May 25, 2005
This summer, follow South Carolina Volleyball’s Shonda Cole as she shares her experiences of training and participating with the USA Volleyball National Team. Each week, uscsports.com will post a diary entry from Cole as she gives an inside look at what it is like to train at the international level.
The Kings Mountain, N.C. native is training at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs under the guidance of “Jenny” Lang Ping. Team USA will enter teams in tournaments throughout the summer, including the women’s open division of the USA Open Volleyball Championships in Denver from May 28-June 4., the Montreux Volley Masters in Switzerland, the Pan American Cup in the Dominican Republic and the month-long World Grand Prix in Asia.
Week of May 23, 2005
Well, I’ve been in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center for about three weeks now and I love every minute of it. I am able to be among the best volleyball players in the USA. It’s really amazing to actually know that I am here among some of the best. I never thought in a million years that I would be doing something like this. This is so exciting and it is hard to believe that I’m on the court with some of the 2004 Olympians.
When I first arrived on May 8th, there were only four girls checked in at the time, so I took my bags to my room, and I look across the hallway and learn that my neighbors are Marcie Hampton and Jane Collymore, both from the University of Florida. It was kind of awkward at first, but once we got acquainted it was like we had known each other for a long time.
Everyone is really cool and laid back. It is sort of like college up here (just minus the school work) and the actual training center is like a campus. The food is amazing, and I look forward to eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner just because I love to eat.
The coach is “Jenny” Lang Ping. She is absolutely amazing! She was the best female player in China when she played. She is such a smart player, and she has taught me a lot already. She is intense, but laid back at the same time. I love her already, and she is quite the comedian too. She cares so much about each player’s weaknesses, and she works hard to make sure that we improve on those. She used to coach the women’s Chinese national team with Jason Hou, who is one of my coaches now at South Carolina. I think that’s pretty awesome too!
Practices were pretty intense when I first got started but it was like that for everyone. It is hard to breathe up here with the altitude. I was so sore the first week I found myself, along with others, in the training room, every chance I got. When I wasn’t in the training room, I was practicing, eating, sleeping, or just relaxing back at the dorms with everyone else. I’m getting used to the thin air now, so it doesn’t bother me as much. We usually practice six days a week, twice a day, for three hours. We get Sundays off, which is great! On Saturday nights, we usually go out together as a group on Tejon St. which is like the Five Points area of Columbia. I didn’t think there was much to do in Colorado (and there’s really not when you don’t have a car here), but we find ways to get to places such as the mall, movies, restaraunts, etc.
We have been training hard for about three weeks now, and we finally get to show what we can do at our tournament this weekend in Denver. It’s the national open tournament, so there will be a lot of teams there. I’m looking foward to seeing all the teams (especially Bameseo), which is a team that two of my teammates, Lauren Ford and Iris Santos, will be playing for. It will be good to see them.
That’s all for now, but I will keep you posted on everything else that will happen.