Monday, January 14, 2013
Amanda Hill is no longer an untested rookie on the Swedish pro volleyball circuit.
With a year of professional volleyball under her belt, Hill, a 2007 Berkeley graduate and former Charleston Southern MVP and Big South Conference 2011 Player of the Year, is a seasoned veteran now, in the middle of her second season playing for Gislaved in Sweden.
She is adjusting well to life as a professional athlete.
“The difference between this year and last year is that I feel a lot more comfortable,” Hill said. “I am really a part of this team and I know how everything works here so there are no butterflies this go-round. The adjustment was much easier.”
She added that adjusting to life on the court makes life off the court easier.
“I am adapting to life in Sweden pretty well,” she said. “It was good to already have good friends to come back to and know where everything is and how things are done. It also helps to have learned a bit of Swedish.”
Hill said she hopes to eventually become fluent in Swedish, and that the language barrier makes living abroad difficult.
“It's just a whole lot harder than I expected,” she said.
Volleyball season began with a training period in September and runs through April of 2013. Hill has been overseas since late July and said over the past two years she’s spent most of her time living abroad.
“I feel like it’s my second home,” she said. “I’m here more than I am in America now.”
So far this season Gislaved has been struggling, posting a 4-5 mark at the mid-season point.
“We started off the season pretty rough with a few team injuries,” Hill said. “Our first couple of games we had to play without our starting middles. Middles (middle hitters) are very important to a volleyball team. So we struggled a bit but we pulled through the best we could.”
Currently Gislaved is in fifth place in the league standings. In 2011 Hill’s team, stocked with a mix of American and European players, finished third in the regular season and second in the playoffs.
With the injury bug hopefully behind it, Gislaved looks to make a run in the season’s second half. Hill is pleased with her performance so far.
“I feel like I am doing well,” she said. “If ever I struggle with attacking in a game, I know I can make it up with my defense and serve/receive in the back row. One of the advantages of being a short player is good defense. I’m just lucky I can jump well.”?Because of the opportunity she’s been afforded to play volleyball as a vocation, Hill has seen a lot of the world in a once in a lifetime experience. Her stops include the UK, Denmark, and Barcelona.
“I spent Christmas in London England last year with one of my teammates since she is from there; Copenhagan, Denmark was a weekend thing since it’s so close to Sweden,” she said.
Hill hopes to make it to Paris this season and plans on spending the holidays this year in Rome.
“Rome is supposed to be the second best place in Europe to see during Christmas with Barcelona being number one,” she said. “I’m really excited to see all the great lights and Christmas decorations. Maybe get a look at the Pope.
“In February my team and I are going to Paris for some team bonding. So that is something I am really looking forward to.”
Hill plans to make the most of her time in Sweden and hopes to play a few more years competitively “as long as my body is up to the challenge and my team wants me.
“I am trying to visit as many places and experience as many things as I can while I have this opportunity. I thank God for the blessings He has placed upon me.”