Kentucky Volleyball Ready to Explore Japanese Sights, Experience Culture

Kentucky Volleyball Ready to Explore Japanese Sights, Experience Culture

by Tim Letcher

As the Kentucky volleyball team prepares to embark on an 11-day tour of Japan, there are a pair of elements from which the Cats can benefit. One, the extra practices and the games against Japanese university teams will give UK a jump start on the upcoming season.

The second element is the ability to visit a foreign country and to get to experience a culture that’s much different from what Kentucky’s players are used to in the United States.

While the volleyball will certainly be an important part of the trip, being able to experience Japanese culture is something that is a once in a lifetime chance for everyone on the trip.

UK head coach Craig Skinner believes that exposing his players to different cultures is a great opportunity that many of them might not get otherwise.

“I love going to places like Japan, Brazil, China because the culture is so much different than what we know and they would never probably get this opportunity to go on their own,” Skinner said. “So, for us to get a life experience that we can all share together and bond as a team, but also, they will be talking about this trip for the rest of their lives. All of us will be. What a great opportunity that our administration and boosters have given us to be able to fund a trip like this. It’s just an unbelievable life adventure.”

As for the players, they vary in what they are most looking forward to on this trip. Senior Erin Lamb will be visiting a foreign country for the first time, and she’s excited to do so.

“I have never been out of the country. I think it’s very exciting to have an opportunity like this,” Lamb said. “We are so thankful to our boosters and the university and the people who make this happen for us. We’ll cherish the memories down the road and it will definitely be an awakening culturally. It’s just really cool to experience something like this.”

Defending Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year Brooklyn DeLeye believes she might have never gotten to go to Japan if not for this trip.

“I’m really excited because I don’t think I would have ever seen myself going there,” DeLeye said. “I’ve heard nothing but great things. And the food, I’m kind of a picky eater, but I’m excited to say I’ve tried some new things there. Also, just seeing another side of the world and meeting a different culture and spending some time to better understand other cultures.”

Senior libero Eleanor Beavin is looking forward to many things about UK’s upcoming trip to Japan.

“I’m just excited to see the shrines and the temples, I’m really excited for the food, I love Japanese food,” Beavin said. “I obviously haven’t had real (Japanese food), so I’m excited to try that. I think it’s a really clean and safe country so I’m excited to see that.”

Outside hitter Haley Melby is looking forward to some retail therapy while in Tokyo.

“I’m really excited to shop,” Melby said. “I’m really excited to try new foods. I’m not picky, as long as they’re not spicy. And just to see around. I’ve heard Tokyo is like the coolest place in the world, so I’m excited to see it.”

Senior setter Emma Grome is looking forward to her second foreign experience.

“I went to Costa Rica for spring break and that was my first time out of the country and this is a completely different vibe and culture than that,” Grome said. “I’ve heard lots of good things about Japan. It’s a very clean, technologically-advanced, so that will be a lot of fun.”

Grome and the Cats have been preparing to deal with some major cultural differences when they go to Japan.

“We have learned a lot about their culture,” Grome said. “A lot of places, you take off your shoes when you go inside and you sit on the floor and you use chopsticks. Just a little bit here and there trying to get us ready for it.”

While the volleyball experience will be an important part of the Japanese tour, the Cats will also get to experience the culture, food and experiences of Japan during their 11-day trip.

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