On a cold European afternoon not long ago, Courtney Thompson (in Zurich) and Tamari Miyashiro (in Stuttgart) met up via Skype. The two Olympic teammates were discussing a topic they had often mulled over: How can professional volleyball players give back to their communities?
This August, Thompson, Miyashiro, and at least six of their U.S. women’s national team teammates will conduct a groundbreaking two-day clinic in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Thompson’s home town. All proceeds will benefit the Children’s Therapy Center, Thompson’s favorite charity.
I am so pumped about this, said Thompson, by telephone from Switzerland.
What’s so groundbreaking about a clinic? While the event has USA Volleyball’s blessing, the entire program is conceived, organized, and run by Thompson, Miyashiro, and their USA teammates, under their newly-formed foundation, Give it Back. While skills training will certainly be a feature of the clinic, USA players will also share personal and professional wisdom about setting goals, overcoming adversity, dealing with coaches and parents and teammates, and other often-overlooked athletes tools and issues.
The athletes conducting the clinic include Thompson, Miyashiro, Christa Harmotto Dietzen, Jordan Larson-Burbach, Foluke Akinradewo, Kristin Hildebrand, Nicole Fawcett, and Nicole Davis. All are Olympians, world champions, or both. Most were featured in Court & Spark, the recent volleyball documentary starring Thompson. Weve been through the fire together, Thompson says. Now we want to share.
In seasons to come, Give it Back plans to offer similar clinics in the home states of other USA National Team players, including Hawaii (Miyashiro), Utah (Hildebrand), and Florida (Akinradewo). In each venue, proceeds will go to a local charity.
Were all humbled and thankful to be in the position were in, says Thompson. Weve learned from great teachers throughout our careers. We now want to pass on what weve learned, and are still learning.
The Seattle clinic is scheduled almost one year from the start of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, where Brazil and the USA will again be favored to battle for the gold medal. Although the athletes will be in the middle of national team competitions this summer, they will give up one of their few free weekends to teach kids in Kent.
The August 1-2, 2015, Give it Back Foundation clinic is open to students entering grades 8-12. The cost is $289 per participant. Registration begins April 15, on the website of Puget Sound Region Volleyball, psrvb.org.