Aug. 1, 1997
Notre Dame Senior Jaimie Lee Named to U.S. World University Games Team
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Notre Dame's Jaimie Lee (Spokane, Wash.) is one of 12 players to survive the final cut and will serve as the first Notre Dame player ever to earn a spot on the U.S. World University Games team, USA Volleyball announced today.
Lee, a senior outside hitter, and the rest of Team USA will compete in the 1997 World University Games (WUG) from August 18-31 in Sicily, Italy (in the island's primary towns of Catania, Palermo and Messina). The WUG are held every other year for athletes ranging from the ages of 17-28. The U.S. is sending a total of 261 athletes in nine sports to this year's events in Sicily.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment for Jaimie and a special day in the history of our program," said Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown, who has transformed Irish volleyball into one of the nation's elite programs. "Jaimie had an excellent spring practice for us and she kept getting better throughout the summer while at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). This could be a very memorable senior year for Jaimie, beginning with the World University Games, and we are very happy for her."
The WUG volleyball team first will travel to Winnipeg to compete in the Canada Cup (Aug. 5-12) against the full national teams from Canada, Germany and Hungary before flying to Chicago and then on to Sicily.
Lee was one of 87 original competitors at the U.S. national team tryouts in early March. On March 13, USA Volleyball announced that Lee was one of 10 official invitees to compete for the World University Games. Several other players were added to that mix throughout the summer training, with 18 players comprising the roster prior to the final cut to 12 players. USA Volleyball also has announced a 12-player U.S. national team that will compete at the upcoming World Grand Prix (the national team and WUG team trained and competed against each other throughout the summer).
"This has been a great experience--it makes me want to come right back (to the OTC) as soon as possible," said Lee, who will serve as the '97 Notre Dame co-captain along with classmate Angie Harris. "If I have the chance, I may come back next January. The experience has intensified my desire to one day compete for the Olympic team and they do everything right here to help you be your best. This has been the best summer of my life. It's been a very rewarding, and very tiring, three months."
The World University Games team will be coached by Brian Hosfeld, the current head women's volleyball coach at Baylor. Hosfeld will be assisted by Julie Hermann, the current head coach at Tennessee, and Albert Gasparian, a member of the 1995 WUG staff and the current head coach at Golden West (Calif.) Junior College.
"One of Jaimie's obvious strengths is that she is a good athlete. And one of the plusses with that athleticism is that she is very interested in getting better," said Hosfeld, who has worked with the WUG candidates for most of the summer. "Jaimie is the most technical player that we have and by that I mean that she moves very efficiently, which leads to outstanding ball control. It's just been great to work with her. She even has done a little bit of setting for us and I wouldn't hesitate using her at that position if our setters aren't getting it done. Jaimie has shown a great deal of maturity to handle role changes like that."
The 5-11 Lee, who is the shortest non-setter on the '97 WUG team, also is one of four players from a Midwest school that were named to the squad. The other hitters are '97 Iowa graduate Kara Milling, Texas junior Demetria Sance and University of the Pacific junior Elsa Stegemann. The setters are '97 Ohio State graduate Laura Davis and '97 Northern Iowa graduate Kara Galer while the middle blockers include UCLA sophomore Elizabeth Bachman, Long Beach State junior Benishe Dillard and '97 Stanford graduate Eileen Murfee. Loyola Marymount senior Sarah Noriega is one of the team's opposites while UCLA senior Kara Milling and '97 UC Santa Barbara graduate Kimberly Keys are listed as outside hitters/opposites. Lee should face three of her World University Games teammates during Notre Dame's '97 season: Sance (10/21), Keyes (11/28) and Dillard (11/29).
"This year's World University Games should be very strong, because Cuba and Brazil will be there after not attending in 1995," said Hosfeld of the 16-team tournament. "We have a great team of players who work hard and are willing to learn. Past University Games teams haven't had as much time to prepare and it's been great to see how determined this team is."
Due to the timing of the World University Games, Lee will miss Notre Dame's season-opening Shamrock Invitational (Aug. 29-30), which includes four teams that qualified for the 1996 NCAAs: Louisville, Oral Roberts, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
The final months of 1997 could provide many memorable moments for Lee. In addition to her experience of training and competing with the World University Games team, she will rejoin her Notre Dame teammates in time for the Spikeoff Spokane (Sept. 5-6), which will be held in her hometown of Spokane, Wash. Lee also hopes to play at the Spokane Arena again in mid-December, as the facility will play host to the NCAA Championship on Dec. 18 and 20.
Lee, a member of the 1993 U.S. youth national team and the '94 and '95 U.S. Olympic Festival teams, was the BIG EAST Conference player of the year as a junior in '96, when she also repeated as an all-district selection. She served as the team's fill-in setter for the first 14 matches of '96 before returning to hitter, where she averaged 3.78 kills per game over the final 20 matches.
JAIMIE LEE (on her summer at the Olympic Training Center): "There is a lot more intensity than I've ever been used to. You can't just go through the motions--you have to push hard every day. It's definitely a different level of intensity. ... We also do a lot of community relations work for various charities, speaking functions, playing with kids--things like that. It's just another part of the experience. ... I love Colorado. It's very beautiful and we've had the chance to enjoy the outdoors, doing things like rafting and exploring caves and waterfalls."
"It was kind of overwhelming when I got here, especially because I was practicing with the national team the first week. The altitude was a definite factor. It takes time for your body to get acclimated. ... The entire Olympic Training Center is first-class. The sports medicine program here is amazing. It's nice that everything is located right here in the training center. One day you'll be sitting in the dining hall and (swimmer) Amy Van Dyken or (gymnast) Amanda Borden will be sitting next to you. A national team wrestler lives next door to me. It's quite an experience to be around people who are on Wheaties boxes and stuff like that."
"I have improved a lot on my ball control. When you are playing with a bunch of all-stars, it forces you to step up your game every day. You don't want to be here for 12 weeks and be cut. ... Brian (Hosfeld) has helped me improve in a lot of areas. He is great at developing the technical side and challenges us at practice. He can get you out of your comfort zone and that's made me push myself farther than I ever thought I could."