Estoy muy consada!
After 3 flights (Vancouver to Montreal, Montreal to Paris, Paris to Vigo), a 2-hour car ride (Vigo to Ferrol) and a combined 18 hours of traveling, I had finally arrived in Ferrol, Spain. Tired, jetlagged and hungry, I was dropped off at my new home by the club’s President – who reminded me to be ready for evening practice. After 3 seasons abroad, this came as no surprise. As with most European teams, it’s a norm. Despite the fact that I had no idea what day it was and my mind was in a complete jumble – I was expected to lace up my basketball shoes and show Ferrol that I was worth the money they’re paying me.
Arriving at the gym with head coach Nacho (great name right?), I was quickly introduced to my new teammates. This alone was quite exciting, as I learned my team employs 5 full time professionals. Add that to the fact that I’m not the tallest player (3rd tallest), I’ll finally be able to play my natural position at small forward this year. Once I had tried and failed miserably pronouncing all my new teammates names, it was right into a long practice full of unfamiliar drills. My only focus that evening was getting my legs underneath me and working up a sweat. Preparing myself mentally enabled me to make the transition quite smoothly.
The following morning however, was a different story. Not only did I have to get up early, but I was also expected to effortlessly join our demanding 3-a-day training routine. Not sleeping well the night before and with my body still in a different time zone, I woke up fatigued with a cloudy head. I managed to survive the day, only to wake up and do it again and again...Every morning we condition and shoot, afternoons we lift or condition (again!) and in the evenings we have a 2-hour practice session. It’s insane.
For the last 3 seasons abroad, I’ve been a late signee and have managed to avoid all preseason training. I’d land in my new country, practice a few times and jump right into games. I’ve never had to endure the god-awful preseason filled with excessive amounts of conditioning and weight lifting. This year however, there was no way out of it. As an early signee in a very good league, it was expected I arrive September 1st and be ready to go. Though conditioning has been tough, I came in great shape and am constantly proving to be best on the team in this area. It’s always rewarding as a ‘big girl’ (post player) to beat the little guards (and other pros) in fitness drills. I feel really good about my conditioning level right now. The only thing I’m worried about is the weight I’m losing (which normally wouldn’t be a problem…) however, my normal playing weight is around 170 lbs, but, with the extreme humidity and amount of sweat I lose during practices, I’m down to 165lbs. This affects my strength inside. Each session I lose close to 2 lbs in sweat - it’s gross! I’m conscious to rehydrate and literally have to force myself to drink 2+ liters of water during/after each session. Understand I’m not complaining about the hot, sunny September weather (mid 20°C [70-80°F]), but the humidity is killing me!
This preseason has been rough and will likely last until the end of the month. Our first official game is October 9th and I’m literally counting down the days. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced 3-a-days, everyday. As a result, my body is extremely sore and I’m exhausted. Add all this to the fact that I’m still not sleeping well makes for an unfortunate combination. But I’m surviving and oddly enjoying every minute of it...
Since, I’ve been completely inundated with basketball, I’ve had very little free time to go out and explore my new city. In fact, in the free time that I’ve had, all I’ve wanted to do is eat and sleep…which is definitely not like me. However, last weekend we were finally rewarded with a Sunday off. Gathering all my remaining energy, I rallied and ventured out of my apartment to see what Ferrol had to offer. Heading towards the water, I found that most of the coast is blanketed by a massive naval base – which made getting to the Atlantic more difficult than originally anticipated. After walking beside the huge walls for a good mile or so, it finally opened up into a marina and boardwalk. The area is very pretty, lined with nice restaurants, palm trees and people milling about. Taking some pictures and noting the names of streets I wanted to explore at another time, I took a different route home and found myself walking down the main shopping street. Being a Sunday, everything was closed. So I took time to window shop while enjoying the sun. Strangely, I was somewhat uncomfortable as there wasn’t a human in sight for a good 45 minutes. This was unnerving and really weird. Most European cities close down to an extent on Sunday – but Spain takes it to a whole new level. Aside from the marina, all of the city was desolate…I felt like I was Will Smith in I am Legend. It was creepy.
As I head into my 2nd full week in Ferrol, I’m finally starting to feel comfortable. Despite the fact I have no Spanish language background, I feel as though I’m starting to pick up words and phrases quite quickly. I understand most of what is being said to me, but the pronunciation and rolling of the r’s is proving difficult. I really like my teammates, coaches and the organization has been very professional so far. Aside from living in an apartment older than I had hoped and a noisy neighbor living above me, I have no complaints. My team looks strong and I think we could have a very good season. I have no idea what to expect from this competitive league, but this is definitely the strongest European team I’ve played on so far.
With a day off this weekend and first ‘friendly’ match Monday, I’ll be sure to have something more interesting to share next week.