Coaches (from left) Louella Lovely, Robin Davis, and Debbie Brown in front of the National Library in Vienna, Austria.

Recap Of Irish Volleyball's Trip To Europe

May 27, 2005

The Notre Dame women’s volleyball team returned to the United States on Thursday after spending the last two weeks on a four-country trek through Europe. Assistant coach Louella Lovely not only provides an addendum to her diary, but also crafts a summary of the jaunt, including the top memory from each of the players. Check back to for a photo gallery of the sights of Italy.

Wednesday, May 25th

“Our final meeting time for the day was at 7:30 p.m. back at the Hotel Assisi (located near Rome’s Central Train Station). RD [assistant coach Robin Davis] called it a day at 6:00 p.m. and ventured back on the Metro by himself. [Athletic trainer] Chantal [Porter], [deputy director of athletics] Missy [Conboy], and I continued to do some serious shopping. At 7:00 p.m., we needed to start heading back on the Metro, but Missy was convinced that it was only a 10-minute walk back to the hotel from the Trevi Fountain. Twenty-five minutes later, we made it back to the hotel at 7:25 p.m. (dripping sweat) just in time to meet the rest of our group for dinner.

“The last team dinner in Rome was good. [Tour guide] Cory found a quaint restaurant right by our hotel. We had different kinds of pastas and pizzas and some of the girls started talking about their favorite memories from the trip. The coaching staff joked that we would make the girls write Haiku Poems on their favorite city or country and that’s when Missy Conboy started her impromptu Haiku reading. She made them up as she went along and I even got a personal haiku on my obsession with Italian cappuccinos (those are actually lattes in Italy). I think I had about 3-4 cappuccinos a day. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to pack and get some sleep before our 5:45 a.m. departure to the Leonardo da Vinci Airport (Fiumicino).

“That next morning, our team said goodbye and thanks to our tour guides from Bring It USA, Cory and Christa, and left them with plenty of ND gear. We arrived in Chicago yesterday afternoon and were greeted with Chicago traffic for the ride back to South Bend.”

Trip Summary

“We had an amazing trip through Europe. What made it so special was that the girls got to experience so many different cultures and got to see so many historic sights in the various cities. Thirteen days is a long time to be with the same group of people, and it’s just testament to the overall personality of our team and staff. We all got along really well, and we shared a lot of laughs and a plethora of memories. Bring It USA put together a great trip for us through Prague, Vienna, Maribor, Venice, Pesaro, and Rome. Cory Solomon, our main tour guide, provided a lot of insight into the various cultures, cities, and European volleyball.

“Jurka, our Czech Republic tour guide, showed us amazing sights in Prague including Old Town Square, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Hall (the really cool clock), Prague Castle, and St. Vitus’s Cathedral. We happened to be in Prague when the Czech Republic Hockey Team won the World Championship, and even though we didn’t partake in the celebration that took place all night long, we could definitely hear it. In Vienna, we experienced a carriage ride through the city, and saw the grandeur and the legacy of the Hapsburg Dynasty. In Maribor, Slovenia (which was my favorite stop besides Rome), we got to stay at a lodge located at the base of the Pohorje Mountain (they host a Women’s World Cup Skiing event there every year) and got to complete a really challenging ropes course as a team. In Venice, we experienced a city completely surrounded by water and had the opportunity to see one of the most magnificent basilicas in the world, St. Mark’s. In Pesaro, we experienced the European style of beach culture – lounge chairs, umbrellas, and optional clothing. In Rome, we saw so many historical sights like the Colosseum, the Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum including the Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and the Trevi Fountain. It was special to end the trip with the team being announced in the papal audience (in front of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square) and receiving a papal blessing from Pope Benedict. So many great life experiences.

“The opportunities to play volleyball in Europe were tremendous. The team got to compete against two national teams, Czech Republic and Slovenia, as well as top club teams from Maribor, Slovenia, and Ravenna, Italy. The Czechs and the Slovenes were exceptional athletes who put some serious heat on the ball and put up a huge block. For our team to experience that level of play was huge, and I think that each individual on our team gained confidence from making plays against those great teams.

“The learning that took place, not only athletically, but culturally and socially were so valuable to our team. Not only did they learn about other people, but they also learned how the different cultures viewed our society and government. They also had the chance to try to communicate with others despite the language barriers. Our girls made every effort to learn the basic greetings and basic sayings in each country we visited. The team was also split into presentation groups and before we entered a new city, the group had to give a presentation specific to the city – historical significance, sights to see, retail goods specific to the area, architecture (our team now knows the difference between gothic, baroque, and Romanesque styles of architecture), etc.

“The whole experience was awesome and it was great to share all these memories with our team. We asked each player to list her favorite memory of the trip and here’s what they had to say . . .

Lauren Brewster – My favorite memory was when I first excited the subway station in Rome and the Colosseum was right there. It was so unexpected and enormous that it took me by surprise.

Kelly Burrell – My favorite memory of our trip to Europe was when [head coach] Deb [Brown], Ellen [Heintzman] and I climbed to the very top of St. Vitus’s Cathedral in Prague. We climbed up a small, windy staircase. When we got to the top, we could see the entire city. It was an amazing view accentuated by a beautiful day.

Carolyn Cooper – My favorite memory was Ashley [Tarutis], Brew [Lauren Brewster], Aka [Adrianna Stasiuk], RD [assistant coach Robin Davis], and I owning the big pole at the Ropes Course in Maribor.

Ellen Heintzman – My favorite memory of Europe was stepping out into Rome for the first time and beholding the Colosseum and all the history that lies within and beyond its walls … and wandering the streets of Rome (a.k.a. getting lost).

Meg Henican – My favorite part of the trip was Rome in general. I loved getting to experience all that history. It was fun getting to visit the places we’ve studied/read about even though the steps (at the Colosseum) were a little tricky.

Danielle Herndon – My favorite memory in Europe was when Meg [Henican] and I did a cheer for the guards at the Prague Castle. They aren’t supposed to budge or smile, but Meg and I are sure our moves brought a smile and a wink.

Lauren Kelbley – My favorite memory was Meg knocking the tartuffo (chocolate dessert specific to Rome) out of Aka’s hand in the middle of the Piazza Navona, screaming because a street vendor was hiding behind some flags making hissing sounds at us. She got whipped cream all over herself and the whole square was staring at us thinking “stupid Americans.”

Adrianna Stasiuk – My favorite memory was Missy’s ad-lib Haikus at the last dinner in Rome.

Ashley Tarutis – My favorite memory of the trip was walking through Venice and stumbling upon St. Mark’s Square. It’s breathtaking and Danielle [Herndon], Aka, and I sat there for a least an hour.

“We would like to thank everyone who made it possible for us to have this unique experience including:

  • The Notre Dame Athletic Department, especially athletics director Kevin White and deputy athletics director, Missy Conboy – Missy thanks for being safety mom to the whole group.
  • All the ND volleyball alumnae, alumnae parents, and friends of the volleyball program who donated to our trip. Without your generosity, this wouldn’t be possible.
  • The staff at Bring It USA: Cory, Tim, Brook, Jurka, Christa – thanks for putting together an awesome trip.
  • The volleyball support staff – Chantal Porter for taking care of the team on the trip, Bo Rottenborn – for putting the journals and pictures on-line (the parents really enjoyed following the journey), Mike Joseph – for getting the team into great shape (you should have come with us), Megan McGuire for holding on to the traveller’s checks and passports, and Fr. Seetch – for the tickets to the papal audience. Many thanks!

“Hopefully, we’ve thanked everyone, but if we forgot anyone (jet-lag) thank you.

“Dêkuji, Danke, Hvalla Lepa, Grazie, Thank you!

— ND Volleyball”