Carolyn Cooper (shown here with one of the Prague Castle guards) tells of jumping over sand mounds and an overheated bus in her diary.

Final Volleyball Diaries Describe Roman Adventures

May 26, 2005

The final destination on the Notre Dame women’s volleyball team’s four-country European tour was Rome, Italy. Rising senior Carolyn Cooper (Houston, Texas/Lutheran South Academy) and assistant coach Louella Lovely took time to describe the group’s time there, which included much sightseeing and receiving a papal blessing from Pope Benedict XVI. After spending Tuesday and Wednesday in Rome, the Irish headed back to the United States on Thursday.

Check back to for a recap of the team’s trip, written by Lovely, as well as a photo gallery of the sights of Italy.

Tuesday, May 24th – by Carolyn Cooper

“Today was our last morning in Pesaro. We started our day early with a [assistant coach] Robin Davis beach workout. RD, equipped with pistachios in both pockets, had us build sand mounds and jump over them in his attempt to copy the famed [strength & conditioning coach] Micheal Joseph workouts. After our run, we loaded up the bus and headed to Rome. Halfway there our bus overheated, and we sat on the side of the road until it cooled. We then completed our journey at 30-miles-an-hour.

“When we finally reached Rome, we went straight into some serious sightseeing. We started with the Colosseum. The Colosseum is a famed ancient sports arena – think of the movie `Gladiator.’ Inside, the steps proved to be to much for Meg [Henican]. She fell down one set, seemed to try to get up, and then continued to fall down a second flight. She also had a rough time with some ice cream later in the day. After the Colosseum, we ventured to the Forum. The Forum holds the monumental remains of the city’s most important temple, as well as baths and smaller temples. We ended our sightseeing for the day at the Trevi Fountain. This well-known fountain with marble sea creatures is one of the city’s most exciting sights. That’s all from Rome today.

Go Irish

Carolyn Cooper


Wednesday, May 25th – by Assistant Coach Louella Lovely

“Day two in Rome started really early. We had to be ready to go by 7:45 in order to get to Vatican City. Father [Bill] Seetch [of Notre Dame] got us tickets to the Papal Audience – held every Wednesday at the Vatican. Usually, it is held in the Papal chamber, but today it was held in Piazza di San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square). Our tour guide, Cory, was hoping that we could get to the Vatican early enough to see the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel before we attended the papal audience, but that was not in the cards.

“Our ride to the Vatican was extremely interesting. We had to take the Metro, and Cory warned us that the Metro could be a little overwhelming. I think Rome is one of the most challenging places to take the Metro. At times there are so many people pushing to get on and off the train. We were literally squeezed like sardines into the train. Since we had about 20 in our group, it was going to be tough to stay together. Most of the group made it to the Vatican on the first couple of trains, but Ellen Heintzman and Megan McGuire (our manager) got off a stop too early. It looked like we wouldn’t meet up with them until our second meeting time of the day, but they were able to find our group at the entrance to the Vatican.

“The papal audience began at 10:30, and we were in our seats in the square by 9:30. It was a little on the hot side, so the umbrellas we brought in case of rain were used for shade. The square really began to fill up, and by the time the Pope rode into the square, there were thousands cheering. The Pope spoke several languages to greet everyone. There was an English-speaking priest who recognized several groups, parishes, pilgrims, etc., who were from various countries. When he got to the United States, he mentioned “The Women’s Volleyball Team from the University of Notre Dame.” Our team cheered very loud, and we got a papal blessing from Pope Benedict. It was a very cool experience to be part of, and we all thank Father Seetch for making it possible for our group to have that unique experience on our trip.

“After that, we all split into groups to explore the city for the second day. My group from the first day included [assistant coach] Robin Davis and [athletic trainer] Chantal Porter, as well as Meg Henican, Ashley Tarutis, Adrianna Stasiuk and Lauren Kelbley. We hit the ground running yesterday, and we were able to see many sights, including Rome’s central train station, the Colosseo, Circo Massimo (where they used to hold the chariot races), The Campidigloi (the civic seat of Rome), the National Museum, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. This is my second time in Rome, so I functioned as a tour guide of sorts for my group. I was rewarded with gelato at the end of the day.

“Today, RD [assistant coach Robin Davis], Chantal and I decided to see a few things and shop. After St. Peter’s Square, we headed into the Vatican Museum to see the Raphael rooms and the Sistine Chapel. The Raphael rooms leading into the Sistine Chapel are absolutely breathtaking – some think they rival the Sistine, but I just think the Sistine Chapel is so amazing. After that, we headed down the Via Cola Di Rienzo and the Via del Corso to do some serious shopping. We met up with another serious shopper, [deputy athletics director] Missy Conboy, who was wandering from store to store on Via Cola di Rienzo, and we ended the afternoon with Rome’s best Gelato from St. Cripin’s by the Trevi Fountain.

“I’ll write about the last team dinner tomorrow since I have only 30 seconds left on my time at this internet café!”