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June 1, 2005

Colorado Springs, Colo. – 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, will post a diary entry from Cole as she gives an inside look at what it is like to train at the international level.

Week of May 30, 2005

We left for nationals in Denver last Thursday after practice. I really didn’t know what to expect with this tournament. What I was expecting and what really occurred turned out to be two different things. We arrived in Denver at the Adam’s Mark, where most of the teams were staying, and we were able to see some of Denver. It’s a pretty busy city, and very diverse. There is more to do within walking distance of our hotel in Denver than there is to do in the whole city of Colorado Springs.

USA had two teams that attended the national tournament, USA Red, which I was a part of, and USA Blue. There were a lot of familiar faces at this tournament, and a lot of really good and experienced teams.

There were so many divisions and teams at this tournament. To give you and idea there were a total of 37 courts and the divisions went up to 75 years old. There were senior women and men playing. It was really fun to watch them play. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen in my life. I was so glad that I got to experience something like this. I can’t wait until next year.

We ended up claiming the top seed in our bracket because we went undefeated the first day. USA Blue was in a different bracket and they were undefeated as well, so the next day we had to play them. Our team was really excited because we wanted to see which USA team was the best. When it came time for that game, it seemed like everyone in the Colorado Convention Center was watching our match. USA Blue ended up winning the first game, but Red won the next three. We played four games and my team, USA Red ended up winning the entire match. We were really happy.

The next day we had to play Bameso, which is the team that my teammate Iris Santos, played for. We won the first two games pretty easily, but they ended up winning the next three and won the match. It was a really good match. I was able to catch up with Iris on what has been going on in Columbia. I was really excited to see her and some of the other girls that played on the same team. We had won all of our matches but that one and we ended up playing Team Volleyhut, an older, more experienced team. Unfortunately, we lost to them in four. We were sad because we should have beaten them. We were a lot better than them, but we played really bad. However, we learn from losses just as we do from wins! Team Blue played the next day and ended up losing to Volleyhut as well. Both USA teams were then eliminated from the tournament. We ended up finishing fifth and the Blue team finished fourth.

I was excited that at least Iris and her team, Bameso, got a chance to play for the gold in the championship match.

After we finished playing I went shopping with some of my USA teammates to relieve the stress of losing. It’s back to Colorado Springs for now then off to Dominican Republic!

Until then … Go Cocks!