Danielle Scott is coming to Pittsburgh as one of the many quality clinicians Give it Back is providing for their August camp. As I thought about what I wanted to ask someone who has been to five Olympics, the usual questions came to mind. Danielle was quick to answer them. Her replies were both informative and enlightening, but as I began the process of turning an email into a blog post, I realized that sometimes we have to ask tough questions. Danielle is so much more than a five time Olympian. Her journey, like many of our lives, includes some darkness. Danielle is resolved to emerge from the shadows of tragedy and sorrow and back into the light. Volleyball is not the only thing the athletes at Give it Back’s camp will learn. Within the lessons and techniques and drills will be something more. Danielle Scott is back. She is grace, personified.
Here are Danielle’s Five Questions, plus a hopeful message for whatever you might be up against, from someone who knows…
Q1 When did you first step on the court?
I was first introduced to volleyball during PE in elementary. After playing water girl like Adam Sandler in “Water Boy” during 6th grade, I played 7th and 8th grade middle school volleyball. Then during my sophomore year, I was introduced to club volleyball.
Q2 When did you know that you had a love for the game, and could you have ever imagined a long career spanning 5 Olympic appearances?
Really I loved all sports that I played. But it was something about volleyball that drew me in! I believe it was the sense of team, how we relied on one another. I think what sealed the deal is when I was training with the Portland Fire of the WNBA. It was after my first Olympics and I witnessed a player having her front tooth knocked out and then I was cut before the first preseason game. I thought I’d better stick with volleyball. But I never imagined that I would play as long until I did! I am super blessed.
Q3 What piece of advice do you give young players to keep a passion for the sport flowing over a career as long as yours?
I would advise young players to explore playing different sports. I was a four sport athlete plus club volleyball and AAU basketball in high school, and played three sports in college, including track my last year. I would suggest that young players be open to learning different styles and techniques. And finally, I would tell them to have fun and enjoy the process.
Q4 Does the magic of being named to an Olympic roster ever fade? What did it mean to you to represent the USA in five Olympics?
The magic for me never faded. Each year that I received my uniform and the chance to compete on the National team leading to possibly making the Olympic team and roster was exciting. I had the honor to represent the US five times. I joked that if I were scratched, I would bleed red white and blue. This honor is one of the reasons I coach with USA High performance in the summer. It’s definitely a humbling feeling to think of how few get this opportunity. I worked hard, made adjustments, and was blessed with great family, friends, and fan support to be able to sustain the high level of performance for multiple Olympic appearances.
Q5 You have played for many great coaches. What parts of each one did you take with you? How will you apply this to coaching the young athletes at Give it Back camp?
There are too many coaches to name but I will encourage players to try all the possible techniques. Though different methods may feel awkward, I will advise athletes to just keep up the effort and the results will come.
Have you been to Pittsburgh before? What would you like to see while you are in Da Burgh?
No, I don’t recall ever visiting Pittsburgh but I look forward to seeing the sights.
Usually, I’m satisfied here, but after piecing this together, I felt a gnawing. So I ask her former teammate and Give it Back co-founder Christa Dietzen to add something about Dani.
“We are thrilled to have Danielle on staff for the Give it Back foundation camp in Pittsburgh this summer. Dani brings a level of experience that not a lot of people have. Not only has she competed in five Olympic Games, but she has battled through adversity in several areas of her life. She is one of the strongest women I know. Her faith and dependence on God and the joy she has despite circumstances is inspiring to anyone who has the privilege of interacting with her. The girls coming to the Pittsburgh camp are in for a special treat with Dani on staff!”
So there was something more that needed to be said. You see, Danielle Scott has been through a lot in the last year. I wanted to give her the opportunity to deliver some hope where darkness and grief could exist. On November 18th, 2018, Danielle was badly injured trying to protect her sister Stefanie Vallery during a domestic dispute with Stefanie’s estranged husband. Stefanie died from her wounds and Danielle was left with multiple stab wounds. Her path back, both physically and mentally, would be difficult, but hope remains strong in someone who has been to the top, so, I asked her one more question…
What is it that gets you to the next day, and brings you hope in such a broken world?
What gets me to the next day is the hope, faith and expectation that tomorrow will be better than today. I “try” not to lean on my own understanding because some things just don’t make sense from our point of view. I know that there is a purpose in everything. It’s not always clear, but if I can remain grateful, if I can be positive, I can inspire myself to keep on keeping on and thus hopefully do that for someone else. And I have my baby girl who is getting to be a big girl now at age 9, standing 5’ tall, who is depending on me as well as so many others whom I might be able to share insight with because of my experience in this broken world. God is still good.
All from someone who knows them very well. Danielle Scott.
Thank you Danielle for the lessons in all of the above.
Athletes who are interested in attending Give it Back’s Pittsburgh camp on August 9th and 10th at Moon High School in Coraopolis can click here to register.