Waves in Korea: The Blog

Penning, McCallister and Gehrels in Seoul.

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The Pepperdine men's volleyball team is currently in South Korea, participating in the Hyundai Life Cup and other international scrimmages. Sophomore James Gehrels, outside hitter and Co-President of the Pepperdine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will be providing updates from the trip.

August 20
Our bus for the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea left the hotel at 8:30 a.m., so it was an early morning for us. It took us a couple of hours to get there, and when we arrived we spent the morning and the early afternoon on a tour around the DMZ. We watched a cool video, climbed into a North Korean attack tunnel, and even were able to look into North Korea via an observatory on a hill. After the tour we went for lunch then headed to Incheon Airport to get ready for our flight home. It left Seoul at 8 p.m., and we arrived in Los Angeles at 3 p.m. on the same day thanks to a 10-hour flight, plus time changes. It was then just a short trip back to Pepperdine, and just like that the trip to Korea was over. It was an awesome experience, both culturally and volleyball wise, and I am honored to have been a part of it. I hope everyone has enjoyed hearing a little about our time there. I know that I enjoyed writing it down! Jimmy

August 19
We started off our second to last day with some muffins and bagels from a nearby coffee shop before going out into Seoul to do some shopping. We went to a more local shopping area and found some really neat, authentic Korean gifts and souvenirs. While there, we ate a Korean sweat treat which is similar to cotton candy. It was definitely an experience. Following shopping it was a rush back to the hotel in order to get lunch before heading to our match at Sungkyunkwan University. We arrived very early and the guys had some fun on the court prior to the game. After warming up, we started and immediately I noticed we were playing better than the other day, but unfortunately it still wasn't enough. We lost all four sets we played against Sungkyunkwan, but it was a chance to get some guys some playing time and experience, and everyone I think improved because of it. Afterwards we returned to our hotel for our last night in Seoul. With it being our last night we set out to explore an area of Seoul that we hadn't explored yet. It was a cool, rustic neighborhood with authentic Korean houses. After a dinner of chicken and ice cream, it was back to the hotel where we met up with the rest of the guys. The majority then decided to go out and sing some karaoke. Tomorrow is going to be a long day of traveling home. I had better get some rest! Be back in America tomorrow! Thanks for reading, Jimmy

August 18
We woke up on day two in Seoul to find it raining again. After coffee and some breakfast, a small group of us headed to where we believed the Pope to be speaking, but unfortunately we couldn't find the place. Nearing the afternoon it was time to get ready for our match against Hanyang University. We arrived on campus a little before our match and warmed up. Interestingly enough, we learned that the arena we were playing in was where Coach Dunphy had coached the U.S. team during the 1988 Olympics in Korea. We unfortunately did not play Olympic-caliber quality volleyball today, as we lost four out of five sets to Hanyang. To their credit they were a good team, we just didn't play well at all. Oh well, move on to the next game! Tomorrow we play another university team in Seoul, then our trip is really almost over. Until tomorrow, Jimmy

August 17
After an awesome team breakfast at an American fast foot joint, we piled into cabs for the short ride over to the War Memorial of Korea where we went on a guided tour of Korea's history. By the end of the tour, while interesting and informative, I think everyone was feeling a little overwhelmed with dates and facts, so we then went off to one of Korea's most famous shopping areas. We were allowed to wander around all day by ourselves; we just had to be back at the hotel in the evening. The shopping area was an interesting mix of street peddlers, restaurants, gift shops, suit shops, and many more. It was interesting to see how the prices varied between here and the states on things I've found in both places. After shopping all morning, we returned to the hotel to relax, then went out to explore the areas surrounding our hotel. It too had an interesting variety of places ranging from franchise convenience stores, to obscure, hole in the wall bars. We ended up stopping for some fresh, soft ice cream with honeycomb in it, then it was back to the hotel to play some more cards. Tomorrow afternoon we play a university team from Seoul, our second to last competition on the trip. It should be yet another exciting day! Jimmy

August 16
Everyone woke up this morning feeling excited to move on to something new. We left Gwangju at 9 a.m. after one last breakfast of the now very standard eggs and rice. We headed back towards Seoul to a place called Cheonan where we stopped at a sandwich shop for lunch before continuing on to the Palace of Sky Walkers where the Hyundai Capital Sky Walkers (a professional team) practice. It was one of the coolest buildings I have been in, with all the bells and whistles. The whole building is centered around a volleyball court in the middle, with dorms, locker rooms, workout areas and a kitchen surrounding it. It was fan appreciation day for the Sky Walkers, with probably 100 of their most loyal fans in attendance. We had agreed to play five sets against them regardless of outcome. We lost all five, however, our level of play improved immensely over the course of the five sets, and everyone had a good time playing against one of Korea's top professional teams.  After playing the Sky Walkers it was time to get some dinner at a local Korean barbecue place. After an awesome dinner, it was about a two hour bus ride into Seoul and our hotel for the rest of the trip. Tomorrow is going to be a ton of fun as it is our day to tour Seoul with no scheduled plans. It's crazy how fast our time here in Korea is going. Better make the most of it! Jimmy

August 15
Our final day at the Hyundai Life Cup in Gwangju started like all the others with even more rice (a recurring theme) and eggs. We then rested up and headed to the arena over an hour before game time, today being the last day, there was a match before ours which ended right on time. After a good warm up, it was time to go for our match vs. Australia. We had a very different starting lineup in today, with myself and the rest of the sophomores getting some playing time. Set one was fairly tightly contested but we pulled through. Sets two and three even more so, however in each one we ended up on the winning end. After beating Australia 3-0, it was time to wait for the closing ceremony after Japan played South Korea. It was a really fun game to watch, with Korea winning in four sets. However, thanks to tie breakers Japan ended up winning the tournament with Korea second and us third. A 4-1 record against some pretty good international competition is nothing to hang one's head about, but this trip is far from over! Tomorrow we leave Gwangju for Cheonan and play one of Korea's top professional teams, the Sky Walkers. From there, there it's on to Seoul. Goodnight from Korea! Jimmy

August 14
After getting to sleep later last night, it was much easier to sleep in until just before breakfast. Following food we were going to go for a little walk but it was raining very hard outside all morning. After watching video and scouting Korea we ate a tasty lunch of more rice (yay), chicken and French fries , and then headed to the arena to get ready. We got there very early, and had to sit in the stands while the previous match finished. After going through a good dynamic warm up led by Strength and Conditioning Coach Tubbs, we did hitting lines and served. Playing the host nation, South Korea, meant more people in the stands which led to a really fun atmosphere to play in. After a well-played first set, we came out on top 28-26. Set two was again very back and forth, but this time Team Korea made the plays to pull out the two-point victory, 29-27. Sets three and four, while also tightly contested, went our way and we beat South Korea in four sets! The amount the level of play was raised from yesterday was awesome to see. The guys really played well today and got the big win. Tomorrow is the final day of the tournament and we play Australia early in the afternoon with a celebration ceremony to follow. Tomorrow is a big day. I'm going to get some sleep, Jimmy

August 13
Even after four days into this, my internal clock is still a little off. After waking up at around 6 a.m. we relaxed until breakfast, and then we got ready for our match against Japan. After the international protocol warmup, we started set one, and right off the bat things didn't go so well. Japan came out swinging, and with some strong serving took set one 25-16. Set two was much of the same with Team Japan winning 25-16 again. The Waves battled back a little in set three and made it closer, but still lost 25-21. Despite the loss the team was in ok spirits, and a postgame dinner at a familiar American steakhouse in downtown Gwangju made everything a little better. After steaks and fries (anything besides rice!) we were feeling good and returned to the hotel to play cards and go to the bowling alley. Following some intense card games, we ventured out a little from the hotel and found some interesting food. We ended up trying some kidney sausage, which tasted somewhat like top ramen. After our food adventures it was back to the hotel to rest up for tomorrow's game against the host country South Korea. Signing off, Jimmy 

August 12
Day four in Korea started much the same as day three, with our standard breakfast of toast, eggs and of course, more rice. Following food, we gathered in the lobby to head out to the main shopping area in downtown Gwangju. We squeezed into five taxis, and after a short drive arrived at probably a square mile of streets jam packed with all kinds of shops, as well as a multitude of coffee shops. After wandering up and down the streets for probably an hour, we made our way to a coffee shop to try a Korean frozen ice dessert. We ordered mango and green tea. The mango was delicious, while the green tea wasn't as popular among the guys. We then headed back to the hotel to relax before lunch and our evening game against Team China. We arrived at Yeomju Arena and watched the end of the previous match before starting our pregame warmups. Set one went our way, with the Waves winning 25-19. Team China battled back in set two, and thanks to some untimely errors on our part, pulled out the victory 25-21. Sets three and four were back and forth affairs, but we came out victorious in each set, winning 25-18 in the third, and finishing off the match 25-20 in set four. We played with more intensity today, and raised our level of play from yesterday's match. Another game tomorrow, another chance to get better. Till tomorrow, Jimmy

August 11
Waking up on day three in Korea felt very similar to day two. Another solid breakfast followed by another cup of coffee at the local coffee shop started the morning off right. We then proceeded to Yeomju Gymnasium to warm up for our match against Kazakhstan. The match started off fairly slow with neither team playing really well. The Waves got going, we came out on top winning set one 25-17. Coach Dunphy made some subs in set two and the Waves grinded out a 25-23 victory. In set three, it was tight throughout but the Waves again pulled it out 25-23 and swept the match against Kazakhstan. It was then back to the hotel to rest up and hang out the rest of the day. More bowling ensued followed by trying to watch the Japan versus China match on Korea's version of ESPN, however it wasn't on at the time we expected. Dinner was better than average, and I am feeling full and satisfied.  Another day in the books, the Waves are 1-0, so I call that a good day's work. Back at it tomorrow when we take on China! Until then, Jimmy

August 10
After being exhausted from a long day of traveling, plus a 16-hour time difference, the Waves and I woke up feeling refreshed and recharged. Our breakfast consisted of the main food staples we have come to expect (rice, eggs and toast), plus some sausage and some "muddy water" they called coffee. Feeling in need of some real coffee, Coach Rich, Coach Winder, (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Tubbs and I went in search of a coffee shop. We found our spot at a little place called Cafe Tada. We soon learned that "tada" stands for "Talk And Drink Area."  It was then back to the hotel and lunch, followed by practice at the Yeomju Gymnasium. After an intense hour-long practice, we returned to the hotel, then as a team we took a chair lift up the mountain behind our hotel to get a view over the city of Gwangju. The view was spectacular, but the bowling match that happened after was pretty awesome also. Dinner followed bowling with a large helping of pasta and fries and so ended day two. Tomorrow we play Kazakhstan, the first of five games, so Roll Waves! Signing off, Jimmy

August 7-9
Our trip to Korea began with a straightforward bus ride to LAX. Despite traffic on PCH we made it to the airport with plenty of time to get one last American dinner, a burger and fries for me. Soon after that, the long part of the trip began. The 12-hour flight went by fairly painlessly with the help of three fairly long movies, and we touched down in Korea right on time. Customs was a breeze and we were through in no time at all. Before getting on our bus to Gwangju, we met our translator "Bob," (who is the man!) and we stopped for breakfast at a fast food restaurant, where the menu was almost identical to its American counterpart. After a fairly uneventful four hour drive, we arrived at our hotel which has a bowling alley and a water park within it. We then got our first taste of Korean food when we went for Korean barbecue as a team with Bob! After a brief rest, we had a good serve and pass session in the arena, where the Hyundai Life Cup will take place, and then returned to the hotel to wait for dinner. All in all, a very long, but fun day and the first of many with the Waves in Korea. Until tomorrow, Jimmy



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