Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back To Work....

Well it was great spending time with the family in North Carolina for Christmas but now it is time to get back to work. I wish I would have had more time since I haven't seen that side of the family in two years but with this lifestyle you take what you can get.

Looking forward to getting back to Brazil to play. My boyfriend, Steve, will be coming with me up until February. He truly helps me since I will be away from home. My goal in Brazil is to win the Super League, extend my modeling career, and get my clothing line off the ground. Modeling has been a dream of mine ever since I started sketching clothes in the 4th grade. I figured if I can sketch it might as well make them and wear them. Clothing line I have out at the moment is athletic apparel called "D-Hook" with Rox Volleyball Inc but I am going to branch off and create my own casual up scale line. Should be fun. Plan on launching it after the Olympic games next summer. 

Modeling is completely different then designing clothes. You have to be comfortable with your body as well as those around you. At first I was really nervous but I worked with people I trusted so it made it a little easier. Every time I look at my portfolio I am in awe with how much I have grown. I am looking forward to doing run way one day. That is the ultimate goal. 

                                                                                                          My First Shoot Ever

                                                                                                           My Shoot in Italy

                                                                                                          Birthday Shoot 2011

                                                                                                            DIG Magazine

                                                                                                        Multiple Couple Shoots

All these photos were fun but you can tell which ones I was comfortable in. I pray God allows me to continue my modeling career and allows me to get my clothing line going strong. Modeling of course is my life outside of volleyball. Volleyball takes up most of my time but at the same time I am not complaining because I have learned so much and I am able to excel faster. 

It's really sad how many people doubt me as an athlete and as a person but it's only because they don't know anything about me. I can remember being told that the only reason I was on varsity was because I was tall. Even worse when you finish high school you will be working like the rest of us you will never be nothing. All the negative have come my way. I take it as a positive as well as motivation. No matter how much I succeed there will always be that handful that will try to bring me down. God has truly blessed me and I can not wait to give back to my community as well as all those little girls who are going through struggles. That time is coming I can feel it. God Bless Everyone.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chirstmas Eve....

Hello everyone! I am here in Saxapahaw, North Carolina spending Christmas with my family. I love this time of year. So much love is in the air.  Every Christmas Eve like I mentioned before is filled with God, food, presents, family, and games. This was a little different. I was added to the adult game lol. Last time they played "Dirty Santa" I was watching. Felt great to finally play.

There was so many gifts this year lol. Not that I'm complaining. Compared to only having 12 adults play there was 20. So I decided to take a picture of them up close and personal. :)

I had to choose three gifts total because my aunt and uncle took my first and second choice. :( It made it more interesting though lol. I ended up getting a North Carolina hoodie. My whole family was like "she doesn't even like North Carolina." Thats because I went to Texas but I figured I could give it to someone else as a gift. ha ha My aunt on the other hand got a TEXAS snuggie. She put it on proudly. I managed to take a picture of it.  Isn't she cute?

Only thing I love more then playing volleyball is my Aunt Adrian's red velvet cake. Every time I see her I have to ask if she is going to make it. Without it a meal would be incomplete. One day I am going to ask her for her recipe. That is definitely something that needs to be passed on.  Before the dinner we took our family photos. Which is another "routine" we do every Christmas Eve.  Our family sure has grown beautifully and thats a blessing in itself.  

All the ladies in our family can cook. The men usually lounge around and watch the game. My Uncle Kevin either prepares snow crab legs or oysters. The oysters I can do with out lol. This year, sadly, he prepared oysters. My father and Uncle Carnell helped him.  Have to admit I enjoy watching the process. It's quite entertaining. I honestly didn't know the whole process behind it. It was more entertaining watching my Uncle Carnell's reaction after eating an oyster for the first time. It was priceless.

What started this whole day off right was seeing my uncle and aunts wearing "Got Hooker?" T-shirts. Put a smile on my face. Nothing like support from your family.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's CHRISTmas Time.......

Hello everyone. Today my family and I went Christmas shopping. Every Christmas Eve the family gets together for a party and we exchange gifts. The gift exchange is done by playing Dirty Santa.

Rules of the game
  1. In one of the popular versions of the game any number of people can participate. Each participant is asked to bring along a gift worth no more than a few dollars (generally within $30).
  2. The unwritten rule of the game is that the gifts are not bought but are items that one finds lying around the house or the garage, things that are valuable but for which you have found no use.
  3. Each player picks out a number from a hat and according to his or her number gets a crack at picking a gift.
  4. The person who picks the first gift opens it to show it to the rest of the company. Then number two picks a gift and after unwrapping it either keeps it or swaps it with number one.
  5. The game goes on till everyone has had their chance and then finally number one gets to either keep their original gift or swap it with anything else they like.
When the game is over we eat the dinner that is provided and mingle. The cutest thing is watching my little cousins parade around looking forward to Santa's visit. A few of them write Christmas list and they give them to their parents hoping they will get it to Santa. :) I remember when I was younger and I would ask my Dad to help me make cookies for Santa. Sometimes I would sit up waiting for Santa to come. Somethings still remain the same even as time goes on.

All this talk about Santa Claus and presents is cute but do you know the true meaning of Christmas? In case you didn't catch it. The word "CHRIST" in the title is in all caps compared to the rest of the word. That is because Jesus was born during that time. Sometimes I feel people fail to realize the true meaning of Christmas because they are blinded by the presents and Santa.  All children know is Rudolph the red nose reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, and Christmas presents. At the same time it's expected. 

It honestly took me a while to understand what my parents were telling me. Before we would play "Dirty Santa" my Memaw would have us read a scripture coming from Luke. 

Luke 2: 1-7 :

2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to register all the empire for taxes. 2 This was the first registration, taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3Everyone went to his own town to be registered.4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him, and who was expecting a child.6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
This is what Dad told me when I was younger: 

-"God sent his son Jesus as our Savior. He was born in a manger to show that everybody was able to have Him as our Savior."

I enjoy Christmas because not only does it deal with God but it allows my family to come together. Just thought I would express how I felt about Christmas. I love my family and I am thankful for all my little cousins. They can't wait for Christmas Eve and neither can I. Happy Holidays everyone and God Bless. Until next time. :) 

                                           My Sister and I with a few of our little cousins :)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Family Time.....

Hello everyone. I'm here safe and sound in North Carolina for the Christmas holidays. I haven't seen this side of the family since 2009 when we played Penn St for the NCAA Championship game.

My sister just got in about an hour ago and I must admit I have missed her. Even though I just saw my sister in November for Thanksgiving ha ha. The biggest surprise was seeing my cousin, Antoine. He had been stationed in Okinawa, Japan for a year and a half. Nothing like seeing a family member who has served for the USA.


Antoine and I

So many memories in North Carolina. Been coming here for Christmas ever since I was a little girl. Seeing everyone grown up brings tears to my eyes. Have a cousin who is married with a daughter and she's expecting another one in June :). My lovely grandparents on my father's side (memaw and pawpaw) have started a BEAUTIFUL family.

My Memaw and Pawpaw

Family Photo

Great family and still growing lol. This picture was taken in 2006. Imagine how far we have come since then. All I can say is never take FAMILY TIME for granted. I cherish it every chance I get.  I am truly looking forward to Christmas :)

Here is a picture of my immediate family.......

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What it takes to be a GREAT hitter.....

I always get asked, "What do you do to jump high or what do you do to hit so hard? A better question is "what does it take to be a great hitter?" I often ask myself that. I have to say it truly is a blessing to play amongst the best volleyball players in the world.

Playing with a few of the veterans, Logan Tom, Heather Bown, Danielle Scott-Arruda, Tayyiba Haneef-Park, Lindsey Berg, Stacy Sykora, and Nicole Davis have opened my eyes to play the game of volleyball differently. You would think the harder you hit the ball the better off you will be but there is more to it.

Great hitters have good ball placement, range, good footwork, elevation, multiple shot selections, a good arm-swing, and last but not least they maintain a healthy body with a strong core. All are very important when making contact with the ball. You learn from your mistakes and start to build a volleyball IQ. Karch Kirarly and Logan Tom are two players I love to watch. They have so many skills when it comes to attacking. It leaves me speechless at times.

You also have to take into consideration certain pressure and frustration. Let's be honest we all hate getting blocked or hitting out of bounds. Most of us think hitting the next ball you receive as hard as you can will solve everything. That's where you're wrong. Good ball placement as well as different shot selections come into play. As a hitter you have to know what you are up against (defensively) and when you can hit the ball hard.

Playing on the USA volleyball has really helped me take my game to the next level. It also helped getting feedback from the coaches and my teammates. I have gotten tips from Logan, Heather, Tayyiba, and even Nicole. Each has helped me in different occasions. No matter what the outcome of the game is as long as you left it all out on the floor you have nothing to feel bad about. I do my best to fulfill that feeling every game.

Great hitters NEVER settle and they play to be the BEST. The play to master the game.
   - Take the time to get better
   - Learn from others
   - Listens to feedback
   - Practice and train hard

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Journey

People seem to feel that volleyball is my life. Not even close. As much time I put in volleyball I try my hardest to live life outside of it. I remember being bullied in middle and high school because of my height and race.  My mother always told me to stand up straight and be proud of your height. Overtime I had learned to carry my self accordingly. That is where my journey began.  I started playing volleyball when I was thirteen, but at the same time I had other sports surrounding me. Basketball was at the top of the list, track and field was second, and sadly volleyball was last.

It's true what people say "Time flies when you're having fun!" I can't recall how many times I wish I could go back to high school and get on the basketball court with my teammates and start all over again. Hustle and Heart is what my high school coach would tell me. I have stuck by those two words until this day.

From high school I continued my route with volleyball and track at the University of Texas in Austin. All I can remember was winning the high jump as a freshman and a NCAA Championship. Volleyball was a blur. It was to up and down for me. I was told "since I didn't play club I don't think you will be playing all 6 rotations." So I spent my first two years subbing out after and sometimes before I served. Even though I knew I was capable of being a 6 rotation player. That later changed my junior and senior year. Became a 2-Time first team All-American, Co-MVP of the 2009 NCAA Championship, Longhorn of the Year, Big 12 Athlete of the Year and more.  All that was because I had faith in God and continued to play with heart. Nothing's as bad as it seems. It's all on what you allow.

Right after the match vs Penn State for the 2009 NCAA Championship. I went overseas and started playing professionally. I played in Korea with a team called GS Caltex. From there I went to Puerto Rico  with Corozal Pinkin where we won were crowned Champions. I had also received the MVP award.

After that experience. I was asked to come to California to be on the USA National team. My first appearance since 2008. I wasn't a strong fan of USA volleyball. I just didn't trust the system. It is completely different now. I love the coaching staff as well as my teammates. After hard work the USA team won the 2010 WGP but finished fourth at World Champs.

In September of 2010 I got endorsed by Rox Volleyball Inc. For those of you haven't heard of Rox I suggest you go to the website. www.roxvolleyball.com. I am sure you will love what you see. My contract with Rox goes until August of 2012. A lot of work to do but I am thankful for the opportunity to  work with them. It has been really fun so far.

I took my professional career to Pesaro, Italy with Scavolini. Which unfortunately ended quickly. There I suffered a tear in my left lateral meniscus and returned home to have surgery. I had played in a few matches. The team had made it to Champions League which was held in Istanbul. Sadly the team didn't do well.  I had my surgery March 17th 2011. I was told I would need 8 weeks to fully recover. Talk about depression, frustration, and other emotions mixed in. I wasn't going to let it defeat me. As my Memaw would tell me "This too will pass". She was right. Before you knew it I was on the court serving, hitting, and passing. It only took me 5 weeks. God is so good and I am thankful.

After my surgery my first competition was the 2011 World Grand Prix. USA won the gold for the second year in a row. I received MVP. Not bad for my first debut after surgery. Later on November USA went to Japan for the World Cup also known as OLYMPIC Qualifiers. USA went in with a mission and accomplished it. We placed second and I received Best Spiker of that tournament. My journey with USA Volleyball has been really successful I pray USA will bring home the gold in London.

As of now I am currently playing in Brazil with Sollys Nestle.  A team in Osasco. I have fallen in love with the team. They are very kind to me there. A bonus is the weather is HOT. ha ha. Can not wait to get back January 3rd. So far the Super League has been going and we are undefeated. Pray that we keep it that way. Final game is April 14th and Sollys plans on being one of those teams. :)

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