As part of our new WinForever Ambassador Program, we are highlighting individuals who are competing every day. Nicole Davis, Two-time Olympic Games Silver Medalist for USA Volleyball, is now playing professionally in Germany. She sent over an update on her success and how she is a growing–both as a person and a competitor–overseas.
Here’s Nicole’s blog post:
Germany is not necessarily known for its volleyball. Normally, when we hear the term “Bundesliga”, as Americans, we think of the professional soccer or basketball leagues in Germany. Although, their National Team did not qualify for the Olympics, Germany is ranked 10th in the world, and certainly has had a lot of success in the last six years as the sport continues to grow in their country.
Following the London Olympics, I had not signed a contract for the upcoming professional season—there was nothing available for me at the time. In December, when I received a message from an agent that an option was open in Dresden—for one of the top two teams in the league—I jumped at the chance to go play some “real” volleyball.
In September, after some time to reflect on the London Olympics, and the last few years, I sat down and I wrote the following as one my goals for the next four years, looking toward the 2016 Olympics: continue to improve and be the best me! Of course, that’s a little vague. So when I sat down and dissected what that really meant, it boils down to how I get better at the game of volleyball, from a technical standpoint, and from a mental standpoint, and what steps I need to take to head in the right direction. So I went back to work and started training one-on-one with my head coach, Karch Kiraly, and my strength trainer, Tim Pelot, in our facility in Anaheim, California. I had a productive training block until the end of the year when I signed this contract.
In retrospect, it was nice to have that time away from the demands of competing. I was able to decompress and regenerate a plan and hit the ground running with a new perspective. Before I left the States, I was working on cleaning up some technical deficiencies that I have had in the past couple of years, as well as exploring some concepts with Karch related to the mental aspect of the game—both on a personal level, as well as that, which relates to our team dynamic.
Karch is the greatest player to every play the game, and he has been such a good resource for us to learn from, because he has a way with making his own experiences resonate with you. In the weight room, Tim and I were laying down the groundwork for having a strong, stable and efficient athletic platform. Post-London provided the best timing to allow us to revisit movement habits that we typically do not have time for when I have to run off right away to another team and start competing.
We often say that matches are our scarcest resource. As athletes, we spend the bulk of our time training for games relative to the number of games we actually play in each year. It’s difficult to replicate real match speed, and situations that occur at random in games, during training sessions. So, for me, this particular opportunity to play in Germany is a chance to not only learn and get better at playing volleyball, but to continue the work I did in the gym and in the weight room before I left the United States—in a different environment.
I have a young and talented team here in Dresden. This provides new challenges for me in terms of my role on the team, my sphere of influence and my ability to impact the group. I see and analyze the game a little differently than my teammates, due to my experience and background with the national team. I am trying to balance finding ways to elevate the play of those around me, with playing well myself, and staying focused on what I control.
We have played four matches since I arrived, and won three of the four. Our loss came to the team that we should eventually play for the championship at the end of the season, in May. My team had some injuries prior to my arrival, and it just feels like not all of the pieces to the puzzle have fit yet. I definitely think we have the talent to compete and win the championship this season. Time will tell how much change we can create in the next couple of months, and how much we can grow as a group during that time.
The goal is always to find ways to improve each day, not waste a contact, and be patient with the process. Again, this is such a good environment to face those challenges. I’m out of my comfort zone in some respects, and I’m constantly fighting some old inner demons to gain more control and learning to celebrate every brief spurt of progress that comes my way. I also know that having balance in my life is important.
Nicole understands what it takes to compete at the highest level and she is taking advantage of a unique opportunity to learn and grow daily. Within the new Always Compete Program, we teach you how to learn about yourself and live your life around it to maximize your own potential.
If you’d like to learn more about WinForever, develop your own personal philosophy and are ready to take the next step to maximize your potential, sign up here to Join the WinForever Movement.
Thanks to Winforever.com for giving Nicole the chance to share her post-Olympic life!
(images: zimbio.com & usavolleyball.tumblr.com)