The Journey

(Disclaimer: this is sort of a two/three parter of the last 8ish weeks)

After so many weeks and months of…

“when is this happening?”

“just a little longer…”

“maybe next month…”

“what about my job?”’

“is this even happening?”

I’m going on almost two months of officially being in Colorado!  I set a date, started planning, started packing and put in my two weeks notice for the long awaited move…

And then the biggest wrench of all got thrown into the mix.

While I was busy pretending I wasn’t going to play volleyball anymore, and busy pretending I was going to move on to a normal life and a normal job… Volleyball had other plans.

The week before he was flying in to Cleveland to roadtrip out west with me, I got a text from a former teammate in Puerto Rico and her team needed an opposite asap. Of course by this time I had not been training for at least 3 months, and yoga had become my new volleyball (or so I thought).

“There’s a job for you…A team needs you…”

“I’m going back…? Do I even want to go back…?

Floods of emotions and thoughts hit me harder than before…No…Yes…No…I can’t…I’m not ready…But I can’t turn this down…But am I ready?

“We need an answer…You will be on a plane tomorrow”…(They can’t decide)…You’ll hear in the morning…You’ll hear tonight…We’ll give you an answer in one hour, two hours, night turns into tomorrow morning, which turns into 3 days…and still, nothing.

Hours tick by and my phone doesn’t leave my hand. Waiting for a call, and still no decision whether I am going or staying. All while trying to juggle preparing for a move that now, may not even happen and pretending to prepare to go to a new country, at the same time.

Waiting, waiting, waiting once again. Waiting on other people’s decisions to dictate what happens in my life. Waiting on possibiltities that mean putting something on hold that I committed to.  And this is real life…professional volleyball behind the scenes.  And then time runs out…and nothing comes to fruition.

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And now I’m here, waking up to the mountains and coffee and puppy licks every morning.  I did it! We had an awesome extended road trip with stops to see friends along the way.  I took the jump and I’m here. Trading the -10,000 degree weather and feet of snow for 75 and sunny (a few flakes and raindrops thrown in there too). It’s been an awesome month of hikes and new friends and donuts and Colorado things. And of course it’s more fun for the first few weeks with no job.

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Shortly after getting here and getting somewhat settled I got a follow up email about Puerto Rico not working out, but also, a bunch of other opportunities ahead. Now, at the end of April (which has now come and gone), I have a new chance with a new league, and an excuse to go to Los Angeles. The Korean League is holding a tryout and draft event, and I got invited…

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And now, I’m thinking about how I could possibly put the past 7 months into a blog post, anything short of a 500 page novel.  It seems as though I held off on this post for some reason, because I’ve stopped then started, edited and re-edited, and edited some more.  This is what I was waiting for:

After the extreme excitement at a second chance, followed by the disappointment that was a second possible trip to Greece followed by a possible offer in Puerto Rico…I pretty much gave up all expectations.  I remember stumbling across a quote somewhere on the abyss that is social media…An old adidas ad, and a quote that I lived by and wore on my wrist throughout high school and the majority of college.

IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING.

I had let what other people thought about me, dictate the type of player I had become.  I had lost the player that I had been.  And it scared me.  To the point of hanging up my shoes.  To the point of defeat, and feeling like I hadn’t lived up to my potential as a player.  And I knew I had to come back.

“Impossible is not a fact.  It’s an opinion.  Impossible is not a declaration.  It’s a dare.  Impossible is potential.  Impossible is temporary.  Impossible is nothing.”

I had to remove myself from that life for a little while.  Take some time.  Separate myself from the thoughts and feelings that came from a string of mediocre to terrible “professional” volleyball jobs.  Jobs that were never even close to the dreams and plans I had for my pro life from the beginning.  Jobs I got talked into because I didn’t think there was anything better.  The back and forth of settling…or waiting for something better that may have never come was so daunting.

But it came…

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And I didn’t come from a Pac 12 or Big 10 school.  I’m not a 4x All-American.  My team didn’t win a National Championship or go to a Final Four.   I was never player of the year.  But I got an opportunity and I took it.  I flew into LA a little less than 2 weeks ago now, for a 3-day tryout event followed by a player draft, where the top 6 out of 21 players get selected.  And I showed up and played my booty off.   I got picked 6th in the draft to go to Korea Expressway Hi-Pass club, the reigning regular season champs of the Korean League last season!

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Expectations mean nothing.  For all of you who thought this was impossible, I did it.  And for all of you who believed in me from the beginning…THANK YOU ❤

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I can’t wait to share the experiences of this new adventure with you all.

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2 thoughts on “The Journey

  1. martha towns says:

    You are one wonderful writer, dearest girl. I hope you can put all of Joie de Vivre together someday and sell it as an inspirational story to young women who may need to hear your story.
    I haven’t begun my Korean education yet but will soon. I’d like to get settled down house-wise before too long. The condo is almost, maybe finished but we need to sell this house. Cross your fingers and pray too.
    All my love, Gramz

  2. sarahmleonard says:

    Hey Leslie!

    Glad to see you’re doing well! It’s been awhile since those early Chagrin days, hasn’t it? Life is such a crazy, unpredictable ride. I just stumbled across your blog after seeing your posts on FB/Insta about being drafted to play professional volleyball in Korea and I just wanted to say congratulations and that your story is so inspiring!

    I’m currently working on a passion project with a good friend of mine called Be Your Own Muse (you can check it out at BeYourOwnMuse.org) a community of support and celebration where we tell the neat, inspiring, crazy stories of our peers in the hopes of empowering and inspiring other young people. I really think you’d be a perfect fit for a feature if you’re interested!

    You can shoot me an email at contact@beyourownmuse.org if you’d like to get involved. Let me know what you think and best of luck! Happy to reconnect, by any means! 🙂

    Sarah Leonard

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