Tuesday, 23 Jul 2024

From the Olympics to HPCs

Can you recall the moment you fell in love with volleyball? Maybe it was the first time you dreamed of playing in the Olympics and hearing the National Anthem after winning a gold medal. For a select few, this dream becomes a reality every four years as members of the U.S. Olympic Volleyball Teams.

But for thousands of other young volleyball players across the United States, the Olympics serve as the ultimate goal, fueling their dedication and inspiring them to train harder, jump higher, and play smarter in the hopes of one day reaching the pinnacle of the sport.

At the 2016 High Performance Championships, four U.S. Olympians are coaching High Performance teams, playing a vital role in teaching and inspiring the next generation of college and professional volleyball players.

“This is the highlight of my summer. I love coming back and working with the younger kids to see where they’re at and to see how much they improve in such a short amount of time,” says five-time Olympian and two-time silver medalist Danielle Scott-Arruda. “We teach them the USA style of volleyball, the culture, the terminology, and it’s incredibly rewarding to witness their growth in such a short time.”

Joining Scott-Arruda at HPCs are Stacy Sykora, assistant coach for the Youth National Team and three-time Olympian and silver medalist (2000, 2004, 2008); Jeff Nygaard, also a three-time Olympian (1996 and 2000 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team, 2004 U.S. Beach Team with Dain Blanton) and head coach for the USA Youth Continental Red team; and Tom Sorensen (1996 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team), who is assisting Nygaard.

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Nygaard and Scott-Arruda took some time out of their schedules to share their thoughts on coaching in the USA High Performance pipeline, as well as what it takes to make it to the Olympic level.

Danielle Scott-Arruda:

  • Number of years coaching HP: Three years; previously worked with Youth Select teams

“What do you enjoy about coaching at HPCs?”
“I think for these girls, many of whom have gone through numerous coaches, participating in a national team event like this is a valuable experience. It gives them a taste of what it’s like to be in the USA gym and play at such a high level. We’re here to provide that exposure and help them understand what it takes to reach the Olympics.”

“Hard work is essential, but what else does it take to make it to the Olympics?”
“It starts with having a dream and then putting a plan in place to achieve it. Focus on not just physical growth, but also mental strength and teamwork. Being a good teammate, paying attention to detail, and going above and beyond are all critical factors. And of course, working hard and believing that you can achieve your goals. Why not you?”

“Do you have a particular Olympic memory or moment that stands out?”
“Every Olympics is special and unique to me. Each journey toward the Olympics is memorable. But one standout moment for me is when I received my jersey for the first time. Every time after that was a special moment too. Representing the USA is an incredible honor, and every opportunity to do so is meaningful.”

Jeff Nygaard:

  • Number of years coaching HP: First year; with previous experience working with the Iowa Region Women’s HP program
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“What are you enjoying about coaching at HPCs?”
“The development and talent pipeline in USA Volleyball have grown significantly since my playing days. The physicality, talent, height, and athleticism we see now is remarkable. It’s encouraging to witness the progress and success that our national teams have achieved. The future of USA Volleyball looks bright.”

“Hard work is essential, but what else does it take to make it to the Olympics?”
“Tom Sorensen, my assistant, and I were discussing our experiences as Olympians, and something he said really stuck with me. When he was 14, someone asked him what he wanted to do, and he confidently replied, ‘I want to be an Olympic volleyball player.’ I had a similar moment at the age of 13 when I wrote down on a player profile that I wanted to be on the U.S. National Team. Making a promise to yourself and aligning your energy towards that goal is powerful. If you want to reach the next level, be the person who fulfills their potential, whether it’s at this level, the next, or even the Olympics.”

“Do you have a particular Olympic memory or moment that stands out?”
“In 1996, we were losing 14-12 against Cuba in Game 4, trailing 2-1. I was about to serve, and suddenly, the Omni Arena erupted with chants of ‘USA! USA!’ I don’t remember how, but we managed to win that point, and it sparked a comeback. By the last serve, the entire arena was rocking, chanting ‘USA!’ I usually block out the crowd, but in that moment, I couldn’t ignore it.”

These influential Olympians are shaping the future of volleyball in the United States, imparting their expertise and passion onto the next generation of athletes. Their dedication to the sport and the development of young players is invaluable in fostering a strong volleyball culture in the country.


Q: What is the High Performance Championships (HPC)?
A: The High Performance Championships is a prestigious event where young volleyball players in the United States have the opportunity to showcase their skills and compete at a high level. It is a platform for identifying and developing talent for future national and international competitions.

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Q: How can young volleyball players make it to the Olympics?
A: Making it to the Olympics requires hard work, dedication, and a dream. It starts with setting goals, creating a plan, and consistently working towards them. Players should focus on improving their skills, mental strength, and teamwork. Being a good teammate, paying attention to details, and going the extra mile are crucial aspects. Believing in oneself and having the determination to succeed are essential.

Q: What is the role of Olympians in coaching at HPCs?
A: Olympians bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to coaching at HPCs. They serve as mentors and role models, teaching young athletes the USA style of volleyball and sharing their insights on what it takes to reach the Olympic level. Their guidance and expertise inspire young players to work harder, improve their skills, and strive for excellence.


The pursuit of Olympic dreams drives young volleyball players across the United States to train harder and aspire to greatness. At the 2016 High Performance Championships, U.S. Olympians such as Danielle Scott-Arruda and Jeff Nygaard are coaching High Performance teams, imparting their expertise and inspiring the next generation of volleyball players. These Olympians emphasize the importance of hard work, teamwork, and mental strength in reaching the Olympic level. Their dedication to coaching and shaping young athletes ensures a bright future for volleyball in the United States.

For more information and to stay updated on the latest news and events in the world of volleyball, visit the Alpinetgheep website.