COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 31, 2013) – Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas), a three-time U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball player and 2008 Olympic Games silver medalist, has come to peace in making one of her toughest decisions, that of officially announcing today her retirement from the game of volleyball that she loves so much.
Just over two years ago, Sykora was on the top of the volleyball world. In a split second on a rainy April 2011 night in Brazil, that scenario changed with her being hospitalized with serious head injuries that she still has no memory of. It has taken 27 months to come to peace with her decision to retire.
“My career has been an amazing journey,” Sykora said. “I do not have one regret. I got to see the world; experience the world. My teammates are my sisters, my family. USA Volleyball allowed me to live out my childhood dream. They were there for me when I needed them. They always supported me and allowed me to be Stacy.”
Sykora missed the entire 2011 international tournament season after being hospitalized for 36 days with head injuries suffered in a bus accident as her Brazil professional club team, Volei Futuro, was en route to a playoff match. Although she attempted to comeback from her injuries in 2012, Sykora never made it back to the level her fans were accustomed to seeing, partly because lingering vision issues affected her tracking the ball.
What fans remember are her energetic and charismatic style of play that led her to be an iconic symbol of USA Volleyball and the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team. Months before the accident, Sykora was selected as the 2010 USA Volleyball Indoor Female Athlete of the Year after being named the Best Libero at the 2010 FIVB World Championship. During that same event, she had a tournament-best dig average.
After a lengthy rehab, Sykora returned to the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team to train for the 2012 Olympic Games but continued to suffer from complications from the injuries. After not making the Olympic Team last summer, she was selected for the U.S. Pan American Cup roster and helped the squad win the gold medal. Afterwards, she signed to play with Italian Serie A1 Urbino Volley before parting ways in December 2012.
While Sykora struggled to decide whether to make a continued comeback, the passion for volleyball never left. And really, it was volleyball and her participation as a coach that helped guide her in making the ultimate decision to retirement.
At the recently completed USA Volleyball High Performance Championships, Sykora served as an assistant coach for the USA Select A1 Red Team and felt at ease in the new position. With her on the sideline coaching, USA Select A1 Red finished with the silver playing up in the Women’s International Junior Division.
“This last 10 days with the HP program opened my heart back up to volleyball and make me content on retiring,” Sykora said. “I finally can hang up the good ole shoes in peace. I am sad, but at peace knowing that I can give back to USA Volleyball. I can help future Olympians just by sharing the knowledge that I have of the game. I will always help USA Volleyball, always. I wish all the luck to our future Olympians. Keep Dreaming. No excuses. No regrets.”
In addition to the 2010 FIVB World Championship, Sykora played a key role in leading the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix, the premier annual women’s international volleyball tournament. She totaled 4.13 digs per set with 10 match starts and was the Best Defender. For the tournament, Sykora aided the U.S. to an overall .300 hitting efficiency in 14 matches.
Sykora, who made the transition to being one of the best-ever international liberos after playing outside hitter at Texas A&M, has competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. During the 2004 Olympic Games, Sykora was honored as the Best Digger.