October 13, 2011
Louis-Pierre Mainville blogging from the Pan Am Games preparation week
Post taken from the FTC at Pan Am Games blog. View full blog at http://teamcanadaftc.blogspot.com/
The first practice of a trip is always the hardest one. You haven’t slept for almost 2 days, you have been sitting in a plane or a bus for a total of 16 hours. When you are not sitting in a plane or a bus, you are sitting in an airport or walking around trying to find something good and cheap to eat. There isn’t anything good so you get a 15$ sandwich with fries. You get to your room and you can’t sleep because you practice soon and you need to be able to sleep at night. You’re all dehydrated from not drinking enough water during the trip and your feet are swollen. All you want is to shower but you need to put on your black practice shirt and head over to the gym. It is 30 degrees in there and the humidity level is sky high. Doesn’t matter, you are a pro and you need to practice…sorry, you need to practice well!
This is pretty much the conditions in which the team showed up at the practice gym of the Brazilian national training center early tonight. But you know what, we could have been wearing green and yellow and no one would have known we were just coming off the bus. Ok, the legs were done by the end of the first hitting drill and guys were looking for air in this thick humidity but what matters is not the physical shape during a first practice, it’s the focus and the attitude.
Practice was set to start at 18h30 and we had a snack prior to that. I sat down to eat my delicious single-slice-of-ham sandwich and worked slowly on a piece of pineapple knowing that I had all the time in the world to get to the gym and get my shows on. I was not even done that all the guys were getting up and starting to walk towards the gym located 115 meters away. I tried to tell them they had time but they didn’t care, they wanted to get to the gym. At 18h25, I had my shoes on and was warming up my shoulder with an elastic band just beside the court. All the guys suddenly gathered around Vince and I waiting for the 1-2-Canada that starts it all.
“Guys, take your time, you can still play a little bit of short court, we’ve got 5 more minutes” (that was me trying to get more time to warm up my shoulder) They went back to hitting some balls, peppering or passing some balls against the wall…they were just craving some volleyball.
This is the attitude I’m talking about: everyone showing up to practice early and wanting to get on the court. Practice started and everyone was sharp (except for my team at volley-tennis that got destroyed 15-6). The guys all had heavy legs but they went at it as if they were coming back from a couple of days off. I don’t know if it’s the Brazilian spirit of volleyball wandering inside the walls of that gym, something they put in the food or simply the dulce de leche, but this group of young players really impressed me tonight. For most of them, it is their first big trip and they are preparing to play the best team they have ever played but they looked like they had done it all their life.
It’s been just over 4 months since I got surgery on my knee for an ACL repair and I am eager to play some games. My teammates have been practicing twice a day for 4 weeks and they look even hungrier than I am. They inspire me and I am really proud to be part of that group of determined athletes. Keep following us through that trip because some great things are going to happen.
Keep it up boys and see you at breakfast in the morning!