Aug. 8, 2011
This past summer, Sooner sophomore Sallie McLaurin traveled to China and Peru with USA Volleyball. Here's McLaurin's journal entry on her summer vacation.
In the month of June I traveled to China to play volleyball with Brianne Barker and some other girls from different colleges. The experience was incredible and I learned a lot as a player. The food in China was not the best at the first hotel but we survived off of rice, watermelon and bread. Snacks that we brought with us vanished pretty quickly. When it came to playing in the first tournament we did not win as much as we wanted because we had to adjust to the fast pace of the Chinese teams.
The crowd at Shandong was amazing; they had a drum and whenever the guy would make a beat the crowd would shout out chants trying to help the Chinese teams. When we traveled to Beijing the bus ride was a lot shorter than before, only five hours instead of eight. When we arrived at the hotel we could tell that it was going to be a lot better. This hotel was more updated and the food was more Americanized which was nice for all of our stomachs.
The first team that we played was the team that won the last tournament, which meant we were looking for some revenge. At the end of the tournament we placed first and were all excited about the big win. What helped us win the tournament this time was knowing how the Chinese run a faster offense and are scrappy making us expect long rallies and having to fight for each point.
Not only was playing a great experience but also the sight seeing and the opportunity to experience the Chinese culture. China was a beautiful country and had many markets that all of us girls enjoyed shopping at.
The next adventure I had was playing for the Women’s Junior National Team. We arrived in Los Angeles on July 10 to train for 10 days. When I arrived I only knew one person going into this adventure. We normally had one or two practices a day. Practice was intense because every one wanted to play their best, trying to earn their spot but with all new players coming together we had to learn quickly that we had to build chemistry and personality as a team before we could think about our selves.
We scrimmaged China a couple times in California and each time we played them we became a better team, even though we lost every time.
When we departed from LAX to head to Peru we ate our last meal, nothing but the best Panda Express. When we arrived in Peru we were greeted with police officers and some news reporters. The entire time we were in Lima or in Trujillo we had a police escort in front of our bus with a police officer on a motorcycle behind us. Every match was intense because we were all trying to work for the same goal, to earn a gold medal.
We ended up placing fourth but barley missed the chance to medal. We did not reach our goal of the trip but it was still successful because we placed top four in the world while becoming a closer as a team and working hard together.
The experience was worth it because I not only learned some new ways to improve my technique but also grew as an individual. Playing on these two teams has taught me a lot and hopefully I can bring some of what I have learned this summer to the court this fall. I am looking forward to this season and cannot wait to play with my team again.