Beijing Blogs - July 29, 2008

July 29, 2008

The life of Skype!

We had a great training session this evening. The players are finding their legs after the jet lag and really looked sharp at practice. The other teams in our bracket (New Zealand, Japan and Norway) have started arriving in Qinhuangdao. In total, there will be eight teams at the hotel - four women's teams and four men's teams. The security is extremely tight; we have police escorts to and from practice, and there are military personnel all around the hotel perimeter. Even the beach front of the hotel has a seven-foot fence reaching out into the ocean about 100 yards to cordon off the area from the vacationing crowds. Located on the east coast of China on the Bohai Sea, Qinhuangdao is definitely a popular vacation spot with the Chinese. Even at 10pm tonight there were still crowds out in the ocean enjoying the warm evening.

The players have a lot of down time at the moment because we are not going over scouting reports or showing film until closer to our matches. They spend their time on the internet, playing cards, watching movies, playing on the Wii, or having a shot at solving the jumbo crossword on the wall outside the training room. The video game Rock Band has provided hours of entertainment, and after awhile the murderous sounds and off-beat drumming from the equipment room go unnoticed. Anyone who has spent a lot of time on the road knows that filling down time is a big part of the nomadic life. Skype has become a staple for us all as we travel. If you are not familiar with it, Skype is a cheap and often free way of communicating via your laptop. You can call cell phones from your account for a really low rate or talk computer-to-computer for free.

We have quite a large support staff - two trainers, a doctor, our GM, two massage therapists, a press officer, an equipment manager, a video specialist, and four coaches' Phil Wheddon and Erica Walsh are the other two assistants on staff, and they also lead college programs. Erica is the head coach at Penn State, and Phil is the head coach at Syracuse University. We have become a very close-knit staff, and they are a huge part of this Olympic experience for me.

- Jillian Ellis

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