Inspiration: Courtney Thompson

      I just went back over all of the "Five Question" segments and was really surprised to find there are now 24 posts. That is 144 questions(remember there is always a bonus question!) and 144 great answers.  Still, as always, I'm curious, so I ventured to ask one more.  Initially I intended to make this one big post, with as many of the answers as I could get back from the volleyball players who have already graced this blog with their responses, then I got one back that was so compelling to me that I thought it deserved it's own.  What question sparked such a response?  Here it is, as I emailed it to our 20 volleyball players and coaches...

      There was a time before World Championships, National Championships, State Championships, and whatever else, that each of you were just starry eyed girls...
Was there a moment of inspiration, a coach, a person, a particular play, a particular match, that changed everything that came after it?
Just a short story about what elevated you to where you are, and what still gets your heart racing and the blood flowing???
Can't wait to hear your replies!

     It didn't take long to get a response back.  As in all of the replies I collected for our "Five Questions" segments before, it was wonderfully crafted and well written, so much so that to me it was like a scene from a really special and inspiring movie.  So without diluting it any further with my words, here is "Inspiration" with Courtney Thompson! 

 The 2012 USA Women's Volleyball team that traveled to London for the Olympic Games

The 2012 USA Women's Volleyball team that traveled to London for the Olympic Games

      "I was talking with Tama(Miyashiro) last night about your e-mail, and we were discussing how it's so hard to pick one moment.  There were so many 'little' moments that had such an impact on our lives and where we are today... and it's such a process.  Sports are so humbling... there are constant trials, frustrations, moments of success, and countless setbacks, and when you learn from them it just adds a deeper level of understanding of not only the game, but yourself.  The latter being maybe the most important tool for any sort of having true confidence in a perceived tough moment.  Anyhow- the one that I keep coming back to is what I decided to go with... 

So here's my answer-

     Our sports psychologist Mike Gervais tells us that the biggest catalyst of change is a painful experience.  One of the most inspiring moments of my career was sitting in my dorm room in the Olympic Village the day after my team lost in the Gold Medal Match in the 2012 London Olympics.  I can still smell the room, feel the pit in my stomach, hear the other athletes running around outside- all relaxing since the games were over, and I can still taste the feeling of what our locker room felt like after that game. 

I was sitting in my room with Tama and Christa... and we went over everything; how we were feeling, how it all went so fast, what we wish we did differently... but most importantly the conversation quickly left the subject of 'what just happened' and changed to 'what could happen.'  I will never forget that talk with two of my best friends as we sat there, looked at each other, and all agreed that we have to come back.  With very few words, the three of us committed to doing everything within our power to help this team and this program not only get back to the Olympic Final, and the pinnacle of our sport, but equally important to us was HOW we were going to do that.  What would this program stand for, what would we be about, how would we represent our country, how would we impact the community around us as we strive to reach our full potential everyday... these were the thoughts that consumed us and ignited the fire.  It was such a powerful moment after such an intense experience of playing in our first Olympics, mixed with the heartbreak of not playing our best when we most wanted to... and the motivation that was locked in at that moment was like nothing I had ever felt before.  I go back to it all the time... and within me, it's the foundation of what we've worked so hard to build in the last two years.  It's something that I'm incredibly thankful for, as I know I wouldn't be the player or person I am without going through all that.  It's also a special experience to go through high's and low's such as this with close teammates.  Every time Tama and Christa (or any other teammate) share their dreams and ideas for what could be... it just adds to that level of motivation.  The power in committing to something as a group never ceases to amaze me, and I'm thankful for every teammate of mine that continues to bring inspiration every day."

     So there is life after disappointment, refocus after tears and heartache.  I have been amazed at the work ethic I have seen in this team, and now I know it's genesis.  Defeat is our greatest teacher, and the lessons from that dorm room in London have propelled the American's to the top of the podium in Milan, and towards their ultimate goal, a Gold Medal in Rio at next summer's Games.  

     The band gets back together in Anaheim in May, and through competitions and repetitions will continue the march towards Rio.  We can't wait to see where this group will go.  Best of luck to all of you as you conclude your club seasons and head back home.  We'll catch up in Omaha, July 22nd to the 26th for The Grand Prix.  

    This is the way you kick off a new segment.  We are hoping for more great stories to share from our "Five Questions" alumni's regarding their own "inspiration".  Thank you Courtney for a great start and a compelling peek into what makes you tick.