BERKELEY – After spending 26 nights on two different continents during a 32-day span this summer, Cal middle blocker Lillian Schonewise did what anyone in her right mind would do.
She went to Las Vegas.
OK, so this wasn’t a “Bright Lights, Big City”-type of trip to Vegas. Schonewise met her family there to sit by the pool, celebrate her younger brother’s birthday and take in a few World Cup games.
But when she finally returned to Berkeley on July 3, Schonewise had spent exactly five days in Northern California since May 24. In between, she logged 31,025 air miles.
“I didn’t know what to expect considering I had never done any serious international travel before,” Schonewise said. “Nobody else can say they’ve done it. It was fun. I knocked two continents out of the way in one month.”
Schonewise’s travels began the morning of May 24 when the Cal volleyball team embarked on a two-week tour of Europe. The Bears visited Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, playing exhibition matches against club and national teams while soaking in a cultural education.
The team returned to California on Saturday, June 7. That next Friday, Schonewise was on a plane for Los Angeles to begin practicing with a Pac-12 All-Star Team that was headed for a tour of China. Two nights later, the Pac-12 All-Stars flew across the globe to begin an 11-day trip as part of the conference’s Globalization Initiative, an effort to promote goodwill and showcase the Pac-12’s institutions in China through student-athlete exchanges and sport.
The Pac-12 All-Stars visited Shanghai, Sanming and Beijing, playing matches against professional and national teams while also getting a chance to sightsee and get a cultural experience.
The team returned to Los Angeles on June 27. Schonewise then flew directly from L.A. to Las Vegas.
“I’m glad to not be living out of a suitcase anymore,” Schonewise said. “I’ve learned about different things and myself as a person. You learn a lot traveling, especially internationally. You put yourself in situations that might be uncomfortable and see how you react in those situations.”
Schonewise’s time in the air was augmented during the Pac-12 All-Stars’ flight from Shanghai to Fuzhou, which is a three-hour drive from Sanming. The team flew from Los Angeles to Shanghai, with a layover in Hong Kong in between. After an afternoon of sightseeing in Shanghai, the All-Stars were then scheduled to continue on to Fuzhou. Typically a one-hour flight, the team’s plane was forced to circle in the air for an additional two hours because of a nearby typhoon. This came after a three-hour delay departing Shanghai in the first place.
“We didn’t sleep in a bed from Sunday night to Wednesday morning,” Schonewise said.
Schonewise and the All-Stars were afforded the chance to see all of the notable Chinese landmarks – the Great Wall of China, Silk Market, Tiananmen Square, etc. Schonewise said it also allowed student-athletes to squash stereotypes they may have of different players or teams across the Pac-12.”
“We talked about what we thought about each other before the trip and what we think of each other now,” Schonewise said. “Everybody was all over the place.”
Schonewise, a redshirt junior and a returning starter who led the Bears in hitting percentage during their European Tour, will be integral to the team’s prospects in 2014. She said her experiences with the Pac-12 All-Stars should help her as a leader next season.
“Learning how to use my voice and be a leader in a situation where everyone is used to being a leader on her own team will help,” Schonewise said. “Finding that balance and still being confident enough to speak and address people, I think will carry over with the incoming freshmen and my current teammates. And dealing with adversity in international volleyball and applying that to team situations, keeping the team focused and together.”
Schonewise and the Bears open training camp on Aug. 9. The 2014 season begins Aug. 29 at the Air Force Tournament.