Sonja Newcombe – Kazan, Russia, Happy December!

The last 2 weeks have been tough for me (Yes I know I said that in the last post too, seems like an unfortunate theme here for a little while, hopefully that pattern breaks soon). First my team didn’t have any games for 3 weeks and then when we finally made it to Kazan to play I injured myself in our morning serve and pass right before the game. Needless to say the last 2 weeks which were supposed to be full of hard work and games was full of physio and doctors appointments for me along with lots of watching instead of participating. The injury is nothing too serious which makes it even more frustrating. Getting to the bottom of what it actually is has been the most difficult part. The language barrier in this case is so giant some days its more overwhelming than anything else. Due mostly to overuse and poor mechanics I have some calcifications and a bone spur that are causing many tendons in my foot to be inflamed and painful. I took one step in serve and pass the morning of the Kazan game felt some pain and by the time game time rolled around I was in major pain even just when I was walking. Consequently I have been out for the past 2 weeks and by the end of this third week I will have missed 3 games.

For me, especially this season, being overseas and not being able to play is heart breaking. I’ve told you some about the issues with Kyle’s visa so he can’t be here with me, which was unplanned which makes things difficult. And with every overseas team there are difficulties/challenges/adventures whatever you want to call them but at the end of the day if I can practice and work hard at what I love to do I’m ok. Having to sit on the sidelines and watch absolutely crushes my spirit. I am proactive and try to take care of my body as best as I can and when it fails me I’m frustrated to say the least. All that being said I also have learned to listen to my body and take care of it when it says “hey time to take a break and fix me now”.

Luckily, I get to go home for a week after our game in Moscow this coming Friday! That will mean that I will have had 3 weeks off and I should be feeling much better by then. We have another break in the season, our next game will not be until the beginning of January. So actually if there ever is a “perfect time” to have an injury it is this one because I’ll have time to get back into the groove after being out for so long.

Back to me getting to go home. Yes! I’m so excited to get to have some time at home. My team is letting me have a week off so that I can collect my husband, see my family and have a little rejuvenating time state side. This break comes at a perfect time for me. Unfortunately I won’t be home for Christmas and New Years but Kyle’s family and my family are going to have Christmas a little early this year. Its still not 100 percent but Kyle’s visa should (finally) be ready for him so that he can come back to Tyumen with me after the week at home is over. We have plans to exchange gifts, build gingerbread houses, eat lots of mexican food (my request), watch Christmas movies and most importantly spend time together. I can’t wait to be in the same place as my family and get lots of bear hugs from everyone. Time together is so precious and I plan to make the most of every minute.

A little volleyball update is that we lost to Kazan 0-3 in Kazan 2 weekends ago and we beat Proton 3-1 last weekend. To travel to Kazan we took a train from Tyumen to Kazan, it took 22 hours each direction. We left at 2 am on the way to Kazan and 11pm coming back. Departure times are adjusted based on the 2 hour time difference between Tyumen and Kazan so that you arrive in either place around 10 pm. 22 hours on a train is BRUTAL! Yes you sleep for most of it but there isn’t a lot of space to move around when you are awake. We each brought our own food for the train and luckily I remembered to bring my pillow so I was actually pretty comfortable most of the time. I got to have dinner with Jordan Larson-Burbach after the game. It was great to see her, catch up on how the Grand Champions Cup went in Japan and have someone that I can share stories with, many that make me want to pull my hair out, and she totally understands. Plus we had some pretty good pizza too! Our game vs Proton was at home last weekend so luckily we didn’t have to travel again. My team showed some great fight and pulled out the win with the sets being close and having to come from behind a few times. It was interesting to me to be on the outside and watch the game, it allows for a unique perspective.

Getting on the train.
Train life, snacks and tv shows.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgivings and is getting into the holiday spirit. Trying to explain Black Friday to my Russian teammates was pretty funny. I got all different kinds of reactions from them. I’m learning about holidays here in Russia as well. We have practice on Christmas Day here, since most are Russian Orthodox here New Years is the big holiday. And man do I mean big! Presents, dinner, parties,  and reservations being made now so that you can get a good spot to celebrate. We still don’t have concrete plans yet but I’ve heard lots of ideas being tossed around that sound like fun.

 You can always spot us in our blue jackets when we are traveling.
 Exploring Kazan before the match.
 Our nontraditional Thanksgiving, Mexican style. It was surprisingly yummy.

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