Story courtesy of Christy Naughton
Two Olympic athletes are back to work only months after winning a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
For U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball teammates Nicole Davis and Stacy Sykora, getting back to normal meant getting back in the gym.
With the 2012 Olympics in the distance, the duo is spending less time training and more time coaching.
Davis and Sykora began conducting their Ball Control Camps around the country in December. The camps focus on specific defensive skills and techniques that each of the liberos have learned in their Olympic training.
On March 8, Davis and Sykora conducted a clinic in the Arizona Region. Sixty juniors joined the Olympians at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix for the 8-hour clinic.
The Olympians warmed up the group with a version of the warm up they do before practices. Then, they began with the basics, focusing on form and technique. Soon enough, the athletes were then split into age groups for more individualized attention.
“Nicole and Stacy gave me my dream back to make it as an Olympic volleyball player. You two really do change lives,” said one athlete participant.
And that is their goal.
“Our coaches didn’t know they were coaching an Olympian at the time,” said Sykora. “So it’s our job as coaches to inspire, to coach, to encourage these young girls to really think they can.”
“The next Olympian could be in the gym today. We just don’t know but we could be a part of that as coaches,” said Sykora.
Davis and Sykora hope that their Ball Control Camps can instill more than just elite skills in its participants.
“There’s a need for us to give back. There’s also a need to promote the sport,” said Davis. “In the US we have millions of kids playing volleyball and millions of ways to play volleyball and we want to expose kids to what we’re doing so that we all get on the same page at some point.”
As athletes, Davis and Sykora said they always dreamed of being Olympians, but they never knew that it would happen to them. They hope to pass on those experiences to their campers just as they pass down their knowledge of the sport.
“I always say ‘keep dreaming’ and ‘why not you?’” said Sykora. “Who’s to say who can make a national team or an Olympic team? No one really can say it just happens.”
The coaching is top of the line, the material is top-notch, and the inspiration seems to flood the gym at these Ball Control Camps.
“You never know what lives you can change with a simple word or a simple pat on the back,” said Sykora. “That’s what this is all about, to inspire these kids to think they can be something great.”