The first thing that strikes you when you watch Lauren Gibbemeyer play volleyball is the joy and enthusiasm she brings to the court. Then you notice how effective she is...
Before bursting onto the scene with Team USA "Gibby" starred at the University of Minnesota, where she was twice named AVCA All-American, and ended her college career by leading the Gophers in total blocks/all-time(593).
She joined the National Team in 2011, and she lead the Red, White and Blue to consecutive Gold Medals in the Pan Am Games in 2012-13. Not to shabby for a kid that started playing as a High School Freshman! Meet American Middle Blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer!
Current Location-Casalmaggiore, Italy
Pro Team-Pomi VBC
University of Minnesota
You played your High School and Club ball in Minnesota. What is it about that region that is turning out such athletic players, and what made you choose the University of Minnesota after High School?
Volleyball has definitely grown a lot over the years in the Midwest region and I think it has a lot to do with the many competitive JO clubs that are now available. While I was playing in high school, there were only a couple very strong club teams in MN which has now increased, giving many more kids an opportunity to play. I also think kids are drawn to these club teams because they have seen many athletes develop into great players who end up getting a college scholarship and also for the team bonding/traveling aspect. I remember in my JO days how excited I was to go on trips with my teammates and being able to see some places that I would never have had the chance to see without volleyball.
What advice do you have for High School juniors just starting the process and what enabled you to make the next step into Division I volleyball?
If you are someone who is seriously considering playing division I volleyball, my advice would be to play for a good club team that will play in some big tournaments and give your team exposure to college coaches. Once you have some communication with the college coaches, be sure to ask many questions and go on as many visits as you can. Write down the things that are the most important to you and discuss them with college coaches to help you decide the best fit.
As we have discussed before you and Ellen have Coach Hebert in common. What makes Mike an outstanding coach and what was his best advise for you?
Coach Mike is an extraordinary coach because he is constantly learning the game. Some coaches have the tendency to stick to one way of doing things, but not Mike. He has a great eye for detail and is one of the best in regards to the psychological side of the game. When I was in college, he was always trying to find different ways for our team to be the absolute best we could through every detail. Whether it was watching old video of the Cuban national team during hitting warm ups, testing out a strict Zone Diet, or doing particular team-bonding exercises, Mike believed that there was so much more to a successful team than only what happens on the court. Although Mike gave me a lot of advice over the years, but the most memorable was the importance of being mentally tough, especially as I was learning how to embrace my role as captain.
After spending High School and College in the frozen tundra of Minnesota you move into the sunny climate of Southern California and the gym at American Sports Center! What is it like entering the gym with so many great players on a daily basis, and how have you improved personally because of it?
When I first walked into the ASC for my first summer of training, I have to admit that I was a little intimidated. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that I was good enough to play next to some of the greatest volleyball players in the world. However, I was surprised by how the older girls welcomed me and I quickly learned that despite the constant competition amongst us, we were all in it together. There are some pretty special women playing on the USA national team and I have been so lucky to have them as teammates and friends. My own personal growth in the USA gym can be contributed to a combination of failures, successes, and relationships that have formed over the years.
You have been in Italy for a while now. It must be very satisfying to be able to travel Italy and continue to play the game you love! What is your favorite thing about the region you are in and how impressed are you with the fans of Pomi Casalmaggiore?
You are very right! I love living and playing in Italy for many reasons but I’d have to say the best part about being in this particular region is that I am close to many of the major cities. I have been able to spend my free days in Venice, Milan, Florence, and Lago di Garda without driving for hours on end. It is also nice to be close to the other teams because that means we can travel on the day of our matches instead of always spending a night in a hotel. As for our fans here in Casalmaggiore, they have been fantastic! Every time I’m walking around the city, there’s always at least one friendly person who stops me to chat and give words of encouragement for our team. It truly does feel like a little family and I couldn’t be happier or more thankful for the support here!
Both Italy and Poland(Men's Finals) afforded themselves well as hosts for the World Championships in 2014. What can we do as American fans to make the atmosphere in Omaha, NE. as electric as it was in Milan?
Hmmm I am asked this question a lot and I truly think that American fans need to be more loud and “annoying”. I know that sounds really strange, but its true! For example, in many other countries, the fans are constantly banging on some sort of drum or noise maker and singing well known songs for the ENTIRETY of the matches. Literally no breaks. One team’s fan section rivals the other and it makes for an even more exciting atmosphere to play. At first I thought it was a little annoying, but I have come to love the passion and dedication!