Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bump, Set, Spike for The Journey

It might be an Olympics year--my favorite kind of year--but I'm about to sound really stupid about a sport primarily highlighted during the Games. I'd like to think that I watch a lot of Olympic sports except volleyball's not one of them. Beach volleyball, a little, but only because Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor and the gripping men's competition in Beijing were too exciting not to watch, and they often played between the swimming coverage. But indoor volleyball, no. It's no one's fault but my own--I think I'm still scarred from the weeks of volleyball we had to play in high school gym class where I whacked someone on the head two courts away and knocked his hat off (an embarrassingly true story).

I might be less into volleyball than I am into swimming, skiing and running, as far as Olympic sports go, but a contest that Mizuno launched has me wishing I could pull a 13 Going on 30 number and wake up tomorrow as a teenager, and a volleyball-playing one at that. And if we're going all-out with the fantasies, I'd want to defy my family's genetics that err on the side of shortness. But dreamland aside, it's the contest that has me excited even without being a volleyballer.

Mizuno created The Journey, an online contest for young volleyball players, as a way to celebrate its partnership with the USA Men's and Women's National Indoor Volleyball team. The Journey encourages volleyball players to submit video diaries, photos and essays about how they've been shaped by the competitive sport. From this collection of inspiring stories, Mizuno will award a volleyball clinic to the grand prize winner's team in his or her hometown, conducted by a USA Volleyball team member. Entrants also have the opportunity to win Mizuno Volleyball footwear, apparel and accessories. All for sharing their stories of competitive drive and passion. If that's not inspiring for someone who has aspirations to earn a spot on the national team then I don't know what is.

I spoke too soon. The Journey goes one step further with its interactive Facebook page that features video diaries from some of USA Volleyball's top players and experiences from the 2012 National Volleyball Team as they prepare for the Summer Olympics. Combine those with the stories the younger athletes will be telling, and we'll get to see how athletes follow their passion and their dedication to the sport--all part of that journey from the junior ranks to the Olympics. Story telling and sport? It's like a Dick Enberg moment but it doesn't have to wait for the NBC Olympics broadcast to air.

Photo and video grabbed from

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