U.S. Women's National Team Journal with Joan Powell

June 18, 2008, 10:48 a.m. (ET)
June 17, 2008 * Kobe, Japan * FIVB World Grand Prix

Day 1

The women’s team departed from Colorado Springs on the 6 a.m. flight headed for San Francisco. Captain Robyn Ah Mow-Santos, accompanied by her young son Jordan met the team at the airport with individual goodie bags. Jordan had written each player’s name on their white lunch bag. Robyn will be joining her teammates in the last round in Chinese Taipei.

Checking in with the abundance of luggage and equipment was quite a site. We all made it through security without at hitch. The United regional jet was not our choice for the almost two and half hour flight, but we survived.

After arriving in San Francisco, the women’s team and entourage spread out in the international terminal. Some ate, some shopped and most called home, with a couple women even having a pedicure!

Dr. Lori Boyajian-ONeill met the team for the Nagoya departure. Dr. Lori traveled to Poland and Russia with the team to the Grand Prix last year.

During the boarding process coaches Sue Woodstra and “Jenny” Lang Ping and I were pleasantly surprised as we were upgraded to business class. It was heavenly. Over half way through the flight I switched to Economy Plus so Diane French, our technical coordinator, could give her long legs a break.

After our 10-hour flight, all of the luggage was gathered and then we were off to customs. We were then met by a very friendly Japanese crew who took us to our new beautiful bus. Our interpreter told us that the bus ride to Kobe would be 3-4 hours.

The scenery was of luscious green hills, no billboards and the immaculate highway was lined in ivy. About three hours later we arrived at our destination – Kobe Seishin Oriental Hotel. We were met by a number of gracious hotel staff. Besides our interpreter, we were fortunate to have Gen Kawakita, our technical consultant, with us as he was very helpful with the language and check-in.

Dinner was served buffet style at 7 p.m. The Japanese team was just finishing its dinner as the American team surveyed the variety of delectable foods.

“Jenny,” the Doctor and I have a preliminary meeting tomorrow morning after breakfast followed by training.

The team for the first leg of the Grand Prix is an eclectic group – some veterans and some bambiis! With the Olympic roster just around the corner, the coaches are anxious to watch the different combinations as the rosters for the three legs change slightly as we travel from Japan to Poland to Chinese Taipei and hopefully back to Japan for the championships.

The roster for week 1 in Japan is:
Foluke Akinradewo
Cynthia Barboza
Lindsey Berg
Heather Bown
Nicole Davis
Kim Glass
Tayyiba Haneef-Park
Jennifer Joines
Angela McGinnis
Kristin Richards
Danielle Scott-Arruda
Kim Willoughby

The U.S. will compete against Turkey, Kazakstan and Japan.

Day 2

At breakfast, everyone seemed rested. The buffet seemed to satisfy all parties. Jenny, Dr. Lori and I met with the organizers. When all of the administrative items were in order, we were able to leave for training.

Gen Kawakita, technical consultant, was able to make contact with a club for our practice session. The Hisamitsu Springs facility was very good and the hospitality even better. Following practice, the women worked out in the weight room. As we were leaving, the club staff gifted us with little bags, cases of bananas and grapes.

We were back to the hotel for lunch, followed by a little rest and then a video session and then it was time for dinner.

During lunch, I went for a jaunt – jogging down a bicycle/walking path with trees hovering overhead. It was fairly muggy, but it was nice to get out and run off the jet lag. Upon my return I checked out the local mall that is just outside the hotel’s back door. I was amazed at the number of pastry shops. Such temptations!

After showering, Dr. Lori and I perused the shopping area. We picked up a power strip. Upon our return, the women were still in their video session so we rested and then joined the women at 7 p.m. for dinner.

The best thing so far? The heated toilet seats and the bidets!!

Joan Powell
Team Leader, U.S. Women's National Team at World Grand Prix