Veronica Smeltzer Diary: My Icelandic Adventure, Part Four

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It’s been quite a while since I last wrote an article detailing my football experience and journey, but there’s a reason for it; the entire world is currently at a standstill. With the expedited arrival of the COVID-19 virus throughout the entire globe, everything that once was is no more. Schools have been closed, shopping malls and stores locked for weeks, and even something that was taken for granted, going outside for a simple stroll, has been outlawed. A few weeks ago towards the end of March I was supposed to be boarding an airplane, heading for same destination I was last summer: Grindavik, Iceland. I was scheduled to head back for my second season in the Land of Fire and Ice with one goal in mind- promoting back to the first league of Iceland. I had no idea that my world, like everyone else’s, was about to be turned upside-down.

Before I re-signed for a second year for Grindavik in February, I had many other priorities other then football. For starters, after returning to the U.S. last October, I jumped straight into a job. I needed to begin earning money before my next contract abroad. Being a California native, I decided yet again to go back to Gaffney, South Carolina to pursue a position in the workforce. In doing so, I was able to not only utilize my alum university strength and conditioning facility but as well as train/help out with my college football team. Thus began my routine of a morning workout/session, going to work at Starbucks, and then home in the late afternoon to catch a practice.

Being a barista at Starbucks Coffee allowed me to have a very flexible schedule. I was able to trade shifts with other ‘partners’ (the company’s term for employee) to ensure I was not only scheduled enough hours but also that I would be able to make practices or games. I spent most of my mornings opening the store, brewing coffee, making lattes, and greeting customers through the holiday season until early March. Being quite the coffee connoisseur, I was elated to work in an environment where I could learn more about one of my favourite hot drinks (second to tea that is) and join a great company that truly supports their employees.

Once spring football started up again in the states in late January, I adjusted my schedule once more to ensure I would be able to train the goalkeepers for each of their sessions. Though I wasn’t able to make every practice, I did make a majority of them. When working with the Limestone women’s soccer team, at the beginning of sessions I would take the keepers to one side of the field and have a set amount of time to work with them. Some days I’d have enough time for a quick warm-up, while other days we’d be together for an hour; it all depended on head coach Sam Holmes’s training schedule. As a result, I was the interim goalkeeper coach for the remainder of the semester before spring season was cancelled.

I signed with Grindavik in February of this year. In the end, playing with the team I was with last year made the most sense. For not only was I going to be the only foreigner on the team for the 2020 season, but I was offered a salary increase, as well as a few smaller additions that I hadn’t had in my prior contract. In addition, I discussed with my agent Michael Beatty, that loyalty is an aspect that is often overlooked with players. Many times, footballers jump from one team to another rather quickly, ready to move at the slightest of offers. Clubs are looking for players to make a difference for not simply a single year, but often times to build the foundation for the future of the club too. I had loved my time in Iceland, and the town of Grindavik had been utterly amazing throughout my time there. The supportive community was one of the most wonderful aspects of living in a small fishing town off the southwest corner of the island. Going back seemed like the only right decision for me.

So here I am, waiting for a call. The world currently sits in silence, as if holding one’s breath for something to happen. As of now, the Pepsi division is set to begin in mid-June, and practices resuming in May. Even if the season goes on as planned and is merely delayed a few weeks, will I be able to make it over in time? Will flights be available? Will Iceland allow me to enter the country? Does the club need to take in to account I may need to ‘self-quarantine’ upon arrival for two weeks prior to beginning practise with the team?

Only time will tell.

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