Arriving in Italy

Aug. 25, 2009, 6:51 p.m. (ET)

Aug. 25, 2008

OK Volleyball Fans,

This is Ken Preston and I will be "Blogging from the Boot". I am the Head of Delegation for the U.S. Boys' Youth National Volleyball Team at the World Championship here in Italy. Our Head Coach is Andy Read from Long Beach State and is assisted by Sean Byron of Ohio State and Dan Friend of Lewis University. I will be giving you some of the "inside" info and hopefully get some help from some of our players. 

Two cities will be hosting these World Championship that are held every two years. Sixteen teams have been placed in four pools of four. We are in the city of Jesolo (pronounced Yazz' olo) where eight teams will begin. It is a tourist town just across the bay and down the peninsula from Venice. Our pool consists of Iran who is the reigning champion, Japan and Serbia. The other eight teams are located about three hours from here in Bassano de Grappa. Jesolo is a tourist town and is loaded with sun worshipers from around the world.

Our team has been training in Florida for the past two weeks and arrived yesterday, Monday, August 24th, after a delayed and long flight from Miami. We were deposited at the Venice airport after a layover in Frankfurt and a flight from Miami that was delayed five hours. The nine-hour flight from Miami had what had to be the smallest seats in the history of international travel. I'm not sure how some of our players fit into them, but suffice it to say that some of our guys were sore when we arrived. We got to our hotel around 6PM, checked into our rooms, had a delicious dinner and watched the sun worshipers parade down the main street in front of our hotel.

Today, Tuesday Aug. 25th, was our first full day and we had a great one. Up for breakfast at 8AM on a bluebird day, bus to the end of the peninsula, ferry to Venice, three hours in the beautiful city and back for our first full practice, dinner, meeting and down for the count.

Our trip to one of the most famous cities in the world was a blast - but very warm and very crowded. I could not believe the amount of tourists on that island. No wonder the thing is sinking. Its small streets were overly crowded and claustrophobic. But it was a good day and we all enjoyed its magical look with its architecture, canals, narrow streets, gondolas, etc. Several of our team came back with new shades and white captains’ hats.

But after all that, we had a very good and focused practice. After a long trip and a long day the group went hard for 90 minutes – a very good sign for our team's hopes to medal in this tournament.

Oh well, that's it for now and as Jackson Browne is singing to me in my Ipod "All Good Things Must Come to an End".  But this is just the beginning.

Yours truly, Ciao!

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