So many times coaches say "If I had six ________'s we'd never lose a game"...
I bet someone has said that about Courtney Thompson at some point in her career. Truth is at the highest level that's probably a little unrealistic, but you can't win without a Courtney Thompson. Courtney is the volleyball equivalent of the hockey "grinder", not afraid to go into the corner and take a hit to make a play, not afraid to take a beating in front of the net to screen the goaltender. She may never be the person to go end to end, deke the goalie and go top shelf, but she will be the person who makes the big play at the right time, and make all the little plays all the time.(This concludes the hockey portion of this post!)
Courtney Thompson has made the most of what she does. She has traveled the world with the National Team, won a silver medal at the Olympics, a World Championship in Milan, and has had a wonderful professional career. She was also the subject of a beautifully filmed documentary called "Court and Spark". "Court and Spark" celebrates volleyball and showcases Courtney's effervescent personality. It has been passed around our team this year to rave reviews!
Opening my email to find answers to my questions is such a rush, and today was extra special because it's impossible not to love Courtney. Without further adieu, here is Jamming in Five Questions with Courtney Thompson!
Current Location: Zurich Switzerland
Team Name: Volero Zurich
College: University of Washington
It's been a brutal summer, lots of reps, tons of quality play, and top it off with a World Championship! How are you feeling after all of that, and is there just a little let down prior to getting started with your pro team?
This summer was pretty incredible. Everyday is fun training in our gym; and the cool part is that we enjoy the whole process just as much as we do the end result. Looking back on all the progress we made, and of course having it all come together to win the World Championships- it's just really humbling. I'm very thankful to be apart of this program, with this coaching staff, and all my teammates... it's a special group. What hits me the most is how many great players have played this game both for the USA team and also in national teams around the world- and out of all those great players how few of them have been fortunate enough to experience winning a tournament like that. It's surreal, and I'm just humbled and thankful to be apart of it.
After the tournament I got to spend a week at home with friends and family to re-charge the batteries before heading to Zurich. It happened fast, but thankful for every second I get at home!
The atmosphere in Italy looked awesome! How did it feel to play in front of such a stimulated crowd and how can we get that kind of excitement for some big matches here in the States?
There's nothing better than playing the best competition in the world in front of a crowd like there was in Italy. The gym was electric- the fans were incredible, and the whole tournament was just really well run. Someone sent me a picture of the gym right before we went onto the floor to play in the finals and I can't help but shake my head at how cool it is that I got to play in an environment like that. As a sports fan, and as an athlete, I just don't think it gets much better than that. I think volleyball is growing in our country, and it's an exciting sport- so I think the more exposure it gets in the states- it will continue to catch on.
The Tournament was full of tense moments, none more than coming from behind in the fourth game in the finals. What kind of things does Karch say in the huddle to keep you guys calm and confident?
Karch is just steady. He's the same in practice as he in in games- and he doesn't change based on the circumstances or the environment we're in. I think that's a strength of his, and it's carried over to become a strong characteristic of our team. We do what do and attack every point with the same intensity- wherever we are, whatever time it is, whoever we're playing against, no matter what is at stake. Because of that all of our conversations are about what we need to do to win the next point. He's an extremely intense competitor, but it's a calm-focused intensity. It's usually informational, and topped off with some sort of- now let's go GET SOME!
You are just arriving in another new city, preparing to play for another new team. Are there any familiar faces with you, and do you kind of embrace the challenge of constantly learning new things on the road?
This is year has been great because it's the first time I've been able to play for a club team two years in a row. It's been really nice to come back to a place where I know the staff, and a lot of the players, have friends... etc. We also have two other Americans on our team this year- Natalie Hagglund and Emily Hartong... which is always a positive thing. Having familiar faces on your team, and people from home is huge. With sports, there is always inevitable ups and downs during a season and having people that you know well, and that you connect with, makes going through all of that so much better. The tough part about overseas is going through those valleys when you're somewhat on your own- and I definitely don't feel on my own this year. And I'm very thankful for that.
That being said... there have been times in my career where that wasn't the case- and as tough as those times were, I am thankful for them. In this line of work you really have to embrace every challenge and obstacle, and have faith that if you keep doin the right thing even when it isn't easy- it's going to pay off down the road. I think we're challenged in very unique ways as athletes competing overseas- and it's a wonderful thing. It forces you to get out of your comfort zone and I've certainly benefited from all those times.
You have made your home in so many different countries. What food did you try thinking there is no way I'm going to like this, and it ended up being pretty good?
I have a pretty open mind when it comes to food, and actually can't think of anything that really surprised me. I've been lucky to get to try a lot of good food everywhere I've been!
Ellen and I are huge fans of Court and Spark! We just love how it was shot and how it celebrates volleyball and life...
Did you continue playing golf, and is that something you see yourself doing more of when you hang up the sneakers? (I laugh thinking you'll scream and celebrate after every made putt!!!)
Ha! I for sure have a hard time controlling my emotions on the golf course. Playing so much volleyball, I think I just got used to celebrating after every good play. I haven't been golfing as much, since our summer was so busy, but I do hope to get into it once I'm finished with my playing career. It's a fun way to spend time with people, be active, and be outside... which are all things that make me happy. Hopefully I can get decent enough at it to enjoy it!