Former Green Bay volleyball player Liesl Tesch is in the middle of her third season of playing professional volleyball overseas. She is currently playing in Finland. Liesl was an outside hitter for the Phoenix, graduating in 2008 and is currently in the Phoenix record book at #6 for career kills per set and #7 for career kills.
The World According to Liesl Tesch, by former Phoenix Volleyball player Liesl Tesch
Moi from Finland!
Since this past August I have been living and playing volleyball in Eura Finland. After playing almost two seasons in Sweden, I decided I wanted to try a new culture and volleyball league. So when I received an offer from a team in Finland, I was grateful, but not exactly thrilled. It's a Nordic country, probably the same level of volleyball, and directly next door from Sweden. How different can it be? Well, I couldn't have been more wrong!
Although Finland is a Nordic country, and often associated with Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) it really is its own entity. Its language, history, and culture are very different, and I have been fortunate enough to experience those differences having first lived in Sweden. Their language is especially different. The girls on my team often try to teach me a word or phrase in Finnish. Usually to win the coach over and play some game, because how could he say no to me with my cute American smile and great efforts of speaking Finnish? However, most often it takes them so long to teach me, let alone have it stick in my head, that they give up and we all feel defeated.
Not everything though has been as difficult to learn in Finland. There is a lot of pride here in Finland. They are proud having remained independent despite surrounding countries attempts throughout history, of their hugely successful economy, and of their contributions to today's world in entertainment, business (Nokia), and Sauna's.
To be honest, it may sound like a great profession - playing a game, working only 4-6 hours a day, sitting in Saunas and living abroad... and for the most part, it is! The good definitely outweighs the bad; I have seen some amazing places, met great people, and made life-long friends. The pressure to perform though is intense. You constantly feel the pressure of scoring a million points, and carrying the team. It's a little different than in college. There you at least had coaches and teammates that supported you even through the rough matches, but here you feel much more alone, and worried about losing your job if you don't have a great match.
It's interesting that the first thing I wrote about was the culture and country that I am living in, and not the volleyball (it wasn't on purpose it just happened that way). Really the traveling, moving to different cities, and seeing the way others outside of my "American bubble" view the world is what I will remember most about these past two and half years living abroad. I love the game of volleyball, no question, but that's not what I have enjoyed the most throughout this professional volleyball experience. Breaking it down, it's all really been about learning new things, meeting people, experiencing how other cultures live, and then yes finally... smashing volleyballs at other girls' faces.