By Will Clark
Training for an Olympic sport is a lifelong commitment, and many of the athletes who participate dream of playing internationally for a United States national team.
Val Jeffery, Youngstown State University junior setter, has returned home from China. Jeffery had the opportunity to play on the U.S. volleyball team with some of the most talented players from around the country.
Jeffery started her journey with the U.S. volleyball team back in February. After trying out for the U.S. volleyball team, Jeffery was asked be an alternate on the U.S. Collegiate National Team and played with them in a tournament in China.
“It was awesome. The coaches were great, and my teammates were incredible. I was the youngest girl on the team,” Jeffery said. “Everyone had either graduated or had been playing professional for a couple years.”
Jeffery had the opportunity to play with talented volleyball players, like the five-time Olympian Danielle Scott-Arruda and the former American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma Coble.
“It was just a great roster and my teammates were all super supportive. The whole experience was just so surreal,” Jeffery said.
Jeffery also spoke about some of her experiences while visiting China.
“China itself was very breathtaking. We got to see the Great Wall of China and had the chance to see a lot of sight seeing there. The whole experience was just so surreal,” Jeffery said.
With the start of the season about to begin, Jeffery is excited to get back on the court with a few new editions to the team.
“I am so excited, I can’t believe our first tournament is this weekend. I am excited with how our team is looking in the gym. We have four newcomers and they’ve already made tremendous impact,” Jeffery said. “I think we really stepped it up in the spring with furthering our defense — we’re picking up so much on the court. I think it’s going to be a challenging season, but we’re going to step-up to the plate.”
Jeffery had a number of experiences during her trip and is excited to put her new lessons to good use for this upcoming season.
“[They were] playing super aggressive, these girls were some of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen in my entire life and yet they still had fun on and off the court. Their work ethic is something I really want to bring to this team,” Jeffery said. “I am more of a leader by example — hustling after every ball regardless if the ball is 50 feet away, and there is no chance I’m going to get it. It’s all about how much your teammates are looking at you and how much you are putting in, and does that want them to do better. So I definitely want to set a good example for my teammates and I think that’s one of the biggest things I took from being over there.”