There has been quite a bit of time between Spring Camp in Italy and our first game so not a whole lot has happened. I have been here for about a month already and it has gone by pretty fast. I still miss home and the family, and I always will, but I’ve gotten settled and things are going well. I’m itchin’ to start playing games again! The first league doubleheader, and home opener, is on Saturday April 21st against the Vienna Wanderers here at Ducksfield. I don’t believe we get the luxury of live video and live stats like I did in college, but there may be some brief little articles afterwards. I will post and share links if I see any!
Let me tell ya, literally living at the field is the best thing ever. Practice in 10 minutes? I’ll be right there. Forgot my cleats? I’ll just run up and grab them. Bored? I’ll just step outside and go take some swings. If we don’t have practice, I’ll go hit in the cages and get some throwing in too. There are 5 (3 baseball and 2 softball) imports here and we all make sure to get the extra work in. The players on the team typically ask for individual hitting and/or fielding time with me on our off days as well. I am always happy to help and share the knowledge! Some of the players have been telling me that the drills I’m showing them have helped and that is so rewarding. My goal is to give them things to work on and help improve their swings. I hope I’m helping them move in the right direction, but it’s tough when I’m telling them so many things that they have never heard before. Trying to incorporate all the parts of the swing together is not an easy task and it takes a lot of repetition. You just gotta trust the process and keep workin’!
The field needed a little work before we played on it for the first time this Spring because the team had been practicing indoors for the winter. We spent a few hours out there one day putting up the outfield fence covering, picking up rocks off the infield, and dragging the infield too. Fences are 236ft, if you were wondering, and I’m hoping I can send one flyin’! 🙂 Already accomplished that feat off of front toss, but more importantly let’s hope that happens in games too. Practice followed the field work with just some defensive situations and cage work. A good day at the office! Sometimes I play third, sometimes I play center, sometimes I get sent to first for a little bit, and I even caught a bullpen. I’ve always been able to play anywhere, but never strayed from one or two positions. It’s pretty fun to just play everywhere!
The whole organization has fastpitch (Crazy Chicklets), slowpitch (Rubberducks), and baseball (Diving Ducks). The baseball teams range from U10 up to the main Baseball League Austria (BLA) team, so sometimes they need a bit of help with practices and games. We can earn a little bit of extra cash by umpiring their games on weekends. Being an umpire is not my favorite thing, but I help out when I can. The Youth Softball League for the U22 National Team has some practice weekends here. Quite a few of my teammates are in the league. One weekend there were 3 teams and they all played 2 games. Eidy (the other softball import, from Venezuela) and I were umpires for all of the games all day, 6 back to back (x3) games. It was pretty exhausting. Afterwards, they asked if I wanted to have some pizza with them. Of course I said yes. What I didn’t know was that they had a meeting beforehand. And yes, in German, of course. So I sat there and pretended like I knew what was happening but really had no clue what was going on, I just wanted pizza. An hour later, the food arrived. I had a good time just hanging out there though. It was in the clubhouse so I didn’t have to go very far to “go home”.
Easter Sunday made me miss my family a little more, but I have a bunch of pictures here so they are always with me and I can still see them every day. Eidy and I walked around the surrounding area just to check things out. With it being Easter, it was completely deserted. Hardly any cars or people. That night, some of our team took us into town and showed us around a little bit. We also went cosmic bowling and it was pretty fun!
I have never wanted ice cream as much as I do since I’ve been here. Gelato, everywhere. Back in Washington, you just don’t see a really good ice cream shop on every corner. Any time I’m out and about I feel like I need to end the day with an ice cream cone. Not great for the health, but hey, I’m not going to be here forever and might as well take advantage of it. The mall is within walking distance from where I live, which is pretty dangerous. Wiener Neustadt is a pretty small town, but it seems like there are a lot of things jam packed into it. Or maybe that’s just me being new here and not knowing the place yet. I haven’t been everywhere and I can’t read German, so who knows. I’ve made a couple trips to Vienna and it is so beautiful. It is only about a 30 minute train ride and they are pretty easy to navigate. The subways are a little tougher for me to figure out but it’s all good. I don’t want to jinx it, but the weather has been amazing. Austria knows when it’s supposed to be spring time. Washington, on the other hand, not so much. I’ve heard it’s still pretty damp back home. I love Vienna. The architecture is amazing, as usual. One of my teammates and her friend were so kind to show us around a little bit. It seemed like every time I turned a corner there was another thing of beauty staring right back at me. As if it’s not already a super cool place, there’s a lot to eat, a bunch of shops, and a lot of ice cream. Being the touristy person that I am when I’m in another country, I feel the need to take so many pictures to capture as much as I can but I hate having my phone out all the time. It’s too bad my eyes can’t take snapshots. Here’s a little sneak peak for ya 🙂
Another one of our teammates took us to a skywalk that is about 30 minutes outside of Wiener Neustadt. There are so many tiny towns around here. We weaved through so many of them and drove up the side of the hill to get to the top of a cliff. It was called Naturepark Hohe Wand and I felt like I was on top of the world. Not quite as high as Table Mountain, but still some stellar views. Seeing the world is so humbling to me. Great hikes and beautiful places in America trigger the same feeling, but in other countries, it’s all taken to the next level. I find myself just stopping, looking, and taking it all in. I am so blessed with the life that I have and the people that are in it that it is impossible to be anything but grateful every single day.