Story by Aaron Cyr, a member of the RRC Rebels Men’s Volleyball Team
As a member of dozens of volleyball teams over my playing and coaching career, I have experienced quite the range of trips. Whether it was a bus trip to Calgary or a cargo van ride to Brandon, there was always a unique adventure to be had. But when RRC Rebels Coach Dan Gilbert informed us this year’s trip was not to your typical destination of Saskatchewan, Alberta, or B.C. — but instead to the historic city of Havana, Cuba — I knew this trip would be special.
While a Christmas vacation to Cuba usually suggests 11:00 a.m. wake ups, beach siestas, and plenty of fruity cocktails, our plans were different. We were here to perform. The first four mornings started with 6:30 a.m. alarms, awakening us for early morning practice with Cuba’s top volleyballers. After being paired up with a Cuban positional counterpart, we spent some time stretching and warming up, at the same time crossing a language barrier and learning about one another.
Roberto, the Cuban coach, called us “rivals”, since we would eventually be on opposite sides of the net. But this was just not so. We became friends. This was difficult, since I spoke as much Spanish as he did English. Communicating with hand gestures — and sometimes just agreeing with “si” — was common. But when we hit the court to compete against each other, we spoke the same language. It wasn’t verbal, nor did it involve any hand gestures — just that the sport we had both played our entire lives now gave us common ground. Read More →