Aug. 20, 2012
Junior outside hitter Carly Edwards is back with her fourth blog entry from her trip to China this summer to play for Team USA in a pair of tournaments. In this entry Edwards tells about being in the city of Tianjin and playing the team's first match in China.
The next morning I woke up excited to be feeing a lot better and to be a part of the sightseeing planned for the day. Our host took us throughout the city of Tianjin on a carriage ride showing the rural part of living in Tianjin, noting how incredibly crowded it is in this country and how poor the air quality remains. Just looking up at the sky one would think that it is foggy when in reality it is the pollution and smog that covers the entire surface of China.
After the ride, we went to a museum that traced the history of Tianjin and their struggle for freedom from Britain and France regarding opium and the use of the Haihe River as a form of transport. One of the most unique signs we found said, "Grass on your smile around a winding road." I think in America the translation would be do not walk on the grass but instead we were given a laughable translation from Chinese to English.
We returned to the hotel for lunch where we had white rice and watermelon, something that became the group favorite over time and had some time to rest and prepare for our first match against Shanghai at 3:30pm.
Many of us did not know what to expect from the Chinese and were just excited to get on the court and play someone other than ourselves. We warmed up and put our USA jerseys on going over our scouting report and understanding what it means to be a representative of the United States. The key to this idea is never giving up. We are persistent through it all and keep fighting through all circumstances. This motto became my own personal one as I went through sickness and other ups and downs over the course of the trip.
Arriving at People's Arena we were all so excited to get into warm ups and face the Chinese for our first of the six matches while in China. After warm ups we had to enter the gym holding an American flag next to the Chinese team holding their flag, illustrating the start of the match. After we marched into the gym we shook hands with each player and exchanged a gift. The gift from the Chinese turned out to be a small medallion that had the name of the Chinese professional team on it. The match itself was very challenging. Our nerves of playing against a professional team that had been competing together for the last few years intimidated us and needless to say we went on to lose the match. We learned a lot in this first match and had a much better idea of how the Chinese play as we went into our next match. That night we had the opportunity to watch our All Star Team play Tianjin the official home team of the tournament. After getting a sense of their game we felt much more prepared and knew more of what to expect when it became game time.
We did some more sightseeing the next day, having a chance to visit Little Italy as a group and then came back for lunch before heading to People's Arena for our last match. We played a lot better as a team and were able to challenge the Tianjin team in front of hundreds of fans. Having the opportunity to represent the United States was unreal and tonight it really sunk in as we played in front of many fans and people who supported volleyball in this region of China.