Brian Thornton Blog: World League Intercontinental Round

By Brian Thornton | July 10, 2012, 1:54 p.m. (ET)

NOTE: Brian Thornton is writing a blog for Mizuno, a key USA Volleyball sponsor and partner. Thornton is a Mizuno-sponsored athlete and will periodically provide insights into being a U.S. Men's National Team athlete while representing Mizuno. For more information Mizuno, visit

July 10, 2012

Italy: First off, let me say that they are never kidding about it being a truly intercontinental experience. There's no second off following this first off. I just like beginning sentences with "first off". In fact, there will be many things to follow but I'm not going to number and list them. You can do that if you'd like in your head though from here on out. I would never ridicule you for your savant-like behavior. Seventh off, it was great to finally play in Italy. I was lucky enough to visit the country on christmas vacation and spend a lovely christmas eve dinner with a ton of American volleyball players all wondering how I was able to get a small retreat from Poland. Christmas was great and I really enjoyed the country and was looking forward to playing a little volleyball there during world league. It didn't really go as well as I had imagined. We lost to France, barely pulled out a 5 game thriller against an emotionally driven South Korean team and got drubbed by Italy in one of the best serving performances I have ever played against, if not the best. They had these unbelievable chocolate croissants at the hotel though so the weekend wasn't a total loss.

France: We went to France. We won three matches. We ate Thai Food for 11 straight meals. And it was good Thai food. Nobody complained of repetitiveness. I have played in france before and have been on the receiving end of some bad asian food there. It's actually difficult to find good asian food in France. They nailed it. They pretty much nailed everything in France actually. Even the DJ hammered a rendition of a song that went "You have to pump it up, you gotta pump it up" permanently into my brain so that i can't see a ball blocked on the volleyball court without immediately singing those lines. He played it every time after a block. So roughly about 268 times. most of those belonging to David Smith that weekend. For those of you that don't know David Smith is hearing impaired and went to school with me all 4 years at UC Irvine. I've seen countless articles written about him over the years with his so-called "disability" being the thematic presence in the article. I hate that word. Terrible word. For one reason he wouldn't be quite the outstanding individual today if he was a "normy" such as myself. Don't get me wrong…he would still be an outstanding individual but he just wouldn't be the same David Smith who never complains about a bad set, yells genuinely at the top of his lungs with excitement after a stuff, falls asleep in 3 seconds flat, can never really get heckled, and shakes his head and gives me a "really this joke hasn't gotten old in 8 years?" look if I cover my mouth with my hand when speaking to him. Basically the David Smith I have come to know and love over the years. Also, I'm convinced that this thing works out in volleyball as an advantage. He's the best read blocker I have ever seen and I think some of it is strictly from his ability to pick things up that the rest of us "normies" can't because we take advantage of having all of our senses every day in our lives. Like Spidey with his spider senses. Dave Smith has super hero read blocking senses. Dave Smith Senses. Speaking of which, no way this social network dude can live up to Tobias Maguire. He couldn't even hold onto The Facebook….now we expect him to hold onto Mary Jane while bouncing from skyscraper to skyscraper. This section should be titled "David Smith and bizarre spiderman tangent" but instead it's titled "France". Sorry.

South Korea: We flew directly from France. We won three matches. The hotel was filled with sweet electronic gizmos just as you might expect which was awesome. I like lights and pushing buttons. If I were a fish I wouldn't make it long. There's no lure I wouldn't chase. Side note: Don't go to Outback Steakhouse and order whatever it is they call the shrimp pasta in South Korea. You'll be sick for a couple days. Great decision by me. I couldn't have just gotten a steak that would be far too predictable. I had to go with an Australian American take on an Italian seafood dish in Asia. Smart.

Dallas: We did enough to get to world league finals in Bulgaria by beating Italy in the last match. It was in front of a heavily weighted junior olympics crowd which was taking place at the same time in Dallas. All i really want to say here is that it was a lot of fun to see some of my old club coaches and watch my old juniors club play. It brought me back. I also want to say Thanks to USA volleyball for putting on a great event. The Omni hotel was fantastic and so were the many USA volleyball employees that were there to make it a great world league weekend. You are not thanked enough for your time….so Thank you. Onto the finals in Bulgaria….

Until Next Time,

Brian Thornton