PictureWith my savior, Maria.
Up bright and early, it’s my second day in Brazil and I can’t wait to get started. But with a little hesitation, not knowing what the early morning would bring, with my official announcement to the Brazilian media and volleyball world scheduled to take place.

So far I’ve learned with the Brazilian culture that it is okay if not acceptable to be 15, 30 minutes late but never when business is involved. So I was confused waiting for my ride outside my hotel but I had no worries, I had my ipod and I was happy groovin’ on the sidewalk, just waiting and people watching. Eventually a man came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder… and spoke in Portuguese to me. “Obrigado” (sorry) I said to him.. more pokes.. and pointing to the hotel (yes) I said, (it’s a hotel) more poking and continued Portuguese, none which I could understand. At this moment, I’m starting to get a little agitated.. thinking, I’ve said obrigagdo 6+ times and I can’t help you. He finally pulls out a piece of paper that read ‘Dustin’. I carefully read it, smiled and said “como vai? vamos meu amigo” as he let out a relived smile, we were on our way as I found my driver.

We spoke a little but the connection was a couple weeks away and our journey concluded at the team’s office where we said our goodbyes as I meet up with the team’s management, who all speaks great English! Lucky me.

Off in the next car and we arrive to a huge building, Maria, (my translator for the event) her father Ricardo and our press agent, ‘Johnny’, (who might be the happiest guy I know, constantly with and engaging and huge smile across his face) lead the way inside. I take my first step inside and am on a determined line going straight towards the back wall as I hear ‘esquerda’ (left) and as my head tilts, my eyes simultaneously widen as I see 3 TV cameras and a group of anxious faces. (I think we we’re a bit late, that or they actually were excited to meet me).

As we stepped in the room, I gave my most professional “ahhh?” face, as I looked at Johnny and Maria for direction as they simultaneously gave me the international recognized “go” movement with their hands. ‘Okay’, I think to myself, as I step in front of the wall, tatted with our team name and sponsors alike and we we’re off with the first reporter stepping up, in stride with her camera man.

The questions were brief and precise and I gave long, detailed answers, oblivious to my translator’s job, making it as complicated as possible for her to remember my whole answer and to then translate to the anxious reporter. She politely and calmly let me know that she couldn’t remember everything I had to say and if I could keep my answers not so long. Another “ahh” moment followed by my first smile since walking into the press conference and an ‘obrigado’ as we continued.

The press conference lasted around 20 minutes and to conclude the festivities was compimentary deserts and coffee. Of course I stayed away from the deserts (Not wanting to disappoint Lotman and Patak, I had to keep it super diesel) but to the coffee.. yes I couldn’t wait, recharging me for the next chapter of my day.

Picture"Flav" keeping us 'SUPER DIESEL!"
After a quick coffee, I was off to meet the rest of the team at the team’s weight room, which happened to be a 24 hour fitness type workout building, 3 stories in all. The 1st floor decorated with mats, pilates equipment and a MMA netted ring, the 2nd, where we spend most of our time, complete with all the machines and free weights and the 3rd dedicated to spinning, treadmills and other ellipticals. Anyways, what I’ve been told is the club just decided to buy it one day. Amazing, right? But it’s great, state of the art equipment and a very professional coach to go along with the facility, in one my newest friends and assistant coaches Flavio, or ‘Flav”. The atmosphere is great, with all the Brazilians taking a huge amount of pride in their physical condition. Along with Acacio (our 35 year old middle) leading the charge, dj-ing classic hits from ‘The Police’ to ‘Michael Jackson’, it’s truly an unbelievable experience to be there and lucky for me, we are there every day, building a great base of strength, conditioning and flexibility as we get closer to the season.

After 4 hours of rest we were back at it again, inside the dome and the intensity and power on display was amazing. There is so much emotion and effort invested with every ball and directly after a less then desirable outcome, communication follows as we move on. It’s a perfect recipe for constant improvement, even though I still say “J’ai” (I in French) when calling for a ball, messing up everything. But I am confident my mind will catch up and the “j’ai’s” will turn into “meu” in no time. As I get back to my hotel, my day is over, no more media for now, a quick moment of relaxation and again my focus shifts to how I am going to be better tomorrow and how I can best help this team in our fight to bring home the Brazilian championship to Maringa.

Estou muito feliz de ser parte da família de Moda Maringá.


08/15/2013 11:52am

Dustin, I am Johnny's mother and we are very happy to have a player like you in our team. I hope you enjoy beeing with us. If you need any kind of help, you can call Johhny, ok? Welcome!

09/01/2013 7:41pm

Just found your blog and it is an onteresting read. Also, "Obrigado" actually means thank you!


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