The following are thoughts from BYU women's volleyball junior outside hitter Veronica Jones-Perry
regarding her time representing Team USA with the U.S. Collegiate Women's National Team in Minneapolis from June 22-30.
Having the opportunity to wear and represent USA over the past week and a half was incredible. The whole thing seemed a little surreal to me until I got there and saw my name on the back of a jersey - and that's when I realized that I was actually going to be a part of the U.S. Collegiate National Team for part of my summer. Nicki Holmes helped that to really set in when he explained to the group that there were less than 100 active members of the U.S. National Team at that time, and we were each one of them. That was really cool to think about.
The week was one full of really good volleyball against some tough competition. The coaches there were super helpful and all really excited to be there. In a meeting with the whole group of us, more than half of the coaches said that the CNT program is their absolute favorite program to coach and this was made very obvious by the way that they were coaching and by how engaged they were throughout the week. The first few days of the week we had two practices a day in a big group format. The practices were really fast paced and I got a ton of touches. It was pretty exhausting honestly, but I learned SO MUCH. For the last half of the week, we were split into three teams and our practices were just with our own teams. This part was really cool because I got to know each of my teammates a lot better and we all got pretty close in just four days.
During the competition, my team didn't play well at all during pool play. After pool play was over, a group of us chatted at dinner about what we needed to do in order to compete the way that we knew we could. The coaches also sat down and tried to come up with a better game plan that would really utilize each of our strengths. It was amazing to me just how much better my team played and how much control we had over that. On the last day of competition, we ended up winning both matches in five sets and winning the mini-tournament.
Throughout the week, I was constantly being asked by the other girls about BYU. This was really fun for me because it gave me a real chance to explain what I value and why BYU is the perfect fit for me. It also allowed me to help them to understand the values at BYU and the reasons that we do things the way that we do.
Overall, this experience was one that taught me not only a lot about volleyball, but also a lot about who I am as an athlete and a person. It pushed my mind and body a lot harder than I expected it to and I'm grateful for that. I also made some friendships that I think will last a long time and I'm really excited to see how all of my teammates do during their own seasons. I'm grateful to have had this opportunity and I hope to have similar ones in the future.