In January 2012, I made the trip to Luxembourg with the SWNTP for 4 days of training and intense matches. It was during this tournament I was treated to hearing an email sent from Lynne Beattie to Craig Faill detailing her continuing passion, commitment and respect for volleyball. It was then I decided I had to try, I had to experience that lifestyle, a pro volleyball player. Lynne was extremely encouraging and helpful, putting me in touch with an agent. I wasn’t holding my breath…but a few months later I was presented with an offer. France. I accepted the next morning!
To say I was scared would be an understatement. I was terrified. I left my job, filled a suitcase, and flew out on 1st September to fulfil an 8 month contract. The first month was difficult, meeting the team, settling into the accommodation, adopting the new structures and routines, trying to remember my high school French…but soon it all became the norm.
The team consists of me, an American, 4 Bulgarians, 1 Latvian and only 2 French and we compete in the French National 2 League, which is a very good level for me. A couple of the players have played for Toulon Provence Mediterranee (TPM) before, or other teams, and some like me are pro for their first year. We train at night around 4-5times a week and 2 weights sessions. The coach is always very organised and he rarely fails to utilise his full 2hours in the hall. My role in the team is slightly different to what I’m used to in Scotland, different responsibilities, and I have had to make a few technical changes including how I serve receive. It has been a challenge since session one, and the coach works us all hard and expects a high standard. In order to improve I had to be willing to change the details, sometimes things would get worse before they got better. But after 4 months I am pleased to say I have managed to effect these adjustments, and plan to refine over the next half of the season.
During the day I am free to spend it as I please. During the warmer months I would rise early and do my own cardio workout around the area, on the beach, go a hike up to a beautiful church…I know it’s tough! But during these winter months I have been restricted to the house a little more, and have even started trying yoga in my room. I’m hoping the warmer weather will return soon so I can get back outside to enjoy the sunshine before April arrives all too soon! I have also been enjoying time to read, learn French, cook and bake, and explore the area. My parents visited in November and we took a day trip to Monaco and Cannes.
I never thought I’d say it but I do miss a 3 match day at home. I still receive emails from Su Ragazzi, and reading about refereeing duties, Cammy’s cafe, the hustle and bustle of the day… I do miss it a little. Our men and women train and play in different venues, different days, different times, so there is not the same community or family feeling I got back home.
So far we have had a pretty successful season, sitting in first place 3 points clear having lost only one game 3-2 early on in the season. I am confident that January – April will prove to be just as victorious, winning the league and promotion to the National 1 league. Our first game of 2013 is on Sunday (20th January). Nine games played, Nine to go. We have been back training since 3rd January, we will be ready for the challenge, and I will continue to work as hard as I can to profit from the experience with more than just a tan.
CEO of Scottish Volleyball Margaret Ann Fleming commented ‘It is great to see another of our talented athletes within the Scottish game plying their trade in Europe. Laura has come through from the grassroots of volleyball, as so many others have, and has been rewarded by her dedication and skill.’
If you have any questions about wanting to play professionally, please contact the office for more information by email.