Veronica Smeltzer Diary: My Icelandic Adventure – Part Five

After two canceled flights, one overnight stay in Boston, and a drive from Keflavik airport at midnight, I had finally made it to where I intended to play my second season of football abroad- Grindavík, Iceland. As I found my way to the small fishing village off the southwestern coast of Iceland, I pulled into the driveway of my home for these next two weeks; a modest apartment owned by the club’s basketball team, where I would carry out the mandatory two week quarantine the country had imposed on all incoming arrivals to the island. As I adjust to living alone these next two weeks and to the never ending summer sun, there have been a few minor setbacks I had to navigate around.

Having been following national guidelines in the US while working at Starbucks Coffee and being unable to go to any fields or gym (I was kicked off quite a few times by my alum Limestone College campus security), I was limited to running and at-home workouts like the rest of the world. Unfortunately, I did not have the best yard for goalkeeping, but I did buy a reactionary net where one could throw the ball at and work on handling and reactionary saves. With that, I also focused many of my workouts around my position; footwork, power drills, sprint intervals, and strength training. I was lucky enough to have one resistance band at home and two 10-pound weights, but that was it in regards to workout equipment. I was creative though and utilized objects at home to make due. For example, creating a ‘kettle bell’ with a backpack full of heavy items, or using a broom to complete eccentric squatting or single leg activities were a few of the makeshift ideas I brought to life: being home most definitely brought out the best of human innovation in humanity for sure.

 

Upon arriving to Iceland though, I had to figure out how to work out without having any equipment. With a few pots and pans in my apartment, even my innovation was pushed to the limit. While quarantining I was not allowed to enter any buildings, and had to remain a minimum of two meters away from any person at all times. I was allowed to go on walks or runs around the town as I pleased, but had to do so in a manner of caution. The town of Grindavík is positioned directly along the coast, where a walk to the sea is just under five minutes. The scenery is utterly stunning to say the least; rolling hills covered in lush, vibrant moss, and deep blue waves clamoring against the rocky shoreline-it’s hard to describe the true beauty of this place. My love for photography was once more renewed, for I spent most of my time outside, photographing the unique architecture and eerie landscape surrounding me. Even though I was eager to begin practicing once more, I couldn’t help but appreciate the natural beauty that surrounded me- how enchanting this country was and how much I had missed it.

When it came to practicing with my team, that was not allowed obviously. Thus, for two weeks while the team was together, I’d put on my football kit and boots, take my bag of five balls and rack of cones, and go into a corner of the field where no one was practicing. Though practicing individually, I tried to go as often as I could when the team was practicing to feel connected with the squad. One, to show that I was just as committed as them to training and preparing for the season ahead, but as well as to adjust to the time difference and our normal practice time- 18:00 P.M. roughly. The girls were just as happy to see me as I would be joining them on the pitch- just two meters apart. As they prepared for two upcoming friendly matches, I watched from the side, evaluating the team that would be before me on the pitch rather soon. For as soon as I was cleared to practice with the team and integrate into society once more, I will have a game four days after- not much time to prepare at all really.

Photo: Veronica Smeltzer

I am also lucky to have a very dedicated goalkeeper coach that would send me plans that I could complete on my own with the tools I was given by the club. In doing so, he would write them out, send me videos for reference, and always asked if I had any questions before the start of the session. Unlike last season whereas my coach was Serbian and spoke little English, this year was already off to a tremendous start, a ‘one-eighty’ if you will.

With the end of my quarantine quickly approaching, I recount on how short these two weeks have actually been. Living alone has been fine- surrounded by books, a beautiful town, and the ability to still workout, everything seemed in order. Though with such amenities, one doesn’t truly recognize the need or want for human interaction until it’s taken away. Even the simplest tasks of going to the market seems as if a distant memory, and a luxury I cannot afford. Soon though I shall be surrounded by teammates once more- and be a contributing member of society. With the ‘Milk Cup’ in our sights, the only thing that has been certain from this period of isolation is one thing- this team will do everything they can to see Grindavik promoted at the ed of this season.