Sunday, February 17, 2008

13 October: Oda's Volleyball Game

Oda has been dying for me to come watch one of her volleyball games, and today our mutual schedules finally worked in her favor. Evelyne picked me up around 2:00 and we went first to Aldi to pick up some snacks. I had never been in this particular bargain grocery store before, and it was a bit shocking – like something you would have expected to find in Europe 20 or 30 years ago. The selection was very limited and the whole place had a sort of cluttered-closet feel to it. We picked up some generic brand cola, cookies and gummy bears (Evelyne was shocked to hear that Gummibären translates literally into English) and then drove down the street to the gym. We had each brought a folding chair and set up camp along the sidelines. Oda’s team was warming up and she came over quickly to say hi. Evelyne was quite frank in admitting that Oda’s team is not very good – or at least, as Evelyne put it, “They have no confidence.” She also admitted that Oda had put on some weight after her knee surgery and really needed to lose a few kilos. I’m sure Oda would have been quite mortified to hear her mother discussing her weight, but that’s Evelyne for you!

What’s interesting about organized sports in Germany is that they aren’t coordinated through the school system; youth sports don’t have anywhere close to the following that they do in the States. While fitness and sports are certainly popular, they are kept entirely separate from academic life. Oda’s team is part of an amateur league with members all over the Stuttgart area. Oda actually looked to be one of the youngest members of her team, whose ages ranged from 17 to perhaps mid-40s. I thought it was all pretty cool – a nice opportunity for a teenage girl to develop friendships with women of all ages.

Oda didn’t play much in the first set, which her team lost, but they came back and won the second two sets, so they were quite thrilled. I kept saying “Nice!” when someone made a good shot or save, but I should have been saying, “Schön!” In between sets, some other spectators showed up and Evelyne chatted with them briefly, but we were the only friends or family that stuck around for the whole game. During the break we offered the team our gummy bears, which they happily gobbled up.

It was getting on in the afternoon so I called John and had him walk down to meet me with Cody, so we could walk back together through the woods. I left as the second game was starting with another team, who looked quite good during their warm-up. Evelyne didn’t have high hopes for Oda’s team, and she told me later that they ended up losing, but played well.

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