Guest Post by Michael Amoroso from Momentum Pro Sports
It was a few days after New Years in 2015, at the start of practice in Athens, with Panathinaikos Volleyball Club. Sport in Greece involves a ton of passion and usually an incredibly wild fan base. Panathinaikos had several elite sports and is still one of the largest sport clubs in Greece with over 1 million supporters. I had just returned from a fantastic trip north to Bulgaria, to visit the Queen’s University Men’s Volleyball Team - they were there training before a Bulgarian tournament. I returned ‘home’ to Athens on January 2nd to rejoin my club for practice the next day.
We were rested and ready to fight through the second half of the season. We had an exciting grudge match coming up on home court, against rival club Panachaiki. At the time, Panachaiki was the home of Canadians Steve Gotch and Steve Brinkman, and matches with them were always exciting (for a variety of reasons – the last match broke out into a fistfight between our supporters and theirs, a common practice in the Greek Volley League). Our new coach, Coach K, was just about to start his pre-practice meeting in Greek, which would be translated by a teammate for myself, Jared Moore (American roommate, fellow Middle Blocker), and Danijel Galic (Croatian international Outside Hitter). Just as coach was about to begin, members of our fan club arrived for an unannounced visit.
They came about 40 strong, many holding their motorcycle helmets, and walked right across our court to join our pre-practice meeting. Their ‘leader’ spoke to us as a group for about 3 minutes in Greek, and to this day I have not gotten a full translation of what he said. However, it was very serious, and all the Greek players and staff listened intently. When he was finished, the fan club departed, Coach K finished his meeting and we began practice. I asked our team captain “What was that all about?”, to which he said their message was simple: “We’ll be at this next game – Win… Or else.”
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