Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years!!!! 2011

Brett, Herc and I will be staying in this holiday evening celebrating as a family.  We are cooking up a feast and have a bottle of champagne to toast with...thanks to Casey and Jelly for bringing it from Espania for us!  Nothing better than spending time with as many loved ones as you can...Dinner and a movie to bring on 2011!

I wish you all a very SAFE and happy new year with lots of love and joy!  

Song of the night...Bringing back Bad Boys

New Years Resolutions:

  1. Become a better person. "If you don't have something nice to say don't say it at all" is what my mom used to tell me.  I would like to focus on myself being a better person rather than letting what others say and do distract me.  

Herc Video's

The Great White Herc

Hercules playing football

Game 10 - Paok

We remain in the first spot of the Greek League with 25 total points after beating Paok 3-0 at home this past Wednesday night.  Paok has been at the top of the league since it started back in November.  Our friend Jonathan Winder, setter for the US National Team, plays for Paok and has been on top of his game this season.  They also have two foreign outside hitters from Brazil and Croatia maybe.  They have both been playing well this season.  The also have an opposite from Estonia who is probably 6'9" or so but a little young and still learning the game.

Our gym was packed for the match.  It was the most people I've seen at one of our games yet.  It was a really nice environment as the fans from each section were yelling back and forth in unison.  They were definitely our 7th player.  From the very beginning of the match they were cheering and very load.

We won the first set fairly convincingly with pressure from the service line and Kostas, our setter, running an offense that their block could not figure out.  Our middles were up on time and were unstoppable through out the match as well.

During the second set I went up for a block and felt a pinch in my spine.  When I landed I could not stand up straight or move without feeling pain.  I had to take myself out of the match and try to stretch it out.  It didn't work and it didn't matter as our guys rallied together and won the set with some great serving from our older middle Kravarik.

The 3rd set, I was watching from the bench, we could tell that Paok was done mentally.  They made some runs behind some strong serving but our team countered with some good blocking and defense.  Ryan and Rodrigo both played great and brought a lot of energy to the game.  Boco (Kravarik) and Kostas were both amazing all match as well.  Makis, middle blocker, put away some very difficult balls from off the net.  He jumps so well and can hit both directions that he is a very valuable asset to our offense.  Him and Kostas have a great connection.  Labis, our libero, played a very solid match as well.  He is our rock in most matches.

Here are some pic's from the match



Here is a short video of the match sent to me via Dimitris Iordanopoulos
Thank you for sharing!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Game 9 - Panathanikos

We are officially in first place with 2 matches left in the first round.  We won with Panathanikos, who was in first place, 3-1.  The first set Panathanikos jumped out to an early lead as I came out of the gates really slow.  I think my first three attempts in attack were a block, an error and a dig.  Took me a little while to actually get into the game but I was fortunate enough to have my teammates do their thing and lead the way.  In the middle of the set we were all in the groove and battled back to tie it up in the 20's.  We had our older and more experienced middle playing this match and he has one of the best serves in the league...39 years old.  Boco, our older middle, went back and pretty much closed the first set out by him self from the service line.  It was a good feeling to know that we weren't playing our best and still won the set.

Group celebration after a point. 

In the second set we jumped all over them with more energy knowing that we needed to try and close them out as they were down.  I think we came out with a 4 or 5 - 1 lead and never really looked back.  With consistent serving and good passing our setter could really distribute the ball and throw their block off.  I'm not sure the final score but we closed it out pretty comfortable.

The third set we built a lead and were looking strong.  I think we lead in the first time out 8-5 and maybe later in the set 17-14 but we had a minor brain fart and some bad reception that lead to a bunch of errors and a sway in our momentum.  Panathanikos took us down 25-22 or something like that.

Fourth set was all us.  We knew we couldn't lose a point to them and came out on fire.  We built a safe lead and never looked back.  Our offense was smooth and almost every ball was going our way.  We made some digs that lead to some off the block swings for points.  We took the set 25-15 I believe.

Hercules at the top!

It was a nice way to start our Christmas break even though we didn't return back to Thessaloniki until 615 am the next day... LONG BUS RIDE!  However it is always nice to go into a break with a win and confidence.  Ryan Owens, the other American on our team played really well and was awarded the MVP of the 9th week on a side note.  It is really nice to see our team gelling as the days go by and the playoffs get closer.  I hope we can keep it up!

Slice down the line for my first point


I think this was the last point of the match

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 in Greece

 Recap of our Christmas weekend...We are so fortunate to have Jonathan and Jaimie Rose Winder living here in Thessaloniki with us.  We are also lucky to be part of a great team with good friends from all over Greece, America and Argentina.  On Friday, Christmas Eve, Brett and I woke up nice and late after I arrived at 6 am from our match in Athens.  We spent most of the day just lounging and reading our new book the Hunger Games (Thank you Nellie Spicer for the suggestion).  We had arranged to have dinner with the Winders and my good friend Rodrigo Quiroga at a near by hotel with live music and a 6 course meal...with a bottle of wine per person!  It made for a really great night with good conversation, food and the over all Christmas feeling.

On Christmas day, Brett and I woke up with Hercules to open our presents and have some coffee.  We were def missing home and our family as we got to skype with many of them but its just not the same.  The same group from the night before decided to watch Little Fockers for the afternoon and then meet up at Jonathan and Jaimie Rose's house later in the evening for Christmas dinner.  I have to give it up to the ladies for cooking up a feast!  Jonathan did a great job on the turkey as well.  Just as good or not better than the one he cooked us for Thanksgiving.

Overall we had a fantastic weekend with great friends and lots of food and drinks.  Here are some pic's of the weekend.

Merry Christmas 2010

Table decoration at Nikopolis Hotel on Christmas Eve

Group shot with the Winders


The cousin - Rodrigo
Rodrigo, Jonathan and me

A Winder tradition - Pre dinner Cigars

Herc and his ornament look alike


Christmas Bow

I think he likes the paper more than the present

Tree with home made ornaments by Brett

Stars, moon and a stocking 

My favorite

Wishing you all a SAFE and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Game 8 - Panallenios

Last Saturday we played the last place team in the league.  The have only won one match in their first 7.  We had a full week to prepare for this match but at the same time we had to look past them on to our match that we play this Thursday with Panathanikos....who is currently in 1st place.  We had a good week of focused training and no injuries.

We came out of the gates pretty quick and took advantage of some good serving and their mistakes.  The set got close at 19-17 but Iraklis regrouped and built the lead back to 21-17 or so.  Then Coach Brooks decided to give some of our bench some minutes and they played great.  We took the first set fairly easy.

The second set Freddy (our coach) started two of our back up outside hitters again.  They did exactly as they were supposed to do.  They served the ball well and put away some good balls after our defense.  It was a really good step for them in the right direction and just what our team needs to build some confidence in our bench.  After we built a good lead in the 2nd set we also changed our setter who came in a played great as well to close out the set.  

In the 3rd set we started with Rodrigo and our young OH, Micho.  We also stared with our young opposite (15 years old).  A reminder of our young opposite George...he is 15 YEARS OLD and prob 6 feet 8 inches.  He played amazing.  I think he was 4 for 5 in kills and had an ace with a couple difficult serves as well.  I call him Mykros George which mean little George but he is going to be a stud when he puts on a little muscle.  The team played great battling back and fourth until we built enough points to put our entire second squad in.  They all played great and won the match 3-0.  

Now back to work for our match on Thurs in Athens.  We don't get to fly this time so its gonna be a long bus ride.  Our last trip to Athens we flew which only takes 45 minutes or so but the bus is gonna take us 7 hours or more.  SUCKS!!!

I hope everyone is gearing up for Christmas and to those of you in Europe I hope you are handling the blizzard that I keep hearing about!  

P.S..We are now in 2nd place by ourselves and 1 point behind Panathanikos.  If we win on Thursday we will be in 1st place.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Trim Hunter


"After a long night wandering le piere hermosa in search of trim and shivering frescas, Lennon soon found himself in unknown territory."  

Trim Hunter

My friend

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hercules meet the meet Hercules.

Since he has a Greek passport and our club's name Iraklis means Hercules we thought this little God should have an appropriate name.  Therefore I would like to introduce the newest member of our family...HERCULES! 

he's a member of team crazy eyes

Skyping with uncle Mikey

I'm just so sleepy

Hercules is a 4 month old Pug.  He was born on Aug 20th, 2010.  

Jan 10th - Auburn vs Oregon

Here I am again jumping on a bandwagon.  Oregon, plain and simple for the BCS National Champions.  It would be nice to see another Pac 10 team take it down...for the Trojans.  What are some of your thoughts?



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Game 7 - Epikorous

So after the league went on strike for a week, we resumed play this past weekend.  We picked up where we left off, which means we played the match that we missed...delaying the league another week.  From my understanding the Gov singed the papers of their agreement to give each team the 100,000 euros for the season...which comes in two installments of 50k euros.  Seems a lot of the teams are still waiting for the 2nd payment from last season however.  Who knows?

After almost 2 weeks with only training we won our match with Epikorous 3-1.  We should had won 3-0 as we were up 22-18 and rolling in the 3rd set leading the match 2-0.  At 22-18 our coach decided to give our second setter a chance to play but it turned out to be a bad decision.  In defense to Stelios, our second setter, it was not his fault at all.  Any athlete knows that coming off the bench after standing around for 1 hour is a difficult task.  He came in ice cold (yes, the gym was freezing) and prob a little surprised to be put in.  After they scored 1 point on us our team got shook.  He gave me a good set at 22-21 from position 4 but I wanted to put it away for him so bad that I made an error and hit it in the net.  Needles to say, Epikorous made run at us and we weren't able to finish out the set.  We took care of it in the 4 set however...which I am happy with the way our team responded.

Another thing I want to mention is all the junk in the newspapers and news.  In my opinion there are a lot of RUMORS circulating about all players.  Every day I hear about someone who is leaving or already left and then I find out that he is still there and this and that.  I think the journalists from each team are just trying to stir the pot and be on the story first...but it is all speculation.  Everyone knows the situation here in Greece is bad...please don't try and make it worse.

Here are some pic's I was sent from the internet of our last match.

After 7 matches our team is in 3rd place with 16 points.  The 1st and 2nd place teams are tied with 17 points so we are in a good spot.  We still need to play both Paok and Panathanikos.  

Recent trip to Athina

Check out Brett's blog about our last adventure to Athens and the Acropolis at  She put a few of the pic's up from our 24 hr trip.

One of the pic's she posted from the Acropolis

Monday, December 13, 2010

SIP in Malibu

If you live in California or are just visiting you must make a trip to SIP in Malibu.  Not only do they have some of the best wines I have ever tasted from Cielo Winery in Malibu but the owners are great friends of my family and they have really put together an amazing spread!  It is a great spot for taking a group of friends or even a special evening with a loved one.  I guarantee you will leave with a smile on your face.  If you get there please tell Richard and Diana I say hello :)  

This is the outdoor patio of SIP in Malibu

There are several fire pits to sit by while drinking wine

My dad at the Sept 11th 2010 Wineclub party!

Hirsh Estate

Hirsh Estate along with their vineyard

To view Cielo wines and order online click here!  

SIP Malibu
2598 Sierra Creek Road
Malibu California, 90265