Cody Reads: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Cody Reads Volume # 3: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

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Man’s Search for Meaning is the most powerful and important book I have ever read. In it, Frankl chronicles his experiences as a Nazi death camp inmate in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

Drawing on his direct experience of one of the darkest moments in human history, as well as his life and work after, Frankl discusses what it means to live a meaningful life.

As the back cover reads, “Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward…[he finds] that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful…[his memoir] continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living.”

I will revisit this book throughout my life. Perhaps the excerpts below will also change your life or outlook. But ultimately, they are a bit lacking without the rest of the surrounding story and text. For the complete experience, please rent the book from a library, borrow it from a friend, buy it from Amazon, just acquire it somehow and READ IT.

To this day, it leaves me awestruck, inspired, disgusted, proud, ignited, refreshed, at a complete loss for words, and ultimately guides some of my most intimate and spiritual beliefs. It is not a “perfect” book, but it has changed my life more than any other.

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Some of Frankl’s experiences in the camp “…offer sufficient proof  that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms– to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

“Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him– mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp. Dostoevski said once, ‘There is only one thing that I dread, not to be worthy of my sufferings.'”

“The way in which man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity– even under the most difficult circumstances– to add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified, and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation, he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether or not he is worthy of his sufferings or not.”

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I had many other excerpts highlighted to share with you (this book is chock full of potentially life-changing passages), but they lacked the same punch and impact as when they are read naturally along with the rest of the story. Ultimately, this exercise in taking quotes out of great books is giving me pause. So, please, if you enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) this post, or if it moved you in some other way, please give me feedback with a comment or email me. I am not sure I will continue with this series because it slightly cheapens the entire book experience…I only hope that it leads to you reading this masterpiece of human experience!

Love, Cody

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Cody Reads: Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson

Cody Reads Volume #2: Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior by Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His reputation was established as head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 through 1998 during which Chicago won six NBA titles. (Sacred Hoops was published in 1995.) His next team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won five NBA titles from 2000 to 2010.

Below are a series of choice excerpts from the book:

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On Systems and Selfless Play

“The relationship between a coach and his players is often fraught with tension because the coach is constantly critiquing each player’s performance and trying to get him to change his behavior. Having a clearly defined set of principles to work with reduces conflict because it depersonalizes the criticism. The players understand that you’re not attacking them personally when you correct a mistake, but only trying to improve their knowledge of a system. Learning that system is a demanding, often tedious process that takes years to master. The key is a repetitive series of drills that train the players, on an experiential level as well as an intellectual one, to move ‘like five fingers on a hand’…not everyone reaches this point. Some players’ self-centered conditioning is so deeply rooted they can’t make that leap. But for those who can, a subtle shift in consciousness occurs.

The beauty of the system is that it allows players to experience another, more powerful form of motivation than ego-gratification. Most rookies arrive in the NBA thinking that what will make them happy is having unlimited freedom to strut their egos on national TV. But that approach to the game is an inherently empty experience. What makes basketball so exhilarating is the joy of losing yourself completely in the dance, even if it’s just for one beautiful transcendent moment. That’s what the system teaches players. There’s a lot of freedom built into the process…the freedom is shaping a role for yourself and using all of your creative resources to work in unison with others.”

CK: This is what team sports are all about. I’m lucky to be at a club with an exceptional coach who has and enforces systems of play, and where we chase these moments of transcendence as a team alongside our many supporters. 

Spiritual Lessons from the Lakota Sioux

“Lakota warriors had a deep reverence for the mysteries of life. That’s where their power, and sense of freedom, came from. It was no coincidence that Crazy Horse, the greatest Sioux warrior, was first and foremost a holy man. To the Lakota, everything was sacred, even the enemy, because of their belief in the interconnectedness of all life. As one seer put it: ‘We are earth people on a spiritual journey to the stars. Our quest, our earth walk, is to look within, to know who we are, to see that we are connected to all things, that there is no separation, only in the mind.’ 

The Lakota didn’t perceive of the self as a separate entity, isolated from the rest of the universe. The stones they carved into arrowheads, the buffalo they hunted, the Crow warriors they battles, were all seen as reflections of themselves. Black Elk wrote in The Sacred Pipe, ‘Peace…comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere. It is within each of us. 

The Lakotas’ concept of teamwork was deeply rooted in their view of the universe. A warrior didn’t try to stand out from his fellow band members; he strove to act bravely and honorably, to help the group in whatever way he could to accomplish its mission. If glory befell him, he was obligated to give away his most prized possessions to relatives, friends, the poor, and the aged. As a result, the leaders of the tribe were often its poorest members.” 

On Stillness and Meditation

“Little by little, with regular practice [of awareness of breath meditation], you start to discriminate raw sensory events from your reactions to them. Eventually, you begin to experience a point of stillness within. As the stillness becomes more stable, you tend to identify less with fleeting thoughts and feelings, such as fear, anger, or pain, and experience a state of inner harmony, regardless of changing circumstances. For me, meditation is a tool that allows me to stay calm and centered (well, most of the time) during the stressful highs and lows of basketball and life outside the arena….even those players who drift off during meditation practice get the basic point: awareness is everything.”

CK: Thanks to different mentors of mine, I have developed and maintained a mindfulness practice that continues to pay huge dividends in all areas of my life. It creates a space for me between stimulus and response where I am free to decide how I will react. 

Professional Play

“Basketball is a form of play, of course, but it’s easy for players to lose sight of this because of the pressures of the job. As a result, my primary goal during practice is to get the players to reconnect with the intrinsic joy of the game. Some of our most exhilarating moments as a team come at these times. That’s certainly true for Jordan, who loves practice, especially the scrimmages, because it’s pure basketball, nothing extra.”

CK: I consider myself lucky to have been a part of many gyms (including now with SVG) where this is a focus. 

“…the true measure of a star was his ability to make the people around him look good. Jordan still needed to learn that lesson.”

CK: When Karch Kiraly was asked why he was named the best volleyball player in the first 100 years of the sport, he mentioned his focus, preparation, effort, etc. but he also said that he was exceptional at making those around him better. In sand doubles, indoor sixes, or just as a human being, that’s a great life goal. 

A Healthy, Mature Perspective on Winning and Losing

“Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I’m doing. I get unhappy when my mind begins to wander, during wins as well as losses. Sometimes a well-played defeat will make me feel better than a victory in which the team doesn’t feel especially connected.

This hasn’t always been the case. As a young player, winning meant everything to me. My sense of self-worth rose and fell depending on my personal performance and how my team stacked up…”

CK: I think this is the case for any athlete who defines themselves first as an athlete as I did when I was younger. For a great video breakdown of the problems with this approach, or with those like me who struggle with perfectionism at times, see this video: Person over Player

Jackson again:

“My obsession with winning had robbed me of my joy in the dance. From that point on, I started looking at competition differently. I realized that I’d been trapped for years on an emotional roller coaster of winning and losing, and it was tearing me apart. 

I wasn’t alone. Our whole social structure is built around rewarding winners, at the perilous expense of forsaking community and compassion. The conditioning starts early, especially among boys, and never stops. ‘There is no room for second place,’ the late coach Vince Lombardi once said. ‘It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win and to win and to win.’ How can anyone, from sports figures to entrepreneurs, possibly maintain their self-esteem when this attitude dominates our cultural mindset?

Eventually, everybody loses, ages, changes. And small triumphs– a great play, a moment of true sportsmanship- count, even though you may not win the game. Walt Whitman got it right when he wrote, ‘I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.’ As strange as it may seem, being able to accept change or defeat with equanimity gives you the freedom to go out on the floor and give the game your all.

I used to believe that the day I could accept defeat was the day I would have to give up my job. But losing is as integral a part of the dance as winning. Buddhism teaches us that be accepting death, you discover life. Similarly, only by acknowledging the possibility to defeat can you fully experience the joy of competition. Our culture would have us believe that being able to accept loss is tantamount to setting yourself up to lose. But not everyone can win all the time; obsessing about winning adds an unnecessary layer of pressure that constricts body and spirit and, ultimately, robs you of the freedom to do your best.” 

CK: Certainly in my first professional season in  Switzerland, at times I let the pressure of competition and performing outweigh the pleasure of getting to compete and play a game I love. 

What is So Sacred About Hoops (or Volleyball)?

“…That’s when I come alive: on the basketball court. As the game unfolds, time slows down and I experience the blissful feeling of being totally engaged in the action…That’s when you realize that basketball is a game, a journey, a dance- not a fight to the death. It’s life just as it is.”

 

If you enjoyed these excerpts, or they inspired you or made you think, please share the blog and/or comment below.

If you’re interested in reading the book in its entirety, you can buy Sacred Hoops for yourself by following this link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cody Reads: Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

Cody Reads Volume #1: Tools of Titans 

Tools of Titans

Hello all,

In my downtime and travel time as a professional athlete, I have the luxury of reading a lot of books.  

For those of you that don’t have that luxury, I am going to begin sharing some of my favorite chunks of books I have read in the past few years. 

Up first? Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss, an amazing amalgamation of interviews from 200+ world-class performers. (Ferriss’ commentary denoted by TF: my own by CK: 

Don’t Overestimate the People on Pedestals

“Get inside the heads of the people who made things in the past and what the were actually like, and then realize that they’re not that different you. At the time they got started, they were kind of just like you…so there’s nothing stopping any of the rest of us from doing the same thing.”  -Marc Andreessen

TF: Both Marc and Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, have read and recommended Neal Gabler’s biography of Walt Disney. Marc also mentioned a Steve Jobs quote in our conversation, which is printed in full below. It as recorded in a 1995 interview conducted by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association, while Jobs was still at NeXT:

“Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call ‘life’ was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

CK:  For more stories and interviews from modern-day people who have made things, see Guy Raz’s How I Built This podcast. The other co-founder of Airbnb, Joe Gebbia, gives a great interview on the August 28, 2017 episode. It’s fun to remember that a mere ten years ago people would have thought the entire concept of Airbnb was absolutely nuts (some still do). Airbnb was recently valued at $31 billion. 

Loving Thoughts

“In many of my public talks, I guide a very simple 10-second exercise. I tell the audience members to each identify two human beings in the room and just think “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.” That is it…Everybody emerges from this exercise smiling, happier than 10 seconds before. This is the joy of loving-kindness. It turns out that being on the giving end of kind thoughts is rewarding in and of itself.

I tend to do a single 3- to 5- minute session at night, thinking of three people I want to be happy, often two current friends and one friend I haven’t seen in years. This loving-kindness drill takes the focus off of you entirely – which, for me, immediately resolves at least 90% of the mental chatter.”

A Focus on “Me”= Suffering 

“This brain inside our heads is a 2-million-year-old brain…It’s ancient, old survival software that is running you a good deal of time. Whenever you’re suffering, that survival software is there. The reason you’re suffering is you’re focused on yourself. …Suffering comes from three thought patterns, loss, less, never.” – Tony Robbins

CK: There are other forms of suffering, certainly. But this can be very powerful for many of life’s worries.

“And I think ultimately, sometimes when we judge other people, it’s just a way to not look at ourselves; a way to feel superior or sanctimonious or whatever. My trauma therapist said everytime you meet someone, just in your head, say ‘I love you’ before you have a conversation with them, and that conversation is going to go a lot better.” -Whitney Cummings

On Action

“What you know doesn’t mean shit. What do you do consistently?” -Tony Robbins

“Perfectionism leads to procrastination, which leads to paralysis.” – Whitney Cummings

“Robustness is when you care more about the few who like your work than the multitude who hate it (artists); fragility is when you care more about the few who hate your work than the multitude who love it (politicians).”

Choose to be robust.

On Purpose

“If [someone] gave you $1 billion, how would you spend it besides the parties and Ferraris and so forth? If I asked you to spend $1 billion on improving the world, solving a problem, what would you pursue?” – Peter Diamandis

TF: Still struggling with a sense of purpose or mission? Roughly half a dozen people in this book have suggested the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Naval Ravikant on Happiness and Perspective

“The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a choice that you make and a skill that you develop. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles.”

“If you study even the smallest bit of science, you will realize that, for all practical purposes, we are nothing. We’re basically monkeys on a small rock orbiting a small star in a huge galaxy, which is in an absolutely staggeringly gigantic universe, which itself may be part of a gigantic multiverse.

This universe has been around for probably 10 billion years or more and will be around for tens of billion years afterward. So your existence, my existence, is just infinitesimal. It’s like a firefly blinking once in the night. Nothing that we do lasts. Eventually, you will fade, your works will fade, your children will fade, your thoughts will fade, this planet will fade, the sun will fade…it will all be gone.

There are entire civilizations that we remember now with just one or two words like ‘Sumerian’ or ‘Mayan.’ Do you know any Sumerians or Mayana? Do you hold any of them in high regard or esteem? Have they outlived their natural lifespan somehow? No.

If you don’t believe in an afterlife, then you [should realize] that this is such a short and precious life, it is really important that you don’t spend it being unhappy. There is no excuse for spending most of your life in misery. You’ve only got 70 years of the 50 billion or however long the universe is going to be around.” 

CK:  A sobering (and some would likely say depressing) way to remember. But I think Naval makes a strong point here to remind us how precious our lives are.

If you enjoyed or have thoughts about this post please share, and/or comment below! Is Tools of Titans a book you would like to read in its entirety? I highly recommend it and find it easy to revisit and get value from. 

Comment or email me and let me know what books you would like to see in upcoming issues of Cody Reads!

On Becoming, not Comparing

I consider myself very lucky to have been raised in the US and to have had so much exposure and interaction with so many great players, coaches, and personalities in our sport.

Recently, I heard a SANDCAST podcast interview with Taylor Crabb. I’ve admired Taylor for a long time for his approach to the game, the skills he has developed and earned, his fun-loving and down-to-earth nature, and the way he remains a great athlete and fierce competitor. He has quite the volleyball pedigree, but he has been a student of the game for a long time and has earned his many accolades.

Something Taylor said in that interview has stuck with me these past weeks and I wanted to share it with everyone. At some point when asked about his relationship on and off the court with his older brother, Trevor, Taylor said:

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“I have a lot of goals in life. Not one of them is to be better than somebody else.”

Woah. I just love that. Especially coming from someone who makes his living technically by “being better than others,” — he is focused on what lies entirely within his control: his goals and the thoughts, words, actions, and habits that get him there. Such a healthy form of competitiveness.

As a moral, it is incredibly relevant today as social media makes it so easy to compare our daily lives (full of highs, lows, and everything in between) with the curated highlights of so many others.

This is some real wisdom, and now when I catch myself comparing myself to others (a very normal human tendency), I now more quickly refocus on my own goals. Sure it’s okay to admire others, see where you stack up, and/or be motivated by others, but way too often it is overdone and all of a sudden you’ve spent a bunch of time worrying about things you can’t control.

Below are other similar, great quotes in the same vein:

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Even the greatest of the greats are susceptible to relentless comparisons, even when it doesn’t come from themselves. Lebron, Brady, Cristiano Ronaldo. Even at the ultimate peaks of their crafts, there will be throngs of humans seeking to endlessly compare them. To other current players, to other players in history, and if they get bored with that, even to past versions of the player in question. It is a VERY natural human tendency, and we will never be able to escape it completely, [see social comparison theory] but we can do better.

When you compare yourself, there will always be someone better and someone worse. Some say to look to those better than you for motivation, to those below you when you want to feel happier, or to simply be aware of your motives for comparison…I would prefer to be above all that as often as possible and instead turn my efforts more wholeheartedly towards becoming the very best version of myself that I am capable of becoming–as quickly and as often as possible.

A big thanks to Travis Mewhirter and Tri Bourne for the podcast, and for a small glimpse into the mentality of one of our country’s best. And thank you, Taylor, for the reminder to “Become, not Compare.”

 

On Bitcoin

 Non-Crypto Update:

Life is good! I had a few absolutely wonderful few days in San Francisco with Grace and her family for Christmas and I love going to work every day as a professional athlete for SVG. We sit at a solid spot in the table and are looking to pick up a bunch more points in the coming weeks to put us in a great spot for the playoffs. I am lucky to be part of such a great club–with great leadership, die-hard fans, an amazing coach and assistant coaches, community support, and a driven, smart, and friendly group of teammates. All the best for 2018!!

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On Bitcoin

Bitcoin is fascinating to me.

So is cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in general. Writing helps me wrap my head around it all.

I’m particularly drawn to my own psychology towards the topic and the psychology of the masses. As an old adage goes, “What is truer than truth?” Answer: The Story. Like so many others I’ve been swept up in the story surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. It is a powerful one- a novel and (hopefully) more efficient form of money with the power to make the world a better place. I also read the great book Sapiens a year back and it primed me to think of money differently than I had in the past- essentially as an elaborate shared trust system. Shells, silver, gold, gold-standard printed currency, fiat currency, ….bitcoin? I heard about cryptocurrency and blockchain this summer and then I read and absorbed anything I could get my hands on- and it is really intellectually exciting and it works at a functional level. To really simplify, Bitcoin solves the “issue” of trust with…math. The insights laid out in the original Bitcoin white paper are [were] truly revolutionary, and having an anonymous creator only adds to the intrigue. For a good run-down on Bitcoin see here.

As an American Millennial, it is also really easy for me to understand a loss of confidence in some of the existing institutions around us. Massive student loan debt, lower wages, and a tough job market have hit us hard. A large number of Americans, and more than half of Japanese millennials, are living at home. These factors and more add up to a lot of lost hope. “In the US, UK, and Japan, the generation of citizens aged 19-35 are the first in modern memory on course to be worse off than their parents.” That story sucks.

Given the times I have grown up in it is a lot easier to put some trust in a team of software engineers and a global network of computers that are in pursuit of a better (different) world than my tweet-happy President or the “too-big-to-fail banks.” I don’t think everything is broken but so many of the institutions we have grown up with are flawed or have failed many. Rebels, romantics, or curious people like me got excited about “the global revolution that blockchain could potentially bring to the world and its citizens. It [is] all about immutability, public ledgers, anonymity, bypassing third parties and banks, in order to re-distribute the global wealth and regain financial freedom and independence for all of humanity. If everyone becomes his or her own bank without any intermediary parties having control/power over your monetary assets, this is real freedom, at least in a monetary sense.” Bitcoin and cryptocurrency offer this solution, offer progress, offer hope, empowering individuals. And now it makes some rich. That’s a pretty powerful story. 

Unfortunately, when you look at the story more closely, a lot of it starts to unravel. I’ll just look at Bitcoin for now to simplify the discussion a bit. Bitcoin is generally understood as decentralized, trustless, world-improving, a long-term store of value, and hints at overthrowing the current financial system. It’s not quite any of these. But it is an ingenious step. 

Decentralized?: It has a small number of large-share owners and leaders at its core that make it more centralized than it might seem. Approximately 40% of coins are held by 1,000 individuals.

Trustless?: For almost everyone “accessing” the technology, it just requires trust in a different intermediary who haven’t been around that long and consistently run into a slew of problems and hacks.

World-improving?:  I hope so, eventually. But right now it does little to tackle income inequality or sustainability. Although this article made me rethink a lot of the numbers the press has been throwing out about power consumption. 

The “investing” space is also ripe for ICO scams and other problems. 

Long-term store of value?: Maybe. You are placing an awful lot of trust in a group of people to NOT change the long-term rules of a particular chain.

Overthrowing current financial system?: It can’t be used to make reasonable daily purchases, even though certain forks and altcoin seek to fill that, and other niches.

But also remember it wasn’t built to do all that. As a historian it is important to go back to the primary sources. The white paper defines Bitcoin as a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash [that] would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” This worked great. And it really was ingenious. A distributed, open-source, shared ledger system that could be used to transfer value backed by proof-of-work. Its generally anonymous nature in the beginning made it very appealing for darknet marketplaces like the Silk Road. 

Thanks to the media cycle, word-of-mouth, and a powerful STORY, Bitcoin has taken off well beyond its more humble beginnings, and has led itself and the entire altcoin/token ecosystem with it, into what many (myself included) believe is a speculative bubble. Jealousy fueled by tales of new Bitcoin millionaires abound. And just because they knew about it first and invested big, “they got rich”- furthering the mania that you could benefit next. Only the ones that come on board before larger crashes get really hurt. Greater-fool theory in action. And –shocker– very few people know or understand what they are investing in. 

The crypto space right now is really insane, the most recent champion of this irrational, speculative market: Ripple. Please take the time to inform yourself if you have the tendency to get swept up in the mania like I did: https://medium.com/@twobitidiot/i-see-you-xrp-fcf151feb96d

https://cryptoyoda1338.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/the-truth-about-ripple/

TL;DR: What big banks? XRP?? What do you own?? How are you ever going to use it?? Or most likely you’re just hoping to pass it off to the next guy. Nothing like a massive wave of financial speculation to add to the mania of this greater story.

BUT–the blockchain technology backing all this speculation works. That’s the coolest part.

Perhaps it’s easier to look at Bitcoin as a digital collectible, as Mark Cuban does. It exists and it’s scarce, and scarcity sells. It could be that, especially when one considers all the time, capital, and human resources that have already gone into it…It’s owning a piece of a revolutionary idea. If you’re a fan of collectibles of course then you can get in on the blockchain-collectible Crypto-Kitty mania that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. https://www.cryptokitties.co/faq (Disclaimer: Internet+free-time+curiosity+cats = I totally own some crypto kitties and now want other people to buy them. I did learn a bit more about how the network functions through this process, but I’m just telling myself that so I don’t feel like I completely wasted $40.)

As far as cryptocurrencies in general, other coins will come along, and from a business strategy standpoint (with open-source code being used and no real barrier to entry), as long as it is the most efficient, it should win out over the long-haul. It’s not easy to manage a decentralized project by its very nature, but with such quick on-ramps, innovation will explode. As one author puts it, there will be a Cambrian explosion of economic and shared government projects–out of which much will be learned. The challenges Bitcoin and other blockchain projects face now are often just that, technical challenges that will be overcome with enough time and effort. https://fee.org/articles/imf-head-predicts-the-end-of-banking-and-the-triumph-of-cryptocurrency/

Winning people’s trust is one of the main obstacles these new idea-dependent projects have. Bitcoin, despite its volatility, has been around since 2009, and human trust is built up over many small interactions over time. Years ago people many would have thought you were crazy if you asked them to put their credit card information on the internet to purchase something. Over time, though, people learned that the systems in place were secure enough to trust and thus a much more efficient payment method was adopted by the masses.

The real battle, as with many projects, is the battle over people’s minds. Can they understand it? Can they trust it? Do they even like the idea of what it means for the world? This is the battle that perhaps most fascinates me.

So we’ve got a bit of everything: A great story. An ingenious solution to an old problem that actually works but is not flawless by any means. A healthy dose of pure speculation in the space…and some revolutionary spirit in the form of code. Where do you stand? And why?

Please reach out- tell me where you stand and agree or disagree. Would love to hear your thoughts! I still am in love with parts of these stories that are being created and told- and frequently wage a battle in my own mind about what the future may hold. I love learning about it all. This technology and more will continue to disrupt our lives (hopefully overall in a positive way) as all technology can. But just wanted to get out some of my thoughts for right now. There are so many aspects of bitcoin/crypto/blockchain that are appealing to discuss…

Remember that where we spend our time and our money is a vote for how we want the world to be, besides just how we want to spend our precious time of conscious existence that we all have.

I will continue to stay involved and interested in the space but also plan on spending way more time invested in relationships with those around me.

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Further reading:

Investor’s perspective (Thanks Cam!)

Blockchain governance

95 Crypto-Theses for 2018

Decentralized Business Model

Full disclosure/disclaimer (you’re reading a volleyball player’s blog): None of the above is intended as investment advice of any kind. I hold small amounts of BTC and ETH.

USA Summer volley recap

After a disappointing loss against Düren last April in the quarterfinals (2-3, 3-0, 1-3), I flew back home to Colorado for a whole day and a half before getting in the car (thank you Dad!) and making the drive out to Anaheim, California to live with my mom and continue improving- this time under the auspices of USA Volleyball.

 

I had a great couple months of training in the USA gym. At first I was asked to come out for a week to train. I was competing at a really high level and ended up sticking around for three whole months of the summer. I learned so much on the court and in the weight room from my coaches and peers. It really is an amazing environment for any athlete USA Volleyball has set up in Anaheim.

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I got to train and compete with players I have looked up to my entire career. Below are some photos from an intra-squad scrimmage I got to play in- and played really well in!

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The first few weeks the main goal was preparing our World League Roster guys to compete. After a tough start, in classic USA fashion, the guys stayed true and pulled out some gutsy wins and with a little help made the Final Round where they ended up 4th.

The whole gym took a week off before the Pan Am Cup tryouts, the tournament I had aspirations of playing in. Grace and I took this opportunity (only full week we had together for many many months) and had an incredible time in Cabo.

When I came back for the 3-4 day tryouts I was not playing my best volleyball and a couple of other outside hitters were better during those days, and I didn’t make the team. I was pretty crushed. I had sacrificed so much- especially quality time with loved ones after already being gone for eight months overseas. It is in the job description, though, and others had been sacrificing a lot, too. Most importantly, there were a slew of lessons that came out immediately and over the next weeks as I reflected on the experience. And overall what an amazing time to be around the best players, coaches, and support in the nation. I also know I improved so much and put in a huge body of hard work even if it didn’t show during those key tryout days.

This may be one of the most important images in my athletic journey and I revisit it often:

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I think too often athletes shy away from sharing their failures, especially publicly. This is a product of many factors including our society’s obsession with being first and athletes not wanting to show weakness or vulnerability. Yet without the complete story this ultimately detracts from the true value and richness of the greater athlete experience.

My experience as an athlete makes me wonder a bit about mastery and sacrifice in general. I think to truly master something, you have to make a lot of sacrifices. My teammate Will Siroky shared a story with me a few years ago that has stuck with me. He said his coach was talking to him after one of his volleyball seasons ended and asked the somewhat cliché question “did you do everything you could have done?” and Will thought (as I do) “of course not- of course I could have done even a little bit more over these past months. I look back and can easily find a handful of moments where I was living my normal life. E.g. I could have not gone out with my friends that night, or I could have gotten a worse grade on that paper and gotten an hour of more sleep, etc.” The point is, you cane end up getting to a point where you are not living a life at all. So at some point it is about balance. Everyone makes hundreds of choices a day and strikes a balance between all these factors in life and we often celebrate those who lie at the extremes. Some are able to handle the sacrifices required by these extremes better than others, but it goes back to how you want to live your life.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this. How does one walk the line between burn-out, improvement, and stagnation/getting worse. Marv Dunphy would add in the rather black and white aphorism “You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse.” While I know what he is getting at I think there is no easy answer…I guess it comes down to what your values are and then building your life and behaviors around that.

When it comes to selecting and living my values, at the end of the day I am drawn back to the Chinese proverb my dad shared with me when I was young that was passed onto him from my now-godmother Jenny Lang Ping, the “Iron Hammer” who helped dismantle the U.S.A. Women’s Team in the 1984 Gold-medal match but then through a friendship with my Dad and others came to coach in the United States and eventually coached the USA Women to a silver medal in 2008 (and then went on to coach the Chinese women to Gold in 2016). She shared with him that “Winning and losing are temporary,  friendships last forever.” Some people immediately cringe when they hear this–I know used to–thoughts of “Championships are forever and remembered forever, etc!!” while there is some truth to that, too, increasingly I know how much more valuable the friendships and relationships are. Oh, and add in that Jenny is now the only volleyball player ever to win Olympic Gold as a player and a coach….maybe she was onto something…

Volleyball didn’t go 100% as planned this summer but there is still SO FREAKING MUCH to be grateful for. When I look at my volleyball and life journey as a whole I am just in awe. Support and love from so many have helped me get to today. Over this summer alone I spent time living my dream, made many new friends, rekindled old friendships, spent quality time with loved ones (that is so precious given the lifestyle I choose), had some incredible experiences with all these loved ones, and overall had an amazing time.

I have been a Reid Priddy fan since I was 8 and saw him play in Colorado Springs where I was growing up, and I have really looked up to the way he played and the way he is now sharing his journey to progress the sport forward. I highly recommend his “Max Potential” playbook for an amazing inside look at this life and sport. He shares:

“Volleyball was my passion but it became so much more! It became a training ground. As I worked to master the game, the game had a way of working on me…my character, how I handle pressure and so much more. Those are the things that I carry with me today. The medals and trophies are all great but it’s the man I have become that is enduring and volleyball was my internal training ground. It helped me develop the ability to be a good learner. How to work with others. How to adapt and change. How to overcome fear. That is the real GOLD that I carry around my neck today.”

With all this being said, I am recommitting to developing great relationships near and far, recommitting to sharing my experiences in many forms so that it may enrich and light the path for others, and in general choosing connection over isolation.

Update on this great new SVG season that is forming coming soon!!

 

EDIT:: My best friend Gavin shared this article with me that handles my thoughts in this blog, but more tactfully. Very well written and I think very true: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/well/mind/maybe-we-all-need-a-little-less-balance.html

December and January highlights

Some quick highlights- going all the way back to December!

My Swiss host-family, the Guggers, came all the way up to see Lüneburg and see me healthy and playing some volleyball again! It was a super heartwarming visit.

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Christmas was short, but I got the best Christmas present– a contract extension to continue doing what I love with an amazing group of people–I will be coming back next season to play for SVG! That will be really nice when the time comes, but my focus is on the present moment and giving whatever I can to this squad. We sit 5th and it is not set in stone yet, but a betting man would have us holding that position (or 4th which probably means the same matchup) going into the quarterfinals which start March 18th (ya never know though, that’s why you play!). Three more regular season matches remain and more quality time in the gym with the guys to keep pushing to become the best we can be! (Hint: really, really, good)

The Christmas markets in the city and around Germany were simply lovely throughout the whole season, and a highlight was a big dinner with the team complete with secret Santa. Fellow American Matt West, who is currently playing in the Netherlands, also came to visit Brinkley and I to celebrate Christmas.

For the New Year I met up in Berlin with one of my best friends from home Mitch Beal, along with a bigger volleyball crew to ring in 2017.

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The journey is never complete or worth it without a little, or a lot, of adversity and challenges. One little one recently was my strange “injury” that lasted about a week. During a Saturday match against Frankfurt I was feeling some jumper’s knee pain and put a strip of tape around my knee on the skin. After that match I took the tape off along with some leg hairs, too. Soon after that somehow one of the open pores  right under my kneecap became really infected (from sweat, my kneepad, etc.) and the infection spread into the bursa of my knee. I could barely walk for a couple days and missed about 6 days of volleyball. Two other guys on the team have had similar issues, surprisingly, but overall a super random thing. Lesson there I guess is don’t put tape directly onto your skin, and/or just make sure you keep sweaty areas and open pores extra clean! (I have always been a hygienic person just not those couple of days I guess). I did get to watch from the sidelines, though, as we dismantled Berlin at home in 4 sets. The guys were unstoppable that night and it was a joy to watch!

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The highlight of that same time period was Grace’s visit, though. Before she started her new job in San Francisco she made the trek all the way back to northern Germany for about a week. It was bittersweet timing. For a few of those days I was slightly hobbled, but her love and support was exactly what I needed. As the infection dissipated we did get to see a lot more cool sites, including the gorgeous new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

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Then, at our away game at Bühl I got to see my wonderful Swiss friends, Alex, Sabrina, and Nina who were out in full force to support, along with my Dad’s friend, Udo!

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On one of our off-weekends, I was treated to the most hyggeligt time in Copenhagen with Mads Møllgaard, his girlfriend Solrun and their families. Here’s a description that comes close to capturing the sentiment I got to experience from the Danes themselves:

“Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Whether it’s making coffee a verb by creating a ritual of making it then lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.

Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, contentness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.”

The journey there included the first large ferry I’ve ever been on in my life (even the train car drives straight onto the boat and then links straight up with the other side of the tracks!?!?)

Mads’ brother Oscar showed me the main sites and history of Copenhagen one day (including the iconic [very] little mermaid), and we also went ice skating, went to a big food truck gathering inside a warehouse and even saw the bizarre anarchist community of Christiania, all linked together with some amazing meals and more hygge. It was simply wonderful!

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My dad was also working in Amsterdam and Scotland and got to pop over for a few days to see my life here.

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It’s really special to share a passion with a parent, and I think one of the most amazing things about the way my dad raised me with volleyball is the way he never pushed me into the sport, but rather indirectly cultivated my love for it- along with anything else in the world that piqued my interest. It was not until I was older that volleyball ended up being a focus.

As I get older, too, I realize more and more how lucky I am to have been raised by such a great dad (and I am increasingly aware and grateful towards the expansive village of family, friends, and support that raised me and continue to do so). The recent passing of Carl McGown hit really close to home in this regard, and had me thinking about how we all stand on the shoulders of giants throughout our lives. Carl was vital in my development as a player, but more as a human, both through my dad and directly. My dad’s blog on his passing and life says a lot of it really well, as do the countless tributes from all over the world– http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2017/January/04/You-Are-The-Magic –it is just amazing to me how much he affected positive change and the lives of those around him, and he will be missed dearly.

Life moves crazy fast. A reunion with our old foreign-exchange student Danijel, who my dad, sister, and I hosted 13 or so years ago from Germany, was also a) mind-blowing and b) really special. I remember when I used to think Danijel was tall and HUGE, and he was a stud judo champion–look at the photos of us from then and now. And Danijel now has a child and another baby on the way! And I’m just a wee bit bigger now. Was really cool to play in front of both my dad and Danijel (and we even surprised Danijel with my dad being there).

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These past couple months have also included some great and not so great practices and matches, but the good days way outnumber the “bad” and it’s an awesome journey and process to be a part of.

To close out, recently really enjoyed the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Super thought-provoking, would love to chat about it if you have read it!

Bis bald!

2016 Daily Motivations

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” -Zig Ziglar

In memory of 2016, below are a series of quotes and images I have saved on my phone from this year that made me think, helped motivate or inspire me, made me laugh, or all the above. 

I hope you find at least one that resonates with you and that can contribute positively towards your journey.

I’ve lost track of where many of these came from- but thank you to all the sources!! Leave one of your favorites below, too, if you like the collection. 




Here’s to a phenomenal 2017!

Sülfmeister, #LüneHunen, Berlin, Hamburg, SVG powers on! 

Been awhile since my last update! I had a special visitor as Grace came over for a few weeks and things have been busy in a good way with volleyball and the first part of the SVG season! But it’s time to catch everyone up!

Before we got underway with the season we got to participate in a really unique city tradition- the Sülfmeister Games and Parade. Basically every year the town of Lüneburg names a “man of the town” (could also be a woman!) based on a series of tests of strength, stamina, teamwork and prowess. But basically today those tests have become slightly ridiculous but very fun games that are watched by a sizable crowd downtown. The main city street shuts down and all sorts of corporations, city groups, and local businesses put teams together to fight for the right to name the Sülfmeister. Awesome. Many of these teams train extensively for the event- complete with full-mock up devices and props (for example giant barrels) to train as “gamelike” as possible. We got to do a short training session trying out the different games to help prepare us.

This is the goal- to become Sülfmeister!!

Foto: t&w Sülfmeistertage Kopefest Sülfmeisterin Fassverbrennen

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Our opposite, Eric “Boulder Shoulder” Fitterer had one of the most memorable performances ever in the beer stein challenge. See the video here or on our Facebook page if you missed it: (Our Facebook is also a phenomenal way to stay updated more consistently with the season!)


Below is a video of our trial run on another challenge. Check out the wingspan of Michel Schlien- our studly middle with a wicked float serve.  On the day of the games our skilled Spanish setter Carlos and I set a record time in this same “fish cart drag.”

Below are two teams competing in one of the challenges- solving the puzzle of the mixed up beer crates on the floor and then handing them to a nimble guy who has to build the puzzle below him as he climbs up!


The next day we got to walk in a giant parade that wound its way through the old town that was a really cool experience, too.

Some other highlights of the preseason included a team presentation, visits to Berlin and Hamburg, team bowling, and of course Grace’s visit!


All of this built towards our first home match and season opener. And what an amazing experience it was!! The game was scheduled to start at 8:00pm and I showed up before the normal report time- I think 6:20pm or so- and there was already a line of fans wrapped around the building waiting to get into the gym for the best seats!! Apparently it is only a capacity of 800 but it feels like 1800+ and the energy you feel channeled to the court is just really uniquely powerful, special, and indescribable. We had put in weeks and weeks of work with just us in the gym- and for game time for it to be so packed was just really special. Our fans are die-hard. I’m jumping ahead a little bit but we had a 10+ hour bus ride down to one of our away games and we had a few fans come all the way there to be at the game in person. So amazing.

Here are some shots to give you an idea of what our home gym looks and feels like come game time:

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The first set was crazy, too. Really back and forth- complete with an overlap call, a missed overpass kill by the opponent, and the excitement that comes only with the end of close sets. Our Captain Scott finished the whole ordeal with a trickler net ace- one of those ones that just hangs on the tape at 50-50 and then barely tips over and falls- sending the whole place into a frenzy. It was just a really special night to share with all the guys, coaches, management, and fans!! A nice start.

Carlos, Fitt, and I were also extra lucky to have our respective girlfriends cheering us on!


We then went right into our first round Cup match. The Cup- like most volleyball Cups- includes teams from multiple divisions who are then randomly paired and randomly assigned home and away status. Win 4 matches and you’re the Cup Champion. High-stakes, big promotion, and great for the sport. For our first round we drew a third-league team relatively close to us- only about an hour drive. The whole roster got a shot to compete and we handled it professionally 3-0. The unfortunate thing for the team we played- Pinneberg- was that this year we “took” their best middle Florian Krage AKA Flo Rida from them as he is now on our team as a Lünehüne.

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The next challenge was a doubleheader weekend away in Berlin. First against VCO Berlin- essentially the junior national training team program that also competes in the first division this year. We prepared well, got gelling early, and never let up and rode that to a 3-0 win, as well.

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Next was Berlin Recycling Volleys. They are a powerhouse here in Germany and have recently been strong not only in Bundesliga play but internationally. They have had a history of American players, too- Scott Touszinsky, the Shoji brothers, and Paul Lotman- so I have followed them for a long time. For me it was also an extra cool match not only because of the great venue (3,000+ in the Max-Schmelling Halle) and opponent but because it was one of those cool matches where I got to compete against someone I’ve always looked up to. In this case it was Paul Carroll, the Australian lefty opposite. He was my coach at a Pepperdine Volleyball summer camp when he was playing there, all the way back in 2008 when I was 16. A cool moment fulfilling the quote that is something along the lines of “work until your idols become your rivals.” Unfortunately he showed a little of his experience and went off for 19 points against us. Not so cool. We had some really good chances in the match and it did not feel at all like we got swept 0-3, but we did. Unfortunately we also drew Berlin AT Berlin for our next round of the cup and dropped that match too. It even hurts to write but that put us out of the Cup.

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We also had our chances against a strong Friedrichschafen team away at their gym as well but let that match slip away 0-3 too. Despite the outcomes I know we are growing into one gnarly team. Getting to play three matches in a row against perennially the two best teams in the league was not great results wise- but we are using it to build. We came back home that next weekend and picked up an important three points against Rottenburg 3-1. That was home match #2 and I’m looking forward to many more! I love going to battle with this group. Unfortunately we just dropped another really close battle away at Düren 1-3. I am still so confident in this group of guys and the team as a whole, we have so much room for improvement and we are working every day to grow into the absolute BEAST of a team that we can be. I continue to learn so much from my teammates, our opponents, and our coaching staff and I get excited to come into the gym every day. How lucky can a guy get?

Off the court Grace and I got to adventure a good amount, too. We saw a good amount of Hamburg, Schwerin, and Berlin- including the Jewish Museum which was powerful beyond words.

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AND I ALMOST FORGOT!! Fitt, his girlfriend Kelly, Grace and I had the privilege of being featured in an EXCLUSIVE article about the two crazy girls that put up with our foreign volleyball adventures in the Bild, which has a circulation of 2,500,000. Pretty hilarious!

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Also a big thank you to the Hauschilds!! This summer I was playing an NVL tournament on Hermosa Beach when my partner Dave Smith heard some German being spoken. He played many years here in Germany and struck up a conversation with the family- it turns out not only are they Hamburgers, and not only do they know Lüneburg, but they are very close family friends with the Radzuweits -whose son, Lukas, is my fellow outside hitter this year. Too wild!! the Hauschilds graciously hosted Lukas, Grace and I for dinner and younger Moritz and Leo schooled me in ping pong and a round of grass volley. Such a small world and lucky to meet such a great family out of the blue like that.

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Another side note –especially for Game of Thrones fans- take a look at the map of all the teams in our league, the Men’s Volleyball Bundesliga.

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We are the one team way up in the north away from all the rest. We are the Starks of the Bundesliga. This means some long bus rides back and forth to play our away matches, but we always get to come back to our castle, our Festung, Gellersenhalle AKA Winterfell. We are the Kings of the North. Which I think is pretty awesome. Winter has come already at times, but, still…Winter is coming.

Don’t forget your SVG gear!! https://www.artiva-sports.com/SVG-Lueneburg-Fanshop

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Loving Lüneburg 

I’ve been in Germany almost a month now and I absolutely love it!! 
First a very quick recap of my summer: 
Spent time in New York with Grace. 

Caught up with a lot of friends at Princeton Reunions.

Saw Mac graduate.

Road tripped with Mac back to Colorado.

Spent time with family back home.

Worked some volleyball camps.

Played a lot of beach tournaments- AVP, NVL, CBVA. Took home the Vail King of the Mountain title with my great friend and partner Skylar, and qualified for my first main draw at the NVL in Hermosa with Dave Smith. Also really enjoyed the other tournaments I got to play with Dylan Maarek, Brian Cook, and my buddy Chris Patz.

Moved to Venice Beach with Grace and stayed with her sister Genevieve who so graciously hosted us for pretty much the rest of the summer.

Recovered from my ankle injury fully and crushed a long-term workout plan with the help of my strength-coach-via-Internet Brian Swenty. 

Drove back to Colorado with Grace and took down Vegas for a night on the way back.

Enjoyed many moments with new and old friends and my family!

But it’s time for the next chapter of my life overseas! 

After a very hectic travel day to Hamburg that included hours on the phone with multiple airlines and travel agents (thanks Dad, Lily and Grace for helping get me off successfully) I got routed through Iceland and made my arrival time. 


I was picked up and welcomed by one of our managers/PR people Henrik. Henrik is a renaissance man- he has a lot of things on his plate and rarely sleeps- for example right now (on top of many other things) he is running for public office and so it was pretty funny to see his face all over billboards once we got into town. He showed me the beautiful city of Lüneburg.



Way up in northern Germany, Lüneburg was not heavily affected by World War II bombings/conflict- so the main old city and its 3 gorgeous churches still remain- cobblestones, winding streets, and a number of buildings that have begun to slowly sink into the earth because of the salt flats underneath the town that originally brought it riches and acclaim. It is also a university town with almost 10,000 students attending Leuphana University. I have heard that the city fills up even more with when the school year starts sometime soon. 

And it is super close to Hamburg too- which I briefly explored a few weekends ago wth some of the guys and will definitely be taking more trips back to.


After the drive from the airport-so nice to get a little autobahn action- Henrik took me to grab my car (sweet!) and took me to my new flat which was already stocked with some groceries complete with a big loaf of  white “American Bread”! It was a great welcome. (Don’t worry Coach Shweisky I am conscious of my white flour intake)

I live above a really nice family along with our stud of a libero Michael Brinkley and it’s maybe a half mile to the gym we play and train in! The apartment is great- and even has a little sun porch that has already made for some awesome sun-filled meals. Living with Brinkley has been great. We also share a car and just yesterday I gave him HIS first lesson driving a manual when just last year it was me stalling the car at inopportune times.

A gorgeous sunset from the living room


And the team!! I love this group of guys already- since reaching the first division SVG Lüneburg has finished 3rd twice behind powerhouses Berlin and Friedrichschafen and they made the cup final last year (big deal) complete with shirts that read #the little team that could on the back—-I have half a mind to do an small interview with each guy so you can get to know everyone better too. We have 6 newcomers including myself and 8 guys return. Check us out online and don’t miss any of our games if you are close enough to make it! 


It is no secret that we are a smaller budget team but we do not play like one. For this to happen not only does it take the right guys, it takes a great team around the team- that starts with our coach Stefan Hubner. I’ve learned SO much both in the weight room and on the court from coach already it gets me so fired up for the rest of the season ahead! I’ll spare everyone all the details but everything we do just makes so much sense and I know I will grow so much here. Stefan had a long professional career in Germany, Italy, and was a mainstay and captain for the German National Team as a middle blocker. He is back for his third year at Lüneburg. 

Other people involved with the club include President Andreas Bahlburg (who came over and installed my washing machine by hand), assistant coaches Eugenio, Bernd AKA Papa B, and scout Maltey. Our physios Thomas and Michaela have already helped me out a lot. I’m definitely forgetting some team around the team members but just very grateful to be part of such a good group of people. 

We play in a cozy gym-Gellersenhalle- that (from what I hear) gets absolutely PACKED and is known as GellersenHELLe for the other teams that visit. I really like the gym even if the ceiling is a little low. For matches tickets are even hard to come by- part of the reason that the club is in the process of building a brand new gym complex that will be ready by next season. We also got to have a barbecue with the fans recently and it was an awesome thing to get to know some of them better! 


The team is a pretty big deal in the city, too. A couple years ago they were named the best sports team in Northern Germany. A local bakery even has a sandwich named after the team- the Lüne Hüne with hüne roughly translating as Greek-like-hero-stud-man. We had our first team meeting at a local Greek restaurant and there is just this great family feel with the club. 

Oh! And I can’t believe I almost didn’t mention the fact that we have four- yes FOUR Americans on the team this year. Me, Michael Brinkley from Huntington Beach who played at UC Irvine with Scott Kevorken, our returning captain and middle blocker from Thousand Oaks, and Eric Fitterer a big opposite from Saint Louis who played at Lewis and last year in Spain. What a squad. I’ve followed international volleyball for awhile and I can’t remember a team having this many US guys (Besides LEKA last year in Finland) it is awesome to push with the guys every day. 


Also made it to Berlin a couple weekends back!! check out the photos


Some team-building paintball was also a riot-just too much fun


and as I post this we are headed to Groningen in the Netherlands to play another couple preseason matches. We started the year by playing a third league team as the “opener” for a match between the Czech Republic and Germany in a huge arena, and then a second league team the next weekend in a smaller gym like ours that was great fun. 

There’s way more to tell you about but that’s all I’ve got for now- until next time and please reach out online or on WhatsApp (I won’t be using my American phone number again until I return in May).