Destinee's Child Motivates Her Court Comeback

By Bill Kauffman | Jan. 07, 2014, 5:21 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 7, 2014) – Destinee Hooker-Coulter, a silver medalist with the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, added yet another fan to her thousands of followers in December 2013. And this fan is the most special to her and her husband, Steven Coulter Jr.

Hooker-Coulter, 26, and her husband welcomed the birth of their first child, daughter Keitany Coulter, in the early morning hours on Dec. 12. Hooker-Coulter announced the birth on her Twitter feed - @destineehooker – with a seven word message: “She’s here!!!! My baby girl is here!!!!”

Since her birth, Keitany has provided inspiration and motivation to her mother to come back to volleyball even stronger than before.

“My daughter has brought so much joy to my life,” said Hooker-Coulter, who hails from San Antonio. “It only motivates me to get back on the court and play not only for me, but more for her. I love her so much. She's my heartbeat. I'm motivated more than ever and nothing is going to stand in my way.”

Hooker-Coulter, who was the 2012 USA Volleyball Indoor Female Athlete of the Year, took the 2013 season off following completion of her professional season with Dinamo Krasnodar in Russia. Just a few months earlier she capped her first Olympic Games by earning the tournament’s Best Spiker award with a .379 hitting efficiency. Hooker-Coulter also ranked second in Best Scorer at the Olympics with 161 points and finished fourth in Best Blocker.

According to Hooker-Coulter, the time away from the court has been a blessing, not only for giving birth to her little angel Keitany, but for renewing her love for the game.

“I enjoyed my time away from the court,” Hooker-Coulter said. “Being pregnant made it easier knowing that my love for the game will come back 10 times stronger. I missed playing volleyball, but I was able to watch so that helped.”

Although she was away from the team, Hooker-Coulter really was not absent from the team in spirit.

“I would stay up sometimes to watch games or I would follow teammates’ tweets,” she said. “I had to be careful not to stay up too late when I was pregnant – I needed all the rest I could get.”

As for the 2014 season, Hooker-Coulter has her sights set on contributing to the team. For that to happen, she realizes she must get back into playing shape and shake off the rust from being away from the game for nearly a year.

“I plan on getting back into shape gradually,” Hooker-Coulter said. “I will train on my own until the team returns back to the ASC (American Sports Centers in Anaheim, Calif.). I may play a shortened season somewhere, but right now I'm focused on getting back in shape.”

Hooker-Coulter did not commit to a timeframe on when she will be back into peak condition, but she has the ultimate goal of returning to the Olympic Games and helping Team USA win its first gold medal in the event.

“I am not sure how long it will take,” said Hooker-Coulter, adding, “As long as I'm ready by Rio 2016.”

Hooker-Coulter emerged as an international star shortly after finishing a stellar career at the University of Texas in 2009 where she was selected American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America First-Team her final two seasons. She quickly made the adjustment from being an outside hitter in college to an opposite hitter on the international stage with just three weeks in the USA gym. In her first international tournament, Hooker-Coulter helped Team USA claim the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix gold medal where she was the fourth-best scorer in the Final Round. Later in 2010, she aided the U.S. to a fourth-place finish at the FIVB World Championship and finished fifth in scoring and 16th in Best Blocker.

Hooker-Coulter continued to dominate the world stage in 2011 as she was named the most valuable player of the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix as the Americans won the event for a second consecutive year. She ranked second in scoring in the World Grand Prix Final Round and was fourth in Best Spiker. Hooker-Coulter led Team USA to the 2011 NORCECA Continental Championship gold medal, followed by the silver medal in the 2011 FIVB World Cup that qualified Team USA for the 2012 Olympic Games. She was named Best Spiker of the World Cup.

Follow Destinee Hooker-Coulter on Social Media:
Twitter (@destineehooker)