In August Coach Cindy Fredrick and the Washington State University volleyball team spent 12 days in Europe, sightseeing and playing eight matches. While winning all its matches was special, it wasn’t everything, Fredrick said of the tour. She agreed to keep a journal. Here’s her report.
Saturday, August 10
We arrive in Munich at 9:30 a.m. after departing Pullman Friday at 3 a.m. Our guide, Cory, meets us at the airport. Frank, our bus driver, takes us to the City Square. The first place we see is McDonald’s. We have a break, so we walk through the large shopping area. Being with 15 young women, their reaction is, of course, “Great! Shopping!”
We spent two hours in the city center, mainly watching the people, and they watch us. We are in our Cougar warm-ups with t-shirts proclaiming “Cougar Volleyball-European Tour.” That night we have our first practice. The cushiony feel of European volleyballs takes getting used to.
In one hotel there are no televisions and no bathrooms in the rooms. The looks on the young people’s faces when they see their rooms are priceless. No television? No bathroom?
Sunday, August 11
Today we drive to the Dachau concentration camp. Walking through the fence and entering the building, the mood is somber. My players are engrossed with reading every large display explaining the war, the rise of Hitler, and the Third Reich. Their faces and eyes show their disbelief and sadness as they walk in the showers, observe the wall hooks where people were hung and tortured. We read short bios on some of the prisoners and the Nazi soldiers. We walk in silence across the roll call years where over 27,000 prisoners had been. You can’t describe your thoughts as you watch the film documenting what truly was man’s inhumanity to man.
This is an education you don’t get from a book or a classroom. It is a morning none of us will forget.
Tonight we have our first match against Club Lohof.
Monday, August 12
Today we travel to Fussen en route to Augsburg for a match. We were down 24-21 in one game and fought back to win 27-25. We are beginning to understand how to win, how to come back.
Tuesday, August 13
Fussen is definitely a tourist area. We visit The Royal Castle Neuschwanstein built in the late 1800s, but don’t go inside. The ticket line is too long. The Austria countryside becomes more beautiful with the Alps looming into heavy clouds.
The excitement picks up in Salzburg. The Mozart festival is going on. There is much street music, puppeteers, painters-and many people.
We enter the Salzburg Cathedral in the Square. The paintings on the ceilings, the beautiful architecture and reverence of the cathedral are inspiring. Salzburg has to be at the top of our list for its beauty and cleanliness.
This is a good night for the Cougars. We play tough and learn about going face to face in competition while keeping our composure.
This evening we have choices of Austrian goulash with venison, trout, or macaroni, Austrian-style. Our practice at restaurants is for at least two people to order different dishes and share.
Wednesday, August 14
Chelsie is sure they’re giving us sleeping gas through the vents, as it seems the players struggle to stay awake as soon as the bus starts to roll.
Austria is beautiful. As we leave our guesthouse area we are surrounded by the steep hills and goats are grazing. I break into my Julie Andrews’ imitation of “High on a hill there’s a lonely goatherd.” Our German coach driver and his girlfriend laughingly praise my yodeling.
We’re now traveling to Hungary. No university volleyball team from the States has played in Hungary, we’re told. The Cougars are proud to be the first and want to be a positive representative. At the gym we are honored to see the American flag hanging beside the Hungarian flag.
Thursday, August 15
Our guide speaks very good English. He is anxious to pack in all of the sights of his beloved Budapest in just four hours. We drive by the Parliament building, which is exquisite, right on the Danube. There is concern that with the rising water buildings will be in peril. Our tour continues to the Opera House and the Fishermen’s Bastion.
After our second match with Club Vassas, our players and theirs have dinner together in a pub. Most of the Hungarians speak some English, so the conversations are lively. There is laughter and exchanging of e-mails addresses and t-shirts.
Friday, August 16
We begin our trip to the Czech Republic. We choose to go back through Austria, not wanting to pay for another visa to travel through Slovenia. Our match with the Brno Club begins one-half hour after we arrive. The gym is brand-new. We feel like we’re at a Pac-10 school. We come away with a five-game win.
Saturday, August 17
This is a day much like our Fourth of July. In downtown Brno people all dressed in costume celebrate the freedom of the Czech people from the Swedes. We take in the sights and visit the shops where beautiful hand-cut crystal is sold.
Sunday, August 18
We leave for Prague in the morning. Along the way we stop at a charming small town with pink, blue, and yellow buildings. The streets are cobblestone. After lunch we continue on to a little ski town, where we play Club Praha. We look tired and lose the first game but come to life and win the next three games. We are relieved to have completed our competition 8-0. The team breaks into the Cougar Fight Song.
Monday, August 19
After lunch we depart on a three-hour ride to Prague. The bus has become our second home. Turnov, a small town famous for its garnets, is on the way. We stop. Women and shopping are the same, no matter the country.
Tuesday, August 20
Our day in Prague begins with a tour of St. Vitas Cathedral. We brave the 286 steps that wind to the top. There are guards outside the castle area near the cathedral. The players choose one to try to make smile. They are serious young men, but this one cannot resist the charm of the Cougar women.
Frank and Doreen have taken such special care of us as our coach driver and assistant. To honor them, we all chip in with a card and $200 tip. It brings them both to tears, as well as many of us.
Wednesday, August 21
We spend one last morning shopping (of course!) before the nine-hour trip back to Munich and our flight for the U.S. August 22.
The opportunity to travel in Eastern Europe and experience the cultures, the people, and food is a real bonus. I am so proud of my women-for their play and for being the most admirable representatives of their families and their university. This is education and sport at their best. It will always be one of the fondest memories of Washington State Volleyball.