BATON ROUGE -- This past weekend, USA Volleyball had its open tryouts for the United States Women’s National Team and U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Teams at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
LSU had four representatives at the tryouts in Helen Boyle, Briana Holman, Cati Leak and Madi Mahaffey, taking part in the three-day event as four of over 240 athletes that were in attendance in the hopes of making one of the teams that will compete internationally.
Below, Boyle and Mahaffey recap their experiences with their teammates and the event as a whole.
“We started off at 3:30 in the morning leaving Baton Rouge. We may have run a bunny over on the way, but that did not crush our spirits, we were ready to show our stuff off. We arrived at the training center later that day, signed in and went to get lunch. By surprise Michael Phelps was sitting just a few tables over. He was not in the mood for autographs and pictures, though.
"We went and toured around a little, and then got ready to play in our first session. When the session started we were immediately thrown into the rigorous warm up the U.S. National Team does. After getting acclimated to the altitude we were immediately thrown into team play. I was on a court with Bri the whole day, and we were having fun while working hard. We were competing and playing with the top players in the country.
"After we played, we went to dinner in the amazing dining hall, and then went back to the room so we could catch up on some sleep. The next morning we woke up pretty tired, but excited for another opportunity to play with the best of the best. Before this session, someone came up to me with a small camera and asked random questions, and naturally, I made a fool of myself.
"The next session was mostly serve and serve receive, which was a lot harder to do in the altitude. The next two sessions after that were all competition-style drills. We had a great experience, and I cannot thank LSU enough for giving me the opportunity to travel and play with the best people in the country.”
“Our trip to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., was one to remember. I have dreamed of playing for The U.S. Olympic team, and knowing that the tryout for the USA Collegiate National Team was one step closer to achieving my dream of playing in the Olympics was unreal.
"Cati, Helen, Bri, and I really enjoyed playing with some of the best players in college volleyball. There were players from all over the country representing their schools, and showing USA Volleyball what they had to offer. This allowed us to play some great high-level volleyball and that always is a great feeling.
"Everyone was there for the same goal: Making the final cut to go to China with Karch Kiraly. Although you would think that this tryout would be cutthroat with 200-plus players all going for the same goal, but everyone was so supportive of each other and always cheered others on when they got a great block or dig.
"We ran into a few of our SEC rivals who quickly became our friends. We found ourselves all piled up together at the dinner table sharing laughs and stories about past games when we would play each other. It was like a small family; which is what the SEC is all about! I cannot thank LSU enough for sending us to Colorado Springs. It will be a memory that stays with me forever.”