Danielle Scott-Arruda: My Road to Beijing...and a Silver Medal!
Hello, My name is Danielle Scott-Arruda. I am a four-time Olympian and Beijing Silver Medalist Woohoo! I am so excited about the blog entries I will share with you all over the next several months.
It has been a long journey to winning the Silver medal in Beijing Olympic Games 2008. It started for me in 1988 watching the Olympic Games with my family. Then meeting Olympian Rose Magers-Powell and National Team player Penny Lucas in 1989 really sparked my inspiration. I had only been introduced to club volleyball two years, which had proved to be very helpful in my development.
College Years...At the end of my senior year of high school I accepted a scholarship to play at Long Beach State University, a University with a big volleyball history. I had my first tryout for a USA B team event in 1991 for the World University Games and Pan Am Games. I made the squad! I was so excited. I hoped that with my participation in those games and another season playing collegiately I could make the 1992 Olympic team in Barcelona. It turned out that the 1992 Team was a long shot but the dream had been ignited.
National Team...I finished my last season of eligibility at The Beach in 1993. That year we won the NCAA championship, I was named Player of the Year and subsequently was invited to a tryout with the USA National Team! I joined the team in June of 1994 and was given number 19 as my practice jersey number. Three weeks later I was given jersey number 10 and officially welcomed as part of the squad. Although I hoped for number 2 (the number I used during my collegiate years, but it was then worn by Yoko Zetherland-Bush), number 10 was a special number because Debbie Green, the assistant coach while I was at Long Beach State, had great success while playing with that number and won an Olympic Silver Medal. I was so elated! Of course I called home and told all my family and friends.
Atlanta 1996...We had a very strong team. With veterans Tara Cross-Battle, Teee Williams, Paula Weishoff, Caren Kemner, Elaina Oden, we were among the contenders for the Gold medal. I really loved this team's tenacity, intensity and how we pushed each other everyday in the gym with the common goal of becoming medalists. We played well during pool play, finishing second. However we crossed with Cuba in the quarter and lost, losing our chance to medal.
Sydney 2000...We had a young team, rather inexperienced in terms of international competition, but so much spirit. I have fond memories of that team. No one really expected that we would compete for a medal. No one except those in our inner circle. We qualified in the NORCECA championships, Tara Cross-Battle and myself were the lone veterans, with very talented Tom, Bown, Sance, Stacy Sykora. We competed for the bronze but lost to Brazil.
Athens 2004...Again we had a very experienced team, Keba Phipps, Cross-Battle, Tom, myself. And boy were we eager to win a medal. After finishing top three in most of the tournaments throughout the quad, we felt well prepared, had the experience, and the desire but unfortunately came up short.
Which finally brings us to...
BEIJING 2008...woohoo! I told you it was a long journey. I am so extremely proud of the team. It was a team of eight veterans, and four talented new comers, The "Iron Hammer" Jenny Lang Ping, Sue Woodstra (who wore jersey number 2 when she won her Silver Medal (by the way, after 1996 I changed my jersey number to 2)), Tom Hogan, Coach Li, Coach James, Gen-san, Emery and of course all the players who trained until the final cut. Throughout the Games we were able to focus just on one play, one point, one set, one match at a time. We had the expectation from others and from ourselves to be Gold Medal contenders. We were able to win the Silver Medal by enjoying the process, loving the game, and playing for each other. Although it was my fourth Olympics, it was several players' third Olympic Games. Our shared journey made us selfless enough to want it for each other, and what a TEAM that made us.