By Celene Morris and Arlanda Faulkner
North Carolina Central’s volleyball team’s trip to Prague, Czech Republic, this summer allowed the student-athletes to compete against local club teams, exposed them to a foreign culture, and brought the teammates closer together.
From June 25 to July 7, the team stayed at the Sportcentrum Brandys in the Czech Republic, which doubled as a training facility and hotel. They played against two local club teams (Brandys and Babofky), and in a clay court tournament versus five other teams.
When not playing or practicing, the players participated in multiple educational experiences, including a Holocaust tour at the Terezin Concentration Camp, and visits to historic landmarks like the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, celebrated concert venue Smetana Hall and the John Lennon Wall. They also traveled to Germany to watch two professional men’s volleyball matches: Japan versus Germany and Portugal against Poland.
The international trip showed the student-athletes what life is like in a different culture. “It was a huge culture shock for us to see how people in Europe lived,” sophomore setter Celene Morris said. “Air conditioning was used slim to none. The first couple of days and nights were difficult because we never really had to be in the heat constantly. Also, the currency system in the Czech Republic works very different than the way American currency works, and it was hard to get used to what each coin and bill meant.”
Some of the challenges they encountered during their travels, they confronted and overcame together, which they feel brought them closer together as a team.
“The team's chemistry improved a tremendous amount while being in Europe,” Morris said. “While being together all day, every day in a foreign country where no one spoke the same language as us, we were put in different or uncomfortable situations. As a result, we became closer with each other by overcoming those obstacles together. This trip exemplified the true meaning of what it is like to be part of a team.”
Sophomore outside hitter Arlanda Faulkner agrees with her fellow sophomore’s assessment. “This trip allowed the team to grow not only as teammates but as people,” Faulkner said. “We each learned different things about each other, and ourselves. We each faced some struggles and frustrations, but we all learned at the end of the day you are never alone in the fight you must face.”
Faulkner returned from Prague with a different perspective on life. “Appreciate the little things, enjoy the moment, embrace adversity, overcome obstacles, have an abundance of patience for the world, and love endlessly.”
Watch the video https://youtu.be/w_r5snwm5rA.