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Mar 07 Quotes from Hugh McCutcheon and Players Nominated to the Olympic Team

July 15, 2008, 5:09 p.m. (ET)

Quotes from U.S. Men’s National Team Members who have been nominated to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon

1. What family members will be going to Beijing to support you?

My wife will be there and her parents will be there for a few days as well. (McCutcheon is married to the former Elisabeth “Wiz” Bachman who played on the 2004 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team)

2. The team came so close to a medal in 2004. How will that experience affect the team in Beijing?

I think 2004 was a very tough experience for our guys because going the distance in this event is not only physically demanding, but it is mentally and emotionally draining as well. Having played the whole two weeks and coming up short, our players have a much better idea of what it takes to be successful. While the experience was fairly painful, as we go into this experience, it’s something we can draw from.

3. It must be very stressful being the head coach of an Olympic team. Have you been able to enjoy it as well?

I’m definitely looking forward to the Olympics. It is the culmination of a lot of work and a huge investment of time and energy. As we get to the end of the quad, I feel sort of bittersweet that it’s going to be over so quickly. I like our team. It’s been a great honor and privilege to coach this team. As we get to the Olympics, I’m going to stop and smell a rose or two and try to savor it, while concurrently working as hard as I can to be as successful.

Lloy Ball (Woodburn, Ind.; IPFW)

1. What family members will be going to Beijing to support you?

My wife and my oldest kid, Dyer, who will be 7 right before the Games, will be going. My mom and dad will be there and my best friend will be the team leader for Team Ball, making sure everyone gets where they need to be and help if anything comes up. That’s one thing we try to stress to the young guys who have not been to the Olympics before is that, even though you think you have your stuff together and your family well organized, Americans abroad can sometimes be real needy. Since we are seasoned travelers they look to us first for answers. We’re there for another reason besides leading expeditions to the Great Wall.

2. How are your experiences in the past three Olympic Games going to help you this year?

As you get older and have more big-match experience, you become more confident in your own game as an individual player and also as a team. We have a solid team, one through 12. The Olympics is such a different kind of tournament. It’s such an emotional ride up and down. It’s such a physically demanding tournament. We play the whole two weeks. Then you throw in the factor that swimmers are done in two days and they’re partying across the way in the village and weightlifters are done the first day... It’s just chaos all the time. It takes a real strong athlete and a real strong team to do real well. I think we had that in 2004. I think because we have so many guys carrying over from that, we’ll have it this time. I think we’re going to have a real nice result. We’ve been really consistent the last 2 years. The one thing we’ve stressed is that consistency and good play over time is going to win matches.

3. You have said this will be your last Olympic Games. What experiences are you hoping to take away?

I haven’t been to Opening Ceremonies since 1996. I missed 2000 because of my knee and I missed 2004 because we had to play the next day. This one I’m definitely going to take a little more in stride and I’m definitely going to try to take more of it in. I plan to mix and mingle in the village. I plan to meet and probably say good bye to some of the friends I have made along the way. I have no doubt Chins is going to do a wonderful job with this tournament. The eyes of the world are upon them and they’ll step up and do what they need to do to make it a great Olympics. One thing I decided going into this, when I decided to return, is that no matter how the team finishes, I was going to be OK. Obviously our goal is win a gold medal. But I know from experience that you need a little luck, you need a little timing. Sometimes we’ve had that and sometimes we have not. Regardless of the result, I know the team will give a great effort and I’ll be happy with that.

4. Will you return to play in Russia following the Olympic Games?

Yes, I will go right back to Russia. Right now the world of volleyball is in Eastern Europe, not just because of financial reasons but the leagues are really good. They love American players and what we bring to the table. As long as the wheels work, I’m going to keep playing. There’s a better life than playing a sport that you love. People ask me all the time what I’m going to do after (I retire). I tell them I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now I’m not a big fan of going into the coaching field, but that may change in four or five years. I’m a big fan of being a full-time father for a while.

Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.; Stanford)

1. Will you have any family or friends to support you in Beijing?

My whole immediate family will be going to Beijing: my father, mother and three brothers, their wives and girlfriends, my aunt and uncle and a few cousins. The only ones who will be missing are my wife and (one-year-old) son. Beijing will be a crazy place for a little one.

2. The team came so close to a medal in 2004. How will that experience affect the team in Beijing?

I think everyone will be a little hungrier. Expectations are higher as far as confidence. We know we are better than when we went to Athens. If we know we’re better then we know we can finish better. Obviously the best thing would just be to win a medal. I think it’s going to be a lot easier for us to play well in Beijing.

3. San Clemente, Calif., and Sacramento both claim you as their hometown athlete. Where are you living and where is your hometown?

I live in Sacramento. That is where my wife is from and where she and my son live right now. My hometown is San Clemente. That’s where I grew up playing volleyball, where I learned to play volleyball. That’s where my side of the family is from. I guess it’s fair to say I’m a hometowner from both places. I’d be happy to claim either place. San Clemente is in my heart and Sacramento has my love.

Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.; Stanford)

1. When did you know for sure that you had made the team? What was your reaction when you found out?

I knew for sure that I was going to make the team when Hugh took everyone into the locker room in Green Bay (during World League) and explained that this would be the 12 nominated to the USOC. It was an awesome moment and we all exchanged congratulations especially us first timers.

2. Will you have any friends or family traveling to Beijing? If so, who? If not, how do you plan to keep in touch with the folks at home?

My parents and two sisters will be going over to Beijing along with my girlfriend Sarah. It is very exciting that they will all experience such a wonderful moment with me in the Olympic Games.

3. While competition will obviously be your first priority, is there anything you really want to see or do while you are in Beijing.

I was hoping to maybe see the Great Wall of China because of its historical significance and possibly catch some other events.  Obviously we will not have too much time over there to do anything other than compete and train, but that is the reason we are there.

4. What is your prediction/hope for the competition in Beijing?

My prediction for the Olympic Games would be for our team to be on the medal podium.  We would all agree that the amount of effort and work we've put in and the quality of team play allow us to believe that anything short of a medal would be a disappointment. I also predict that it will probably be the most fun and the proudest moment I've ever felt to be representing the USA.

Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.; Long Beach State)

1. Will you have any friends or family traveling to Beijing? If so, who? If not, how do you plan to keep in touch with the folks at home?
 
I will have about 10 people, my wife, mom, dad, sister, brother and their families in China. There will be frequent calls and e-mails home to check on my three daughters.
 
2. While competition will obviously be your first priority, is there anything you really want to see or do while you are in Beijing.
 
I am not really thinking about doing anything in China outside of playing volleyball. That is why we are going and it was a four-year journey, so I will be focused on that task only.

3. The team came so close to a medal in 2004. How will that experience affect the team in Beijing?
 
Hopefully we will draw strength from seeing our great comeback versus Greece (in 2004) and knowing to never give up. Also, we saw how small the difference is between winning a medal and not when we played Russia in the bronze-medal match.

4. What is your prediction/hope for the competition in Beijing?
 
My prediction for Beijing is that the USA team will compete with the determination and focus that we have shown over our last four years. We will focus on playing the best volleyball that we can play on every given day.

Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.; BYU)

1. When did you know for sure that you had made the team? What was your reaction when you found out?

I was in the fortunate position of being secure in my position for the last year or two. It was still a battle in practice to maintain that spot, but I think I was pretty sure that once we qualified, I would be the libero if I could stay healthy. Of course, having said that, it was a huge relief and a tremendous honor when things were solidified and the roster was announced officially.

2. Will you have any friends or family traveling to Beijing?

I am lucky to have six family members who have sacrificed time and money to travel to Beijing to support me and the team. My mother, grandfather, sister and her husband, and my brother and his wife will all be in Beijing in support of team USA.

3. While competition will obviously be your priority, is there anything you really want to see or do while you are in Beijing.

I think seeing the Great Wall is a must. Any time you have a chance to see the wonders of the world, it is good to take advantage of that opportunity; also maybe Tiananmen Square, just for the political significance. Other than that, my main focus is the tournament itself.

4. What is your prediction for the competition in Beijing?

I think the field is extremely strong so I think we will have a difficult road if we are to medal. That said, I think we are playing well as a team leading into the Games and I think we have a very good shot at medaling if we can play like we are capable. Also, playing every other day will be a good thing for our relatively old roster.

Riley Salmon (League City, Texas; Pierce College)

1. Will you have any friends or family traveling to Beijing? If so, who? If not, how do you plan to keep in touch with the folks at home?

My parents will be there, Mike and Jenna Clepper. I will keep in touch with my wife, Millie, and daughter, Isabel, via cell phone.

2. While competition will obviously be your first priority, is there anything you really want to see or do while you are in Beijing?

Maybe the Great Wall But as you said, I will be focusing on getting a medal.

3. The team came so close to a medal in 2004. How will that experience affect the team in Beijing?

I think we have all learned from that match (the bronze-medal match against Russia) and we have built on it for the last four years. We have been working to be in that, or a better situation in Beijing.

4. What is your prediction/hope for the competition in Beijing?

I think we can reach the medal podium. Personally, I really like GOLD!!!

Clay Stanley (Honolulu; Hawai’i)

1. Will you have any friends or family traveling to Beijing?

Everybody. Mom, dad, half-brothers, brothers, sisters, step-dad, step-mom, my mom’s friends and my girlfriend.

2. The team came so close to a medal in 2004. How will that experience affect the team in Beijing?

Getting that Olympics out of the way and then going to another one, you don’t have that feeling of “first time.” That kind of nervous stuff. We had a good group (in 2004) and we have the same group of guys with just a few changes. So we should be all right. I don’t see any problems. Making it to the finals (at World League) is good preparation for the big event.

3. Is there concern about fatigue with the Olympic starting so soon after World League?

I’m tired of traveling every week then having two days home and trying to get stuff done at home; worrying about playing and practicing. But what are you going to do? It’s our job. And there are a lot of teams that would be happy to have those problems, but they didn’t qualify.

4.  How often to you get home to Hawai’i?

Not very often. The last time I was back was a year and a half ago for two days for my brother’s graduation – two years before that and four years before that. It’s the only place I call home. Everything else is just a blur. It’s temporary. Hawai’i is where I’m from, where I will always be from and where I will return.

Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.; Long Beach State)

1. When did you know for sure that you had made the team? What was your reaction when you found out?

I knew the day before our first match in Green Bay and it was one of the happiest days of my life because it’s been a lifelong dream to make the Olympic team. When we found out, we all got up and started hugging and congratulating each other. It was an unbelievable moment sharing that news with my teammates and coaching staff.

2. Will you have any friends or family traveling to Beijing? If so, who? If not, how do you plan to keep in touch with the folks at home?

My wife, Angelique, my mother Anne and my father Charles will all be coming to cheer us on.

3. While competition will obviously be your first priority, is there anything you really want to see or do while you are in Beijing.

The competition is the number one thing. There is nothing else I would like to do more than win a medal at the Olympics. I can always go back and see everything else after the Olympics are over with. This is a once in a lifetime chance and I want to make the most of it.

4. What is your prediction/hope for the competition in Beijing?

I don’t like to make predictions, but we have a great team and we are all here to win; a medal is definitely in our sight.

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