Sophomore Alicia Wennberg got the opportunity this summer to participate in an event no other Owl on the roster took part in: The World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
Wennberg, a native of Norway, received an email from the Norwegian national team’s head coach towards the end of her freshman year at Temple, inviting her to be on the roster of 12 athletes. Wennberg says she was amazed that the coach would reach out to her.
“The World University Games were on a level beyond anything I have ever experienced before,” Wennberg said. “It was very professional and the level was extremely good. It was a whole new thing for me to play in front of thousands of spectators and being on TV and everything with the Norwegian flag on my chest. It was definitely one of my proudest moments.”
“It was so cool competing against Olympians and professionals,” Wennberg added. “It was a huge inspiration for me to both watch and play great teams from different continents that play with different styles. I left Kazan with great memories and more motivation than ever before. The competition really gave me a perspective on where I am as a player and what I can work on to get better. The University Games was a great experience—not just on court, but the whole frame around the arrangement, and hopefully I’ll be back in 2014 in Korea.”
Among the teams Norway played were Canada, Brazil, Hong Kong and the United States. Temple volleyball coach Bakeer Ganes says the experience Wennberg had this summer is one she will remember for a long time.
“We are really proud of her not just representing her own country, but also representing her teammates and the Temple University volleyball program as a whole,” coach Bakeer Ganes said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for her to compete on a really high level. It’s also an amazing chance for her to represent her home country of Norway. A lot of people do not get the chance to do that and it is something that Alicia will treasure for the rest of her life”.
Wennberg says one of the challenges of playing on the team was that the women didn’t have the opportunity to practice together because the players and coaches live in different places around the world.
“We pretty much had to get to know each other during the tournament,” Wennberg said. “Not ideal, but we made the best out of it. We did not win any games, but we almost beat Hong Kong. However, we had great progress throughout the tournament, and as a team we’re one step closer to where we want to be.”
With three years remaining in her collegiate career, Ganes says her participation in the University Games was quite valuable for her future.
“I believe she is really going to benefit from this,” Ganes said. “First of all, she gets the opportunity to play all summer and train with the national team, which keeps her in great shape and at the top of her game. But also she gets this opportunity of competing in an environment where players from different countries are there and meeting and ready to play different styles of volleyball”.
As a freshman, Wennberg only saw action in 12 games, but according to Ganes, playing time could increase this year thanks to the opportunity she had this summer.
“Her chances of playing more will now increase because she is a more complete and experienced player because of this summer,” Ganes said. “Whenever you have an appearance in the World University Games on your resume, it really improves your opportunities and chances to get more playing time.”
Having returned from the University Games, Wennberg is now looking towards the 2013 season for the Owls.
“I am very excited for this upcoming season,” Wennberg said. “Our team is looking really good and I look forward to show the other teams in the American Athletic Conference what we are capable of. There are teams in The American that play on a very high level, which is going to be challenging for us, but I will say it is in a positive way. Nothing is better and more motivating than a good challenge, so I am very excited for the season to start.”
Rich Fogel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.