My name is Ebony Nwanebu. I’m a volleyball player at the University of Southern California. I’ve had so many opportunities and I’ve got to go to a ton of cool places because of volleyball and I’ve decided to create a blog to share these experiences with all of you! I am also a writing major at USC (I know, what was I thinking?) so I plan on also sharing some of my poems and stories, just because it’s hard as a writer to share work with others, let alone the world, and I’m trying to break free of this barrier. But for now I’ll just tell you of my national team adventure I got to experience last summer.
Over the summer I got to do something beyond believable and had the chance to play with some of my biggest idols on the U.S National team. From the moment I stepped into the gym, I was hit with so much nervousness. All around me were olympic athletes all at least five years or older than myself, who was the youngest in the gym. I grew up watching the majority of these girls play and in their presence I was completely starstruck. They probably thought I was complete freak. The nerves didn’t quite settle until 2 weeks later. Which were probably the worst two weeks of volleyball I’ve ever played in my lifetime, due to the fact I still couldn’t believe I was even there. Luckily I wasn’t alone. My former USC teammate, and 3 time All-American, Natalie Hagglund, was there every step of the way, to make sure that I was as comfortable as possible. I’m thankful that my favorite libero was there to guide me, because without her, I would have been completely lost.
As time went on, I started to open up a little more, and my idols started to become my friends. They took me under their wing, and taught me so much. It was such a privilege to learn from them and Karch Kiraly and I was so surprised over how much kindness and acceptance they showed to me while I was in the gym, even though I had no clue what I was doing for the longest time.
To my surprise I made a roster. I had the opportunity to go to Switzerland and represent our great country. It was also the first time for me to fly out of the country, and I’m not a huge fan of planes, so sitting in a giant metal bird for 12 hours, was not my cup of tea. Luckily Karch was sitting in my row, so when we hit turbulence he assured me that the plane wasn’t going to crash and I took a few deep breaths and calmed down.. A little.
Switzerland was beyond beautiful. We stayed right on Lake Geneva and even jumped in for an ice bath after practice. We did yoga in a random park and we explored the city whenever we were allowed to and saw so many great things, and ate so much delicious swiss chocolate. My roommate was Christa Harmotto. I have to admit, I was a little nervous to be roommates with a stud Olympic middle but soon the nerves calmed, and I got to know a super cool person.
My very first international game was against Germany, and despite my nerves I was beyond excited to represent our country. Team USA won, and it was one of the best feelings of my life to be apart of something so big at that moment. I enjoyed getting to see everyone in such a competitive atmosphere while still being incredibly supportive of one another. The team went on to the finals after we defeated Japan where we would end up playing Germany again to see who would take home the trophy.
Although we didn’t win a gold medal, and although I came home with an L5 Lumbar Spine back fracture. that would plague me for half a year, I wouldn’t have changed this experience for the world. It was an honor to have represented our country and to get to know so many unbelievably great athletes. My back is now healed, and I am finally gaining back my strength, and I hope one day I will get to make more memories like this one.