South America Blog -- Mark Rosen
Mark Rosen

June 14, 2013

Michigan Volleyball in South America

Mark Rosen writes the final blog in a series that outlined U-M's 13-day tour of Brazil and Argentina, which included 10 matches across the two South American countries.

This entire trip to Argentina and Brazil has been a wonderful TEAM experience. First and foremost, I need to thank some very special people who made this trip possible. This trip would not have happened without the support of Bitsy Ritt, Dave Brandon and Chrissi Rawak and her development team. We are all so appreciative to have an athletic administration that values and supports experiences like this for our student-athletes.

We would also like to thank all of the very faithful Michigan Volleyball supporters that made financial contributions specifically toward the volleyball program. That support was a major source of funding for this experience. I would like to thank Kelly, Pichu and Cliff, our travel guides/hosts for the trip. They put together an awesome trip that not only allowed for great, competitive volleyball but a wonderful experience off the court as well.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Erin Virtue, our assistant coach, for her unbelievable efforts in putting together blogs, videos and social media content to document our travels. I know of programs that take professional videographers and sports information staff on these trips to handle those tasks. Erin, armed with only an iPad, her amazing imagination and work ethic, outdid them all. Not only the volume, but the quality of what she created has been outstanding. The videos she created will be a lasting memory for all of our student-athletes and staff as we look back on this experience. Thanks Erin!!

The Team

Erin told me it's my job to sum up the South America experience for our program. That is no easy task considering how many great experiences we had over the last 12 days. The volleyball was terrific! It allowed our team to add 10 competitive opportunities in a time of the year that we typically are not allowed to be together as a team. I am confident we will see the benefits of that extra volleyball time this coming fall during our NCAA season. In addition, this trip allowed an opportunity for an already close-knit team to become even closer. It's been very rewarding to see this team experience South America as a TEAM! They've all had to communicate in different languages, navigate foreign cultures and customs and overcome uncomfortable and challenging experiences, all of which we know brings about growth. We are in the business of helping young people grow, and trips like this are very valuable toward that process.

When we started the training phase for this adventure we agreed on four goals for the trip:
1. Improve as a team to gain a competitive advantage for our 2013 season
2. Have a FUN experience
3. Grow even closer as a team
4. Learn many new things about people, places and cultures we would be exposed to

Check, Check, Check and Check! Mission Accomplished!

I am extremely proud of how well this team tackled all of those goals in South America. It was so gratifying to see our team fight through the fatigue of 10 matches in 12 days to pull out an awesome final victory against a very good Brazilian Youth National Team on Tuesday. It was equally satisfying as we met to wrap up the trip, sitting by the pool at the Brazilian National Volleyball Training Center after the match and have each player and staff member share their favorite experiences from the trip. The thing that stood out the most to me was that after 12 days of being together the entire time ... after 10 matches, in two countries, over 12 days ... after dealing with adversity along the way ... every person in this program still puts their teammates and Michigan ahead of themselves.

I'm sure everyone will enjoy a little break over the next few weeks, but I, for one, can't wait to get back in the gym on Aug. 9 to start up the 2013 Michigan Volleyball season.


For more on U-M's tour of Brazil and Argentina, including game results, blogs, photos and video, visit our Michigan Volleyball in South America page.

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