Thursday, March 27, 2014

Life after college volleyball: some make millions

Playing overseas, elite American volleyball players can earn like a pro

Elite American volleyball players--especially Olympians--
can make substantial salaries playing overseas
A report this week by AP sportswriter Anne M. Peterson is making the rounds, alerting Americans that as many as three dozen US volleyball players earn a million dollars or more each season playing overseas.

The report—which has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, San Antonio Express-News and Charlotte Observer, among others—points out that “about 25 American women and 10 men (are) making more than six figures.”

“The average sports fan would be blown away if they found out that anyone was making a million dollars playing volleyball,” said sports agent Tim Kelly.

While not assigning specific dollar figures by name, the biggest salaries are known to go to the world's elite outside hitters. The article quotes three athletes (none of them necessarily in the million-dollar range), former Texas All-American Rachael Adams, former USC star Geena Urango and former Washington All-American Courtney Thompson. An excerpt:

“I always tell people you have to be ready for an adventure and not to have too many expectations,” said Courtney Thompson, a setter who played on the United States women’s team that won the silver medal at the 2012 London Games. “It’s a lot different than a lot of people think because we have nothing like it in the United States. They train differently, they play differently, the lifestyle is obviously different — which can be really cool, but it can also make it difficult.”
 Thompson, who was a standout for the University of Washington, made the 2012 Olympic team and played a key role when the veteran setter Lindsey Berg went down with an Achilles’ tendon injury. The United States women lost in the gold medal match to Brazil.
 Thompson plays in Switzerland for Volero Zurich. Last season while playing in Poland, she was the subject of a documentary, “Court and Spark,” about her odyssey abroad as a pro athlete.
 She said: “The first year, I remember that every time they would give me a check — which wasn’t much every month — I would say, ‘Thank you, thank you so much, thank you.’ And finally, my boss was like: ‘Courtney, you can stop thanking me. This is your job.’ It’s something you’ve done for free for so long.” [read more]

The “Court & Spark” documentary was produced for Puget Sound Region of USA Volleyball by no little things Productions. Jack & Leslie Hamann of no little things Productions also bring you Volleyblog Seattle.

[Note: Starting this week, Court & Spark is now available for online streaming rental and purchase; it had previously been available on DVD only. All proceeds go to Puget Sound Region of USA Volleyball. More information here.]


  1. I do not understand why volleyball is not one of the U.S.A.'s top sports for fans. Volleyball is an exciting team sport but with new sports channels showing up, they avoid volleyball. Beach Volleyball attracts some attention due to the lack of material used in the uniforms but when you get past the visual part, the game is very exciting. I am sure that a pro women's league with proper leadership, could prosper as well here as it does overseas.
    One of the biggest problems for USA volleyball is the lack of boys high school leagues(at least in Washington state anyways). This needs to be changed but with emphasis on basketball and the length of the season taking away athletes to making it a recruiting issue competing with basketball and football in the fall and basketball, track and baseball in spring. This leaves little room for male athletes and volleyball to compete with the established 4 sports.

    1. I agree. For me to see all these guys making millions playing a dreadfully boring spectator sport such as baseball is amazing. Not to mention the season lasts from April through October.. stick hot pokers in my eyes... but I digress.


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