Monday, April 13, 2009

Playing professionally.

Vouliagmeni Nautical Club

I have come to Greece to play for a club team, just outside Athens. It is in the small town of Vouliagmeni. The picture above is standing at the club, looking out over the small bay, back at the town. "N.O.B" is the abbreviation for the club. Because I can not understand one bit of Greek, I can not tell you how that translates into Vouliagmeni Nautical Club. But I assure it does, because it is all over our gear, swimsuits, and caps. Either that, or they are REALLY making fun of the foreign kid. Because I trust most everything they tell me. Fending for myself is really hard when the letters are a completely different alphabet. I can't even TRY to sort it out.

I am sure this tells me where the gym is. Better bet is to just follow everyone else.

Luckily, most everyone here does speak English, so I can ask for a translation.
Our coach will give us a swim set in Greek and I wait until she is finished, turn to the girl who swims next to me, and quickly get the English cliff notes. I am one of the two fastest swimmers on the team. So usually I am out in front of the other girls on swim sets. I can not rely on my usual tactic of hanging back to just watch and figuring it out as I go. I learned really quick that the other fast girl is a little jokester. When I think we are doing 5 laps at a time...... I flip for my last lap, push off and look back to see everyone else stop. I pop my head up, and find my translator laughing her head off. That was the day I began auditorially memorizing the water polo terms I would need to get through practice.

Typically, foreigners are asked to come and play for teams for their National League seasons. Each team is allowed two foreign players. One from a fellow European country and one from the Americas or Oceanic/Asian region. The season lasts about 7 months, where each team will play against each other twice, at which point you are placed in post season games until there is a winner. I am not here for that. Our team already has a Spanish goalie, and they picked up my fellow American team mate, center, Moriah van Norman.

During the regular season, the top two teams from the previous years season, play in a European Cup, against the top two teams from the rest of the European professional teams. For the "Champions Cup", teams can bring in additional foreigners. Enter, ME!!!!!

I will only be in Greece for about two months. To help the team in the semi-final, and hopefully final games of the Cup!

Here is another look, from the end of the peninsula, back at the bay and the town of Vouliagmeni. Our pool (it is hard to see) sits on the left side of the bay, just beyond the docked sail boats. Very beautiful place to be playing and practicing!

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