posted August 19, 2003

Volleyball Team Experiences Switzerland

The Hope College volleyball team traveled to Switzerland in August for the program's first international experience. Team members wrote a journal for posting on the Hope athletics website.

Final Report
Written by Anna Eriks, senior from Holland, Mich. and 2003 graduate Laura Hahnfeld of Midland, Mich.

Our last day in Switzerland was pretty much a free day in Zürich. We had our last conditioning in the morning and the rest of the day was free to do whatever we wanted around the big city. Many of us found an International Protestant Church to attend in the morning. It was a very traditional service in an amazing old building and the people were extremely welcoming and friendly. We even got to introduce ourselves in front of the whole church.

The rest of the day was spent doing a lot of last-minute shopping, sightseeing, and trying to stay cool (the temperature's back up in the 90's as we're out of the mountains again). Visiting cathedrals was a way of learning about the history of Zürich and getting out of the sun. Some of the more ambitious players decided to bear the sweat and climb the 187 steps to the top of a tower. Others chose to spend time at the beach of Lake Zürich.

The night was spent celebrating Alexis' 22nd birthday with McDonalds' sundaes, a treat that not only reminded us of home, but made us all the more excited to get there. After some time chilling at the youth hostle and packing lots of sweaty clothes, we're all ready for bed -- we have a long day of travel ahead of us. It's been an amazing trip, but we're ready to get back to the luxuries of home - ICE water, air conditioning, our own beds, Taco Bell, and our Hope fans.

Saturday, August 16
Written by Alexis Mick, 2003 Hope graduate from Roscommon, Mich.

Do you prefer French, German, Italian or English? Here in Switzerland we have had our choice as to which language we would like to speak. Last night in Zurich, at a small restaurant across from our latest hostle, we chose Italian. We are feeling a little more comfortable in Zurich than the other cities we have visited due to their belief that English should be taught before any of the other national languages in grade school. Therefore, we are better able to communicate with everyone we see!

The day started out, however, in our mountain cabin by the lake in Glarus. While a few athletes chose to run around the lake, listening to the cow bells ringing in the valleys, others chose to get a few minutes extra sleep before hauling all of our heavy luggage into the Mercedes van to make our last trip down the winding mountain. The sun was shining and everyone was anxious for our game later in the afternoon.

A few hours were spent wandering the town of Glarus, this day being bright and sunny. A visit to the market, Migros, served as lunch. It was then time to head to the gym for our most competitive game of the entire trip.

Glaronia, the National B team from Glarus, was as strong as any team we had seen so far. Their lineup consisted of a young girl from Poland, who had just arrived that day, a twenty-eight year old setter from Slovakia who had been with the team for 10 years after playing on Slovakia's national team, and a twenty-three year old middle hitter fresh from the University of San Diego Division I team, who lost in the NCAA tournament to UCLA, the national champions. Although they had an impressive list of players, we were ready for some great competition and looking forward to the match.

While we did not end up with all wins, we did have great games all the way through. Out of four games we won one, with a score of 25 to 11. The other games they took with scores of 25-18, 25-17, and 15-9. Having the opportunity to play against Division I quality was a great experience for all of us. The Glaronia coach complimented us on our ability to play defense.

We caught the train and headed here to Zurich, for our last days of the trip. The hostel is brand new as of July, and we are all looking forward to exploring this final city on our tour of Switzerland!

Friday, August 15
Written by sophomores Shawna Buche of Saranac, Mich. and Julie VanderSlice of New Era, Mich.

This morning we were pleasantly awoken by the cow bells ringing in the mountains and four old men playing their Alp horns across the lake. Alp horns are huge long instruments like in the Ricola commercial. After a breakfast of bread, jam, bologna and cheese we headed to the small town of Glarus. We walked around in the rain, which was a nice break from the hot weather.

After a couple hours of shopping we headed to Nafels for practice and conditioning at the sports complex. Seeing the mountains out the window was a nice change from practicing at the Dow and having the train go by all the time.

After practice, some girls on our team took the chairlifts up the mountain, while others stayed back to swim and relax. Girls who went up the mountain had the choice of bob sledding down the mountain, walking to a lake in the mountain or taking the chairlifts back down. We decided to walk down the mountain and it was quite the trip. Once you started down the hill there was no stopping.

After we got back from the mountain we had dinner at the sports complex and headed back to our mountain resort for a relaxing evening.

Thursday, August 14
Written by Martha Luidens, 2003 graduate and All-MIAA player from Holland, Mich.

Our morning adventure began with two and a half hours of traveling on trains from Bern to Näfels. When we began our trip we were in sweltering city heat (95 degrees); as we stepped off our last train ride we were welcomed by cool air, fresh breeze, and amazing mountains. For the first time in Europe we were experiencing cold chills!

As we made our way through the mountains, from the train station to our hotel, we were welcomed by cow bells ringing and pouring rain. Our hotel, Obersee Gasthaus, is located deep within a mountain range, overlooking a large lake, surrounded by other mountain peaks. The housing accommodations for all 16 students consisted of bunk-beds packed into a room the size of a Hope College dorm room. Outside the cozy sleeping quarters lived two goats who quickly became the focus of our flashing cameras.

The afternoon adventures consisted of traveling down "our mountain" and half way up another to the Näfels` sports complex. Our practice gym had one wall constructed from floor to ceiling of windows framing an adjacent mountain. Bringing the Swiss Alps right into practice is rather distracting, but an experience of a lifetime.

Following our practice, we dined as a team with our parents, surrounded by Swiss athletes in the sports complex - dining hall. After stuffing ourselves we returned up our mountain for an early evening, falling asleep to cow bells and goats bleating.

Wednesday, August 13
Written by Lindsay Schaap, sophomore from Holland, Mich.

It was another very hot day in Bern today but we were able to escape the heat by taking a trip to a public pool down by the river. We had a relaxing afternoon that allowed us to rest up for a big match we had tonight.

At 5 p.m. we boarded a train for Spietz, a town roughly 45 minutes away from Bern. There we played a team that will now be playing in the top division of professional club volleyball here, following their recent championship win in the second division. Needless to say they were significantly better than team Papiermuhle who we played last night. We were excited to face some strong competition and we met the challenge well defeating team Spietz 25-22, 18-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-18. The match was well worth the travel.

Tonight is our last night in Bern so we will all try to get a good night's rest in preparation for our travel to Glarus.

Tuesday, August 12
Written by Katie Hall, senior from Holland, Mich.

Today will definitely be one to remember. We got up early as usual and went for a short run along the river in Bern which was beautiful. We did some conditioning which yielded many sore abs! We had a good breakfast and a productive practice with some shopping and eating in between. We also had a walking tour of the city later in the afternoon with Ursella, our guide who was very friendly as well as informative and humorous. It was time well spent. She speaks five languages like many of the people here do. It humbles me and makes me jealous.

One of the most memorable parts of the day was when we were leaving practice and waiting at the bus stop. We had all boarded the bus like we have done so many times on this trip and realized we had left without coach! We all looked back and saw her standing there by herself at the stop! We all got off at the next one and waited for her to catch the next bus, haha -- everybody got a laugh including coach. Our match last night went fairly well considering we played a team that was far below our caliber! We worked on our basics and had fun with the Swiss girls! We look forward to a tough match against a professional team tonight! Farewell from switzerland.

Monday, August 11
Written by Meredith Mick, a junior from Roscommon, Mich.

Today was a great day. We woke up early this morning and travelled to Bern by train. It was great to see the country and a change of scenery. It took about two hours to get here, but we all caught a few minutes of much-needed sleep while travelling. We left our luggage at the hostel and travelled to the Main Square to eat lunch and do a little sightseeing. Everyone went to a wide variety of places, but we ate some delicious pizza, pasta and salad at a little restaurant.

We had a great practice in a small gym, then travelled back to the hostel to check in. We got in our rooms then quickly went off to eat dinner. Some went to the Main Square while others went down by the river to have a quick meal. It is quite interesting to try to order food when the menu is in German and only Laura Hanfeld knows how to speak German. We are brushing up on our international sign language. After dinner many of the players came back to the hostel to play a euchre tournament against each other. As if we do not get enough friendly competition playing volleyball, we decided to bring it to the cards as well. Now everyone is getting ready for a full night of sleep because we have a long day ahead of us. Unlike all the travelling today, we will be conditioning, practicing and playing a game tomorrow.

Bern is absolutely beautiful. I have heard many positive reactions from all the players about how much they like it (except for the very difficult climb up the hill to Main Street...it makes the calves burn). There are so many beautiful sights, including a river right by the hostel and mountains in the background.

Sunday, August 10
Written by Kelley Hutchins, junior from Livonia, Mich., and Natalie Hoogeveen, sophomore from Orange City, Iowa

Today we started our morning bright and early at 8 a.m. with a cornflake and bread breakfast. We then proceeded to catch our 9 o'clock train to Lausanne to tour the Olympic museum.

We first ran into the Chateau d'Ouchy along Lake Geneva, which had picturesque Alps in the background. It was a gorgeous and very hot, day once again. The Olympic museum was inspiring for all of us. It was incredible to see all of the different medals, records, uniforms, and various information starting with the origin of the Olympic Games to the present.

From there the majority of the group went back to Geneva for a relaxing visit to the beach on the lake. There they represented Hope volleyball on the beach volleyball courts, playing with some pretty impressive Swiss athletes. They also swam in a huge wading pool, went down a water slide, and jumped off of a three story high dive! After the beach, they had dinner in town and relaxed for the evening.

A group of 12 of us headed east to the small town of Diablerets. We took the train for about a two hour ride through the mountains, and it was amazing!!! The scenery was beautiful the entire way. It was awesome to hear and see our group marvel and really appreciate the beauty of the towns and the green Alps. Once we got into town, we discovered that there was yet another festival, which we happened to arrive just in time for -- what luck! We walked around the town for a bit, admiring glaciers and waterfalls from a distance. There was a beautiful and ice cold stream running through the town, in which most of us proceeded to step into. From there, we decided to hold a contest to see which one of us could outlast the rest while standing in the frigid water. It was a good time! We ate dinner, celebrating Julie VanderSlice's birthday (20), outside at a cute little restaurant overlooking the stream and gazing at the mountains. We left for Geneva via the train, and met up with the rest of the group at the hostel. Right now everyone is just relaxing together, doing some laundry, emailing and phoning home, and enjoying our last night in Geneva before traveling tomorrow to Berne. All in all, this was a fantastic day!!!

Saturday, August 9
Written by Kara VanAssen, 2003 graduate and All-MIAA player from Jenison, Mich.

Wow, what a day! We started our morning bright and early with a jog and conditioning along Lake Geneva; the sun had just risen and it was beautiful outside! We then had practice after breakfast- did I mention it was HOT over here?!?

After lunch most of us went on a boat tour around Lake Geneva. Apparently France is right across the lake from us, but we didn't get to go over there--bummer! In the evening we had a "friendly" match against some players from their "A" league, which I think is their top professional league.

It was really fun. They were very nice, even though we couldn't really talk to them! They were pretty good, they took three of the five games from us.

It's really different playing against people you can't communicate with. Almost everyone speaks French in this part of Switzerland. The language barrier is difficult everywhere we go. From ordering a crepe from a vendor of the street to trying to figure out when we need to arrive at the gym for our match. I am also surprised by the number of people here who do know at least some English.

After our match today, we tried to make it back to the hostel we are staying in, but it was virtually impossible because there were so many people lining the streets to watch the fireworks that night. So we stopped to watch them, too. WOW! They were the best fireworks I have ever seen in my life! Just think about what we think of as a grand finale, only way better, and lasting an hour. You could barely even see all the fireworks in your peripheral vision. There were so many at a time it was amazing. And just when we thought it was over, they would start up again.

So besides being hot and sweaty all the time -- we are having an awesome time and it is such a great cultural experience!

Friday, August 8
Written by senior co-captain McKenna Troyan of Sylvania, Ohio

Today we arrived in beautiful Geneva after a long day of travel. Some of us have traveled to Europe before, while others have not. So this is an experience of a lifetime for all. The city is absolutely gorgeous and busy....did I mention hot with this heat wave?? We are trying to handle it as well as possible with no air conditioning.

Today we toured the United Nations building that was very fascinating along with informational. It is right on the lake across from France. The view is breathtaking.

We also practiced today with little sleep under us, but it went very well and we are all excited to start competition. After practice we met up with the parents to have dinner at an Italian restaurant while enjoying the scenery. It is an early night for all of us since we have a long week ahead of us that we are all very excited for.