played one match, the Slovak Cup, and it was an important game and held in a larger gym- about half the size of Horeijsi, and it was filled. Fans like to bring drums and noisemakers, so it can get pretty loud!”
Q: How long does the season run? Will you come home afterwards?
SN: “The season runs from August until late April or early May, depending on how much you win towards the end of the season. Our last possible game is April 28 and that is if we win all of our upcoming matches. I came in January, which is mid-season for them, and I will be returning to the USA after the season.”
Q: As far as strength and conditioning and nutrition goes, how does the training aspect differ from your experience at KU?
SN: “Training here is a complete 180! They have very old, run-down equipment and it is the basics: leg press, bench press, squat rack and free weights. Once a week we lift at a fitness center that is small, but is nicer and has more equipment. Our coach tells us what to lift and it isn’t too strenuous. It is definitely a drastic change from KU’s weight room and strength coaches. We are on our own for nutritional needs. No dieticians or coaches advising us what to eat, but luckily I am a pretty healthy eater and a lot of what (current KU volleyball assistant) coach (Christi) Posey disapproved of still sticks with me.”
Q: Who do you live with? What is your housing like?
SN: “I live with Quincy Verdin, the other American girl on the team, in an apartment, or flat, as the Europeans call it. It has two rooms. One is a real bedroom and the other is the living room converted into a bedroom. We have a kitchen- all the basic appliances except a microwave- and a washe,r but no dryer.”
Q: Where is your roommate Quincy from?
SN: “Quincy and I are the only two Americans on our team. Quincy played at Long Beach State and came to play in Europe last August. She was actually on a team in Slovenia that went bankrupt so she tried out the same time I did. It is definitely great having her around and it is nice to know someone from America and have someone to get lost with!”
Q: What is the food like? Do you have trouble finding food you like?
SN: “The food is pretty standard. They have everything from pizza to Chinese so there is a lot to choose from. It is pretty common for them to have soup before meals and then the main dish is usually chicken or pork with either rice, potatoes or pasta and a lot of the time it is all covered in cream sauce. The traditional Slovak dish is something similar to pot stickers or pirogues. I am unsure of the filling. I thought it was similar to mashed potatoes, but it could be anything. It is served with sour cream. I am not picky at all, so I enjoy trying different things. I do my own grocery shopping and cooking. I have found almost everything I have needed, but you have to hope that it has a picture of what you are buying because otherwise you have no idea what it is!”
Q: Have you gone sightseeing or exploring? What are some of the more interesting places/things you have seen?
SN: “Quincy and I have done some exploring of the city. It is easy to get around, so on the weekends we usually try to get out. I like going to the old town and the center, which has some shopping and restaurants. There is a lot of old, beautiful architecture. I have yet to go to the castle in Bratislava, but I plan to see it. I also want to tour Vienna. It is only 40 minutes away by bus.”
Q: What shocked you the most about the culture in Slovakia?
SN: “I was expecting to be the only person who could speak English. As it turns out, I was wrong. A lot of people, especially college-aged and younger people, speak at least some English. You just have to ask to find out! Almost all of my teammates speak some English, too, and a handful speak it very well. They learn two languages in school, and English is usually the top choice.”
Q: Have you been able to keep in close contact with family and friends back home?
SN: “Yes, I am very thankful for the internet! I talk to my mom the most, probably four times a week via Skype or she calls from a phone card. I also use Facebook and email to keep in touch as well. The time change has not been too big of a problem either, except sometimes in the morning when I want to talk to someone. I know everyone is sleeping so I have to occupy myself until the USA wakes up!”