Hey Badger fans,
Lauren Carlini here. I'm going to be doing a weekly update about how things are going out here as I'm training with the U.S. Women's National Team in Anaheim, California.
The summer training cycle started earlier in April, but a bunch of players joined the team in early May. I came out even later and arrived in California on May 18. I gladly left the mid 50-degree weather of Chicago and arrived in Anaheim with a pleasant 80-degree day.
Practices begin every day at 8 a.m. and this past Monday we began practice with a short video session about what we will be working on and certain areas of the game that we need to improve on. I was a little nervous before practice because everyone is older than me and has much more experience than I do. But once we started, the nerves went away and I focused on what I had to do to get better as quick as possible. Learn and adapt fast is the approach I have been taking in practice.
We do pretty much everything during practice. We start off with an upbeat warm-up, get into some serving and passing, positional tutoring - which is where all the technicalities get taken care of - then into attacking, and finally for the last hour to and hour and half, 6-on-6 games and competition.
On Mondays and Wednesdays we also help out with a group called Starlings, where kids get to come in and play volleyball. Tuesdays and Thursdays we have specified lifting times and video times (which I love!) where we see what we individually need to get better at. For example, last week was all about adjusting to the speed that the National Team is trying to run. It is extremely fast and it has never been done before so it is very challenging to get thrown right in. So, this upcoming week I'm going to be focusing in on middle attacks and keeping them fast and high with good location.
Last week was a little overwhelming, but I think it was a very good learning opportunity for me. Each day I came in wanting to get just a little bit better and it helped to focus on specific things that I needed work on, and that needed to be changed quickly. Like I said, learning to adapt in this environment is extremely valuable and I hope to keep getting better each day.
On Friday, we had an intra-squad scrimmage at Concordia University in Irvine and I played the fourth set. It was definitely not my best showing and after I was a little discouraged and disappointed, but my teammates were very helpful and understanding. They have all been there and like they said, "It's your first big-girl match, it WILL get better."
Going into the weekend, Kristen Hahn, the former Iowa State libero, and I decided to rent a car and just be adventurous! We ended up beach hopping all along the southern California coastline on Saturday and Sunday, and also finding some very good food places! My favorite place we visited was Huntington Beach. It was such a cool town and there are so many things to do.
Overall, it was a great first week and I can't wait to get back into the gym, keep working hard and being a student of the game. Only half the team will be here this upcoming week because of the Montreux Masters being held in Switzerland, but the rest of us will be training and hopefully be working on some technical parts of our game.
Thanks everyone for reading and I will let you know how everything is going in my next update! Have a great week!