PictureThumbs up for volei
Off the plane and 24 hours later I’m here.. In Brazil.. In Maringa.. but with no luggage haha. Luckily, my ride was a very attentive and intelligent woman named Maria who spoke perfect English and was able to sort out the mess and get me on my way, with my luggage coming the next day.

Next stop was the team office, where I was able to meet a couple people associated with the team as well as Ricardinho’s mother-in-law, Carmem, who fed me right away with a delicious sample of the local fruit known to the south of Brazil. After my short meal, I was off and said my goodbyes, to be driven to practice with the team’s public relation head, named Johnny who spoke great English as well, letting me pick his brain about different Portuguese words. We were able to catch the end of the practice and as I took in the team gym, I took in a facility that is 2nd only to the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach. It was unreal, regarding the depth perception, replicating a dome, in one look knowing even with a kick, I could not reach the ceiling (a libero’s dream). And I was able to have my first meal, beans and rice!

PictureBeans and rice. Let's go!
I was quickly introduced to the team and then whisked away, to be checked into my hotel so I could eat once again (beans, rice and veggies) and hibernate as long as I could until the next morning. 

The morning came and 6am was 2am (back in California) so I properly hydrated myself with as much coffee as I could and was off to serve and pass by the car of my first new friend, one of the 4 assistant coaches, who’s nickname is Kiko, pronounced “Key-koo”. A big smile and a warm handshake began the car ride as he told me is aspiration to learn English, my rebuttal with my goal of speaking Portuguese. So with our trip under way, we agreed that we would help each other out with the thought of only speaking the foreign language to each other and letting the trial under fire guide our passion for speaking a new language.

The local warmth continued as I meet the 3 other passers that would train with me; Renato, Renan and Cleber. Cleber and Renato both older, guided me through the training both surprising me with amazing English, as we worked side to side receiving first floats and then spins from the machine, without a second wasted in one of the most efficient and footwork paced morning practices.

PictureClosest thing to a pyramid. The DOME!
After our training concluded, I was off with Cleber to meet the rest of the team (setters, opposites and middles) concluding their workout with our strength and fitness coach Flavio or “Flav”. As they left for their group volleyball training we began in this amazing 3 story complex, that the team bought, resembling a smaller 24 hour fitness.  After our workout, we meet back up with the opposites, setters and middles at a local university café for an amazing meal, scooping up the local fruit, veggies and again.. rice and beans.

Back to the hotel for a couple hours to rest, stretch and get on my Rossetta stone and I was ready to go again for training. My fire  was there but my mind was back in California, speaking English, if not French my mind was playing tricks on me. It was great though, efficient with a high volume and was able to get to know the other players first hand.

With the first day down and happy, excited and of course very tired. Can’t wait for day number 2, whatever happens, I know I will grind it out, finding ways to get better each day and to help this team make a huge impact in the Brazilian league this year. So happy to be here in Brazil and to be apart of the family here in Maringa.


Diogo Aguilar
08/15/2013 7:09am

Hi Dustin. I'm the receptionist at your hotel and as a big fan of volley like to give you a warm welcome to Maringá. We all will be there to support the new team formed by the great Ricardinho. Success!


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