Dec. 11, 2009
MADISON, Wis. - Former Badger All-American Sherisa Livingston is currently playing professionally in Athens, Greece. The 6-2 Livingston, who switched from middle blocker to right-side during the 2006-07 season when she was playing in Italy, is playing with her dream team of Panellinios GS.
Panellinios VC (in Greek: ΠΑΝΕΛΛΗΝΙΟΣ ΓΣ) is an athletic club founded in 1891, making it one of the oldest sports clubs in Europe. Panellinios competes in the A1 Ethniki, often referred to as the Greek Volleyball League, the highest professional league in Greece.
Livingston, who is the only two-time first-team All-American for the Badgers, has played professionally overseas since 2002. She has played in Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Spain, Italy and Turkey.
Who are some of your teammates?
There are 12 women on the team ranging from ages 17 to 38. The foreign players are three including myself. Åsa Gustavsson, an outside hitter from Sweden who played at the University of North Carolina, and Julia Naumova, a middle blocker from Russia, are the other two.
How is your team doing?
Right now our team is doing pretty well. We are in fourth position by one point and have three matches left until our Christmas break.
When is your season and who do you play against in your league?
The season lasts from the beginning of October until playoffs in April. The A1 league features 12 teams - Olympiakos, Juventus, GP Kearateas, Pan, GA Iraklis, GSK Iraklis Kifisias, AO Markopoyloy, EA Larisa, Saak Anatolia, Ofa Apollonios and Aris.
Where do you live?
I live about a seven-minute walk from our gym in the neighborhood of Kypseli.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to partake in a famous European pastime - going out for coffee. Even though I don't drink coffee, when we go (I have hot chocolate) I still have fun. If we have a night off on the weekends, we go out dancing. Sometimes I go out for dinner with Asa. Every now and then we try to go and eat at different places so that we can try new things.
How do you handle the language barrier?
Honestly, there really is no language barrier. Everyone on the team speaks English and so does the coaching staff. That doesn't mean we don't have miscommunication but that's normal anyway! The coach says everything in Greek first and then one of the girls translates for me and Asa. Julia is learning Greek so she can live here with her family.
How long have you been playing on the right side?
I made the decision to change to the right side during the 2006-07 season in Italy. I got so much experience in practice as I was on the second team behind the other opposite. For me, this was great. I got to learn the position very well without being expected to perform right away. It took a lot of work and still takes some patience but I really enjoy the new position especially playing back row!
How is the food, culture and lifestyle?
I haven't had too much traditional Greek food but what I have had was very, very good. As for the culture, like any culture it has its positives and negatives. I really enjoy how laid back everything is here. Sometimes in day-to-day life you get so caught up that you forget to take a breather and being in Greece has definitely made me see that sometimes I should just relax.
How do you like playing in Greece?
I am really enjoying playing in Greece especially for Panellinios. It has always been a goal of mine to play in Greece and I have finally gotten around to doing it. I enjoy playing here the most because there is always something to do. Our club has not only the women's volleyball team but a men's volleyball team and men's basketball and handball team in the first division.
The best part is that all the teams are home and away at the same time so we get to see each other's matches and interact often. Another plus of being in Greece this year is that eight of the 12 women's teams in A1 are in or near Athens, which cuts down considerably on travel and wear and tear on the body. The other four teams are in Thessaloniki (in northeastern Greece), which is an eight-hour bus ride away and Larisa (between Athens and Thessaloniki), which is six hours away.
Any unusual experiences?
So far, there haven't been too many things out of the norm that I can think of here in Greece but the season is young yet!
Anything else to add?
The only thing I would like to say is to the fans of Badger Volleyball. I wish that we had fans as dedicated and die hard as the Badger fans. Our gym is an awesome gym for volleyball and if the fans here were anything like the fans for UW, they would pack the gym every match. Don't get me wrong we get some fans, but there is nothing like the fans in the Field House. NOTHING!