On Saturday, Sacramento State wrapped up its tour of China and the team will land in San Francisco at 4 p.m. The 11-day tour began on May 31 and included elements of education, cultural experience and competition. The team spent three days in Shanghai, followed by three days in Nanjing, and the rest of the trip took place in Beijing.
The trip, which was inspired by longtime assistant coach Weidi Zhang, was the first abroad for Sacramento State volleyball and the entire squad from this past fall as well as the coaching staff, Sacramento State officials and boosters were on the trip. The Hornets played a total of six matches against local college and junior professional teams, and had the opportunity to enjoy countless adventures which included visits to the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.
Links to recaps from every day of the trip and player blogs can be found below the story. All 16 players on the team wrote a blog during the trip.
DAY 11 BLOGS
Junior Kennedy Kurtz
A dream fulfilled. For years and years, Weidi (Zhang) had a dream to take Sacramento State's volleyball team to China. This summer, it happened.
Weidi, thank you for pushing Ruben over the years to take us to your magnificent country. You were the inspiration for this trip.
Ruben, thank you for creating this trip, investing all of your time and believing in us as a program. Without you and your beliefs, we would not be the program we are today. You have given us an opportunity of a lifetime and an experience for which we will always be grateful.
Our assistant coaches, thank you for making this trip happen. Without your extra work, dedication and support, we would not have been given this experience.
Chris, thank you for being an amazing tour guide. Without you, our trip would have been extremely hectic, chaotic and stressful. You made a lasting impact on our trip, players and coaches.
And, to our alumni and boosters, thank you for your donations, generosity and unwavering support. You have given us the ability to explore and compete in this beautiful country. Without you, this trip would not exist.
Thank you all for giving our volleyball program a once in a lifetime opportunity. This trip has been a dream that I do not want to wake up from. Visiting a country so rich in beauty, tradition and people, these 11 days went by too fast. China has shown me beauty through its architecture, scenery and, most importantly, the people. From the interactions we had from competing against our opponents, to the children at the elementary school, the locals that were eager to meet us, each and every one of them were the kindest and happiest people. Always so excited to talk to us, they made me appreciate communication in a way I have never experienced. I will never forget the kind words and gestures the people of China gave to us.
I will never forget the beauty of the architecture we saw in Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing. From the views of the 8th tallest building in the world, to the Nanjing Massacre, to the Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City….when I think of beauty, I will think of China.
I will never forget competing at the highest level in a country with such talent. Being able to compete against the best in a nation across the world is an experience only few get.
I will never forget the lessons I have learned here. Thank you China for inspiring Chinese culture in my own life. Thank you for showing me beauty in architecture that is not seen in the United States. Thank you for showing me kindness in forms other than words. Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to play the sport that I love. Thank you for giving me an experience that I will cherish forever. Xei Xei, China. (Xei xei means thank you in Chinese)
Sacramento State Special Assistant to the Vice President Bill Macriss
A running joke on this trip goes something like this - 'What is the national bird of China? The Crane.'
Everywhere you look, be it in the great cities or smaller areas we have passed by bus or bullet train, there are cranes on the top of countless structures being built. The growth of this nation has come at a staggering rate not often seen in modern history. Yet, with all growth, the three cities the Hornet volleyball team visited have distinct looks that have made each stop a new adventure.
Vastly different than both Shanghai and Nanjing, Beijing's landscape is distinct in the three very different architectural designs on display in every direction and as far as the eye can see.
The Dynastic design - this includes the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and so much more - has been most prevalent in the capital city. Much of this construction happened in a previous building boom during the Ming Dynasty in the 15th century. The immensity of these structures takes your breath away, both in their beauty and in the effort it takes to walk through their vastness.
So, too, are the monolithic structures that are akin to the Cold War era and a time of a strict one-party rule that was bent on showing its citizenry, and the world, its strength. From the National Museum, to the Great Hall of the People, these buildings are immense and blocky in nature and seem almost impenetrable and indestructible.
Like both previous cities, it is the ultra-modern structures dotting the skyline that have been most surprising to many Hornets on this trip. While many of these buildings would fit into many of the major cities in the United States by day, it is the electronic alchemy of the evenings that create a show unlike anything you would see in any U.S. metropolis (except perhaps Las Vegas).
There are countless reasons to visit this country, bits its architecture is not to be missed.
I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the things that has made this trip most special of all - the people we have met in China.
From our friendly and surgically skilled bus drivers (and I mean frighteningly skilled), to the staff at our hotels, to coaches and students against whom we have competed, everyone has been gracious, helpful and warm.
The people we have met on the streets - folks asking to have their picture taken with our volleyball players throughout the trip, to people we have befriended while hiking the Great Wall, or met in countless mini marts - have added a breadth and depth of experience that has made the trip all the more special.
During our time in China, however, there are three special sets of people that have left indelible marks in the hearts of every member of the Sacramento State traveling party.
The Hornets knew they would be meeting the children from the Nanjing Lang Ya Road Primary School while putting them through a volleyball clinic, but they did not realize how impactful the interaction would be. Following the clinic, the young ladies gave each member of the traveling party gifts and invited us all to their school for dinner. A number of the young students performed poetry, songs, dance, but it was the hugs and smiles that were most appreciated of all.
The trip to China would never have happened had it not been for Weidi Zhang, a multiple-decade veteran of the Hornet program. A native of Shanghai, Weidi greeted us as the airport when we arrived and was with the team throughout the trip. His lovely family hosted the team for a one-of-a-kind dinner in Shanghai that was one of the highlights of the 11-day trip. His joy from finally having a Hornet volleyball team in China has been enjoyed vicariously by every member of the Hornet Family in China.
Lastly, Chris (our tour guide) has been unofficially adopted into the Hornet family. In addition to his guidance throughout the trip - making every activity and trip go smoothly and (almost) on time - he has been a funny, warm, and expert member of our team. He has hosted coaches, staff and boosters in the evenings for dinners that were not on the agenda and he has helped us see this diverse and beautiful land through his eyes. Today marks the end of his time as our tour guide, but Chris will be our friend for life. Thank you and Stingers Up!
Day 10 Recap/Player Blog
Day 9 Recap/Player Blogs
Day 8 Recap/Player Blog
Day 7 Recap/Player Blogs
Day 6 Recap/Player Blog
Day 5 Recap/Player Blogs
Day 4 Recap/Player Blogs
Day 3 Recap/Player Blog
Day 1-2 Recap/Player Blogs
August 7, 2017 VOLLEYBALL SEASON ON THE HORIZON; PRACTICES BEGIN AUG. 8
June 10, 2017 VOLLEYBALL’S FINAL DAY IN CHINA; TWO MORE BLOGS
May 19, 2017 VOLLEYBALL RELEASES ITS 2017 SCHEDULE