U.S. Women’s National Team member Jordan Larson answers some of our questions as she travels the road to the Summer Olympics.
What is it like having the legendary Karch Kiraly as a coach?
It was been great. He obviously has a ton of experience and he can relate to the situations we are put in. I find myself questioning him for hours. It is fun to pick his brain and learn more about him and what he has learned over the years.
Was going to the Olympics always a goal of yours, or did things just sort of fall into place this way?
This has always been a dream of mine. I sat down with my parents at the age of 12 and wrote down three goals:
1) I wanted to start on my varsity team.
2) I wanted to play volleyball in college.
3) I wanted to play volleyball in the Olympics.
Many people thought I was crazy, but I sacrificed a lot to be in the position I am today.
Is your husband Luke going to be traveling to London with you? Any other family members or friends going?
Yes, I am excited to say my husband will be attending. In addition, my immediate family and friends will also be attending and supporting the team in London. The first person to support my Olympic dream was my mother Kae, but sadly she lost her battle with cancer nearly three years ago. However, I wear her necklace while I play and I know she will be there in spirit cheering me on as she was and is my biggest fan.
What kind of fitness and weightlifting training does the team do?
We have a program that occurs twice a week. Both sessions are a full body workout. What I have learned over the years about being a professional athlete is that it is important to keep on top of lifting because our bodies are being broken down on the court and you have to build some muscle in the gym in order to be able to perform at a high level and stay healthy. It is something I have struggled with because we are playing all year round and it is very difficult to find the energy. In college you had an off-season where you could focus on building your muscles and getting stronger.
How integral to success is building strong relationships with your teammates?
It is very important. I do not believe you need to be best friends but you need to be able to respect the player for who they are and what they bring to the team and the sport. If you can accept them and love them for who they are, it creates a great environment for success. If you happen to become great friends, so be it, but it’s not a must.
What would you be doing if you weren’t playing volleyball professionally and for your country?
This is a question I often ask myself. I honestly do not know what I would be doing! Volleyball has been such a huge part of my life I don’t think it is something I could stop doing completely. Whether I would be a coach or mentor I think I would still have to be involved some way. During my senior year at the University of Nebraska I did an internship in the development office of the Athletic Department. I really enjoyed seeing the background of how things work. I think I could see myself doing something along those lines.
Are you excited to return from Russia and begin training exclusively with Team USA?
I am really excited to get back in the USA gym this summer. We have a lot to prepare for and I look forward to seeing all the girls and competing hard to play on one of the biggest stages in the world.
Larson is one of several USA athletes participating in Mizuno’s interactive Facebook showcase The Journey. Larson will be posting video diaries and blog posts, as well as tweeting, as she trains for and travels to the Olympic games. Access “The Journey” and submit your own video diary.
Originally published in June 2012