Brian Thornton Blog: NORCECA Olympic Qualifier

By Brian Thornton | May 29, 2012, 1:39 p.m. (ET)

NOTE: Brian Thornton is writing a blog for Mizuno, a key USA Volleyball sponsor and partner. Thornton is a Mizuno-sponsored athlete and will periodically provide insights into being a U.S. Men's National Team athlete while representing Mizuno. For more information Mizuno, visit mizunousa.com.

May 29, 2012

The NORCECA Olympic Qualifier at the Pyramid in Long Beach was the best thing to happen to USA Volleyball in awhile.

Mind you, I have not been around that long, but I have never seen or heard of anything like the environment I had the privilege of experiencing last weekend. Particularly Saturday night against Canada. The day before the match I had told one of my friends that I thought it was going to be electric in there for the finals. I was wrong. It was far better than that.

It is not often past college that you get to have the pleasure of playing at home. It's an entirely different thing when you are playing in front of a sold out, rowdy, American crowd at home with an Olympic berth on the line. Honestly, It was magical. And I rarely use that word. Partly because it's a bit cliche and emasculating…..only to be used in such desperate times as a proposal beneath the Eiffel Tower or when Criss Angel decides to levitate across the sky. The latter of those instances, however, a clear and severe misuse of the word. That's just miraculously genuine.

We arrived on the bus to around 200-300 fans waiting for us. They were decked out in red, white and blue and carrying various signs. It looked like Monday Night Raw had fallen on the fourth of July. Somebody was carrying a huge cut-out of Reid Priddy's head around solidifying his lifelong dream of becoming a life-size character in the video game NBA Jam. It was just truly a scene you don't see with volleyball in the United States often and it was "magical" to be a part of. The welcoming got everybody fired up for the match. It was impossible not to.

The energy carried on throughout the warm up, gave me goosebumps during the National Anthem and stayed with me far past the 3-0 victory against Canada qualifying us for the 2012 Olympics.

One of the most cliche and overused statements by athletes is "we couldn't have done it without our fans" but we really couldn't have done it without the fans and the energy that was created in the Pyramid that night. Thanks to everybody that made that happen….because everyone present that night had a piece in the qualification. Hopefully we can carry it to London.

Until Next Time,

Brian Thornton

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