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Willkomen to Aachen, Deutschland


Spin the globe around a couple times, land on 50.7753° N, 6.0839° E and you’ve got my new hometown location. Germany here I am! The land of luxury cars, XXL beers, endless pretzels and a lone American curiously wondering with a smile on her face and kinisio tape at the ready. I arrived in Aachen, Germany on August 15 after a plane ride from SFO to Iceland to Amsterdam to a drive across the border into nearly Belgium, Germany. It feels pretty damn good being back on this side of the globe playing top league in German town. A goal I've had for some time and can't help but smile that I'm actually living out a dream job. But getting here wasn't as easy as it may sound...

Prequel: For the 6 months that I was home after the Philippines, I was given the opportunity to work at Lululemon: a powerful corporation that pushes possibilities, encourages self leadership, and celebrates entrepreneurism. There I reflected on my skills as a leader and updated my mantra with my new set of experiences overseas.


I quickly adopted a handful of Lulu's values and dove into their platforms about Self Growth. I wanted to grow in many facets: as a person, as an athlete, as a mentor, as a friend. These past years have been a journey of enlightenment, but I was yearning for a heavy challenge.

"So, what do your goals look like?"


After college I was dying for an adventure; yet I still had that little bug to keep playing. Luckily I was given the perfect love child of both those wants. The lifestyle I had in Switzerland and the Philippines presented the opportunity to add on to my singular identity as an athlete. I had time to get lost in my own meandering thoughts and paid attention to the mantras that connected to my soul. Funny to think that at one point I wanted to play for one season and check it off the list. Now it's turned into a career of gratitude and self discovery. It made me fall in love with, well me.

With a fresh new perspective of balance and happiness, I was ready to set some new goals…bigger goals. Those two years were a valuable part in my mindset. I mean, how many people can say they’ve swam with 20 foot long whale sharks in Boracay, PI or sled down the steepest Swiss alps below the actual Matterhorn mountain?? But I was starting to get too comfortable. Oddly enough I missed the tough times, and I was ready to get back into a situation that would put me in my place and push my potential. I wanted my focus and my goals to be tested again. I missed getting pushed as a player and dealing with situations that would ultimately build my character. I was ready to get back into improving my athletic career. My back is feeling good, I'm jumping even higher than I was in college, and though this 25 year old bod is not quite recovering as quickly as it used to, I'm ready to push it once again and get back in the game of high level play. So I decided that my new goal was to officially play a third professional season overseas in Europe.

The Grind:

Looking back at the months leading up to this, I was living proof that this life isn't always as glorious as it may seem. For months it looked like I just wasn’t going to reach my goal. I played in Switzerland thanks to Jac Heller, an amazing family friend who recommended my name and provided my mom ultimate peace of mind. I was then able to play in the Philippines by getting in contact with my friend Iris Tolenda, who later referred me to the Philips Gold manager. Going two for two without an agent, I was hoping to extend it into a hat trick. But this time it wasn't so simple. No, this time I started to realize that the market was getting tighter, especially for setters, and the networking that had been so clutch for me in the past, just might not come through this time around.

I couldn't give up hope. So every morning I'd start my day on the computer, formulating highlight tapes and drafting emails to coaches/ team managers/ team owners, even league administrators. I had a mini glimpse of hope when I received an offer to play in Spain, but was sidelined by a player who just finished her season with the same club, urging me to go a different direction due to the hardships she and many other players experienced.


And thank goodness she did.


The thing about pro players, is that we look out for each other. Kimika Rozier started to send out messages to her contacts throughout Europe about me, and I did the same for her. It was exciting to know that my name was getting out there. But slowly teams were getting back to me only to share news that they had either resigned their setter, or that their roster was already complete.

Kimi and I continued to keep in touch and share updates with what was going on in the volley world overseas. The good news and the bad. It was a tough time; here I was sitting with my notebook in hand holding all the information you could find for every club in the league.


I wrote down information of the head coach, the assistant coach, the manager’s email, the town of the club, the place the team finished last season, the current American players on the team on top of those players' information. I did this for every single club in the league of Four. Separate. Countries! Madness. I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything in my power to find a team to play on. That way, if the ending to my story wasn't one that I had so strongly hoped for, I at least new that I gave all that was possibly in me to reach my goal.

When I felt like I was starting to hit a brick wall of dead ends, Kimi gave me the contact information for an agent, named Philippe Andre who had some top notch reviews by other players in Europe.


So I gave him a call; and after a two hour free flowing conversation, I was able to hang up with a big smile on my face. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like my luck was changing.


I didn't feel like I was talking business with an agent the way my other conversations have gone with some agencies. It was comforting to feel like he truly wanted to get an idea of who I was and what I was looking for.



A couple months later I woke up to a message from Lauren Bertolocci, one of my good Swiss friends notifying that she had spoken with a German coach who was looking for a setter for their upcoming season.

And beneath that was a another message from Fil saying the German team wants me. After a couple positive conversations with head coach Saskia van Hintum in which showed our philosophies to truly mirror each other, I got the green light from Fil. I think the message from him topped off to be the best news I had received in all of 2016.

My journey filled with constant setbacks, multiple "I'm sorry to inform you"s, the "maybe I'm just not going to reach this goal," was finally put to rest. And all of that hard work mixed with help from others, put me in the Bundesliga. Here I am today, now captain of a team of girls whom I respect fiercly, competing in the top league in Germany for Women's professional volleyball.

My Own Italian Job Mini


It’s the same process with every season. When you first arrive you are exhausted, yet so thankful to have made it to your respective country. Though you really would love to express your gratitude and meet each person that's taken time out of their day to greet your new homecoming, the only thing your body actually wants to do is crawl up into a bed and sleep.

And I mean long sleep.

A long, deep, rem cycle, mini coma, type of sleep.


After landing in Amsterdam, we had a two hour drive ahead of us with a stop at the club's office to meet the CEO and club staff. So your 24 hour travel day still continues with a couple hours of shaking hands, tiresome yet grateful smiles and endless self talks of “you’re almost there, you’re almost to a bed, you’re almost to your new home, the mini coma will come soon."

After ending our last meeting with the club staff, it was finally time to go see the new home and rest. As we walked outside we were greeted by a mini cooper parked in front of us. Guido laid a set of BMW Mini Cooper keys in my hands…

”This belongs to you. Have fun.”


A phrase that was so perfectly delivered. a phrase that deserves an excited face mirroring a 16 year old receiving a car for the first time on Christmas. I mean what more could a girl want. IT'S A MINI COOPER. Capable of 0 to 60 in less than 6 seconds, 189 horsepower with a 2.0 liter turbo four- cylinder and a whopping six speed. At least that's what the manual says. Not to mention a star role in one of my teenage year all time favorite action film, "The Italian Job."


Guido unfortunately got a rather different reaction. He quickly caught on to the quivering forced smile of fake confidence across my face. “Um, do you know how to drive a sti-? 'Nope.' "Nope." - he repeated with a nervous chuckle. "Not even kind of." - I said with a face showing that I wish I was kidding. It was a long day for the both of us. I'm sure Guido was just as excited to end the day and hit his pillow as I was. But the moment he saw my face in a dead stare at the keys to an automatic car, we both knew that our pillows were gunna have to wait. We had one more task to get done, and it was not going to happen quickly.

"Okay, new plan, first driving class starts now."


It surprisingly went rather smoothly! I mean don’t get me wrong I must’ve stalled out about 5 different times in the parking lot alone, but after getting a good feel for mini, I was able to get us all the way to the apartment!


For about the first month of driving, I thought that you had to keep your left foot on the clutch even while you were just cruising in the gear, not just when you change gears.

And fun fact: if you do happen to keep your foot held slightly down on the clutch, you start to lose circulation in your foot and your toes go numb. All circulation, gone.

It wasn’t until I was driving with my teammate Kirsten to Amsterdam and I told her that I could never buy a manual car because I just don’t have the blood flow/circulation for it...then she exposed me.

“Um, you know you’re not supposed to keep your foot on the clutch.”

Dumb moments. Ever since she dropped that rather common sense, but to me mind blowing, knowledge, driving mini has been a breeze!


My heart still lies with Thomas and he will forever be my boy, but let me tell you, mini is a treat!! She goes so damn fast and there’s tons to do between switching gears to the left right left right tap dance on the clutch- gasp- break- dip dip 🎧 (yay area shoutout) to the windshield wipers that I haven’t quite nailed down, but there's a couple buttons that I still have yet to explore so that’s a work in progress.


Overall I give myself an 8 depending on the day. The stall outs have decreased immensely, although the other day I did experience something called tooth- brushing which I keep calling paint brushing but to be honest even the actual name doesn’t make sense so I think the dictionary term is still up for grabs. Basically it’s when you switch from one gear to another and the gears rub against each other creating a rather less than pleasant screeching sound under your car...It sounds like you've put your transmission through a blender. Highly. Don’t. Recommend.

Exploring Berlin

Playing in Germany has its serious benefits for reasons even better than volleyball.

Exhibit A: Megan McConnell.

We go back all the way to when we were 16 year old little sticks. Repping Vision Volleyall kicking ass in the club volleyball days. The glory days. The majority of us from those days were able to stay in touch, especially since we were all playing in the same college conference. But what are the chances that ten years later we both end up living thousands of miles away across the Atlantic ocean, yet landing in the same country!?? Small. The chances of this happening, are small to answer the question. Megs had transferred to Berlin a couple months back for work, so she already knew the lay of the Berlin land. Since I came in during the early preseason, we were gifted with a couple weekends off. So, naturally I was quick to get on a train and reunite with one of my dearest friends.

The first night we reminisced over the best Döner I have ever tasted at this hole in a wall type of sanctuary. The laughter about timeless memories continued later over a Berlin delicacy meal of currywurst (not my favorite but Megs gave me the disclaimer that it's a must in Germany.


So now I can check that off the list aand never do it again✔️)


Megan showed me around four different neighborhoods: Charlottenburg, Friedrichshain, Mitte and Neukolln. Each district unique in their own taste. Murals were a constant on every corner. Streets were filled with people, city noises, mixed with peaceful sounds, high paced living and comfortable lounging. Berlin had it all. Which ever way you drifted in this city, you could feel the energy.

This was the same weekend that my friend Brinkley, another Californian playing in Germany, had an away match around our area. The stars aligned perfectly! So we went to cheer on my boy in blue on the court to close out the first night. I really enjoy watching mens volley but it's even better when your friend's the one who's tearing it up the court. After the match, we decided to check out the night scene, Berlin style. The place we went to wasn't your typical underground Berlin club, but embodied more of a California dance party. Per usual we tore up the dance floor with not a care in the world. We were free and alive, two things I hope to forever have burning within me.

The next morning was a day of exploring. We visited the East side gallery that was filled with only the most beautiful and powerful pieces of artwork. The weather was a cool 70 degrees perfect for tank tops and sunglasses, an outfit that I specifically knew was about to be packed away tight in the upcoming months of Europe's brisk winter weather.

There was so much life on every street that we travelled down. And Megs was a definite local by now. It's beautiful to grow up with someone who shares the same curiosity in the world as you. But Megan, she's the brave one. She's the type of person who just dives effortlessly into a new culture. She isn't scared to try new languages, new foods, or create new normalcies. She pushes the boundaries, finds discomfort in routine and ultimately finds, better yet creates happiness. I think it's important to have someone like that in your life. To remind you that wonder and marvel is powerful. Mad love for this girl and I'm so damn happy to have kept this friendship growing as each of us evolve.

We are planning to do some continued traveling in April when I finish my season. Definitely think a trip to Madrid to meet up with our girl Brit who's also decided to pack up California and move to Euroland is on the list. Stay tuned to see where we end up!

Seeing First Hand

When we played in Berlin, we set aside some time on Sunday to visit the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate. To be standing in the same footsteps as East and West Berliners once did, nearly 60 years later left me in a state of mixed emotions. It was confusing, bone chilling, sad, and powerful. There I was looking at pictures that matched my exact surroundings, curating a sense of familiarity, but the times were so different back then from how we live today.


Overnight, the gate between East and West Germany had closed. Barbed wire and armed guards stood along the divide separating families, isolating travelers, even preventing East Berliners to go to work in the West. Weeks later, the wired fence turned into the formation of a concrete wall. While reading these stories, we tried imagining what it was like to all of sudden not be able to walk to your friend's house, go to your favorite diner, even visit Grandma and Grandpa. All because the government suddenly made a boundary in a matter of hours. WHAT!? I mean you see it, you read it, you take it in, yet it's all still so hard to believe.


We continued to read escape stories of people that went to great lengths to escape to West Germany. Some jumped out of buildings near the wall and dug tunnels beneath the divide, while others didn't even make it to the other side at all and instead were shot dead in the "Death Strip."


The divide that once birthed an 11ft. concrete wall, stretching across a 90+ mile border strip with 300 watch towers, 250+ watch guard dogs and 65 miles of anti- vehicle trenches, now sits as a memory in people's minds and story told in school books. Today, side by side lay a series of poles along the line to remind us how far our world has come. A symbol for freedom where unity conquered all. Our generation will never know what it was like to live during these times, but we are lucky for the chance to visit this historic location and get an idea of what the world incapsulated over 50 years ago.

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