A nerve-racking day for two former Washington athletes
It was 4:30am in Anaheim. Courtney Thompson couldn’t sleep.
“A lot of nerves,” says Thompson. “Anxious and excited. All in one."
|Courtney Thompson (22)|
For most of her career, Thompson has been told that—for all her hard work and talent—she’s simply too short to compete on the same court with the international volleyball elite.
But she persisted. She worked even harder. And during the past three weeks, in Brazil, Thailand and China, she hoped to convince USA head coach Hugh McCutcheon that she belonged.
Today was the day she’d find out.
“Had some really good coffee this morning, and I was okay,” she said. “Called my brothers, and talked with them for a while. And then I was anxious.”
“It was hard. Waiting was hard.”
In the end, seventeen players were competing for 12 Olympic roster spots. Each had scheduled a ten-minute appointment with McCutcheon and the coaching staff. Mid-morning, Thompson walked into the office.
“The first thing he said to me was, that they’ve selected me for the roster,” said Thompson. “And I stared at him blankly for about a minute. Just letting it sink in.”
“It was pretty overwhelming.”
As Thompson left the meeting, she saw Tama Miyashiro, her former University of Washington teammate, waiting to hear whether she, too, had made the cut.
“It was emotional,” Miyashiro says, “because we really didn’t have to say any words to describe how proud of each other we were.”
“We shed a couple tears.”
“It’s Tama, you know,” says Thompson. “She was calm, collected, and I know she was excited. And prepared for whatever.”
Moments later, Miyashiro got the same good news, and had a similar reaction.
“I didn’t really know what to say,” says Miyashiro. “I was literally, like, I had no words. And I was just like—in my head I was, like, damn! Like, it’s for real.”
For the past month, both players have been on the bubble. Thompson had to beat out a much taller player, former Penn State setter Alicia Glass. And Miyashiro had to convince her coaches that the team needs her defensive skills more than it needs an additional hitter.
“Deep down inside,” said Miyashiro, “I know how much work I put in.”
“There’s only so much you can control,” says Thompson. “You do everything you can, and you’re confident in how you’re playing.”
Both players have been travelling across the globe with the National Team. Thompson had climbed into a self-imposed bubble, ignoring all phone messages, text messages and social media. . Miyashiro had not seen family and friends for more than a month.
“I called my dad and called my mom,” said Miyashiro. “And they were really excited. And said how proud they were, and stuff. It was just good to hear everyone’s voice.”
“Lots of tears on the other end of the phone,” says Thompson, whose parents live in the Seattle suburb of Covington.
Neither player has made plans for the Fourth of July. But Miyashiro is sure there will be fireworks at her parents’ Hawaiian home.
“You know how the Hawaiians are, they find any reason to bring people together to eat. So, I’m sure something will happen.”