Jayhawks in Europe: Cassie Wait

From May 18-30, Kansas volleyball is embarking on a European training trip aimed at combining cultural education with intense practices and competition. The team will play six matches, sandwiched between training sessions and travel destinations in Italy, France and Spain. The Jayhawks have graciously accepted the task of keeping their fans, family and KU volleyball supporters in the loop on what the team is up to on a daily basis. Check back each day of the trip to hear a different player’s perspective.

Day 2 – Milan, Italy 
Hopped off the plane in Milan searching for Wi-Fi like it was our job. Of course, we just wanted to let our family and friends know that we made it safe and sound (also that we were about to have the time of our lives). Thankfully, customs and baggage claim took no time at all – perks of arriving at 6 a.m.!
 The Italian Federation Volleyball Facility 
(photo courtesy of Cassie Wait)At this point we met Kiki, our ever so amazing host and guide (and professional player in France) for the next 11 days. Next, we jumped on the bus and headed to the training center for our 8 a.m. practice at the Italian Federation Facility in Milan, Italy. We got after it in practice, playing hard and adjusting to the new scenery. Oh, and the blue and yellow FIVB balls always add a nice little flare to the gym.
Nice and sweaty from practice – practically begging for showers after long days of traveling and practice – we grabbed a quick lunch that included veal, a first for many of our girls. After lunch, we followed the European tradition of using public transportation (street tram/Amtrak) to get to our hotel. Upon arriving at B&B Hotel Milano, we all took our much-needed showers and fought off the urge to nap. The seven-hour time difference really began taking its toll, but we knew it would pay off to stay awake. The next-best option, head to Piazza del Duomo Milano to shop and explore to our hearts content.
Breaking off into small groups, we were able to see the true Milan culture of high-end fashion, extraordinary architecture and gelato shops galore. Although one group may have gotten lost a time or two, we mostly be blamed it on our awe of the city and our failed attempts at using “ltanglish” to get directions, the three hours of adventuring flew by. It was a group consensus that the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) was a must-see and indescribably wondrous structure. After our afternoon of exploring, we met up at Calafuria Unione for a nice dinner with lasagna and indulged in rich desserts true to the Italian way.
 Head coach Ray Bechard, Tori 
Miller and Kelsie Payne grin on
the crowded street tram.
(Photo courtesy of Jim Marchiony)Finally, I thought I would finish today’s blog with some tips we learned today about both life and international volleyball. First, “grazie” is the Italian word for please, and no Todd (Chamberlain), it is not “Yahtzee”. Second, people on mopeds do not care if you have the right-of-way to cross the street, you must get out of the way. That 12-person moped crew is not stopping for you.

Lastly, we learned about the life of a professional volleyball player and how playing overseas is becoming an increasingly incredible opportunity for many American college players. lt is encouraging to see the game we love connect us to females across an ocean and the chance that any of us could, one day in the near future, be competing in this entire new world of volleyball this trip has opened our eyes to.

 Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony, the volleyball senior administrator on the trip, added that the Jayhawks will go on an outing to beautiful Lake Como on Wednesday before its 6 p.m. match against Italy’s B-team National Team. That team beat the University of Hawaii on Tuesday, 4-0.

Coming up on day three: Kelsie Payne