Press Conference Transcription - Tournament of Champions
Laurel Brassey Iversen (New Mexico)
Q: HOW DID THIS TOURNAMENT ORIGINATE?
LAUREL BRASSEY IVERSEN (LBI): "All of us have thought about this. It's always fun to go to a tournament where you know the other coaches and it's more than just playing volleyball. I know we've all been in tournament before where we don't really know the other coaches. ... We're all looking forward to getting together, with our families, and just talk and have a little bit of fun."
DB: "We all are very competitive people and all have competitive programs. So, not only is this a good opportunity for us to renew our friendships and spend some time together but it also is going to what I believe a very competitive tournament. If we didn't feel like we had competitive programs, then we probably wouldn't have followed through with it. We know that each of us can beat the others on a given night ... and that makes it even more of a challenge. ... For me, if we come out and the team plays really well, win or lose, we all are going to feel really good about it. ... We'd all like to see our teams come out and play really well."
Q: WHAT STEPS DO YOU FEEL NEED TO BE TAKEN TO INCREASE VOLLEYBALL EXPOSURE?
LBI: "...in the last Olympics, (there were) a lot of other sports that did well in Atlanta. Having the Olympics in our own country, of course there was all kind of exposure. ... The (women's) volleyball team didn't do very well. They were expected to do well and when they didn't, all of a sudden you didn't even see volleyball (on television) anymore. We saw gymnastics and basketball and softball and soccer and I think that gave a big boost to those sports in the United States. So it was really kind of a setback for us, when that could have been a huge boost to expose more kids to volleyball and see the U.S. team doing very well on an international level. ... (Beach volleyball) is a different game and it attracts a different crowd. But it's volleyball nonetheless and I think in a way it kind of helps us to get exposure for (indoor) volleyball.
Q: WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS TODAY ABOUT THE 1980 BOYCOTT?
SW: "There's one other thing, for Laurie and my perspective, in that we continued on to '84. And at the '84 Olympics, it was something I had trained for 11 years for and it was quite an experience--absolutely extraordinary--and we had the chance to win the silver medal. But one of the most conflicting and difficult times was to see my (former 1980) teammates (in the stands) and not on the playing surface. ... That experience in '80 will not necessarily haunt all of us but it was an extremely difficult experience. We took some pretty great memories from our times together.
LBI: "Regardless of what all of us went on to accomplish afterwards, I think that experience of training together and leading up to the boycott of 1980 made all of us the type of people that we are. We continued on to do other things and persevered. Somehow I feel that if we hadn't had that experience in our lives we wouldn't be people that we are today. It's helped us get through all kinds of other problems and face other types of situations in our lives that maybe we wouldn't of handled as well had we not been through that experience. ... We had so many other great experiences leading up to 1980, other tournament that we played in, and I don't know that any of us would trade any of that, even knowing that the outcome would be the same. I think we'd all do it again."
DB: "We can look back now and know that there was a boycott but the experiences that we had and the opportunity that we had to travel the world and play against the best teams and the fact that we made a commitment as a group that we were going to accomplish something. There was such a strong faith and belief in what we were going to accomplish. The bonds that developed were so strong--I can't really describe it, it was just an incredible experience. ... My closest friends to this day are the ones that are on this (teleconference) right now and it's just because of the time that we spent together and the things that we went through, the trust and faith that we developed in each other. ... We had a reunion a few years ago and relived our stories. The thing that was great about it was that ... here were our teammates that were, at this point, spread out across the country and we just knew, and I know today, that if I ever needed anything from any of them that I could call them and that in a heartbeat they would do whatever they could for me. It's rare to have those type of friends--(maybe) one or two in your lifetime--but here we have this group that is incredibly strong and support each other through anything. For me, that's worth any Olympic gold medal or anything that we could have achieved together."
Q: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FRIENDSHIP?
LBI: "I think all of us have reaped the benefits of participating in sports. All of us reached the highest level but I think we absolutely got out of it the best it has to offer. I think all of believe that's what the Olympic movement and participating in sports, even at a lower level, is all about. The relationships that you build with other people, the trust that you develop and the responsibility that you learn. And I think that's what all of us now are trying to pass along to our student-athletes, trying to give them some opportunities where they can not only play good competition but also where they can enjoy the trip and maybe see some nice things and have a nice time and not just go from the airport to the gym, to the hotel and back. My players are really excited about this tournament because they know that the four of us are really good friends and they are waiting to see us in action. I think all of us are very fortunate to have made the lasting friendships ... that's something that some people never have in their lives. I know my players are really looking forward to meeting the other coaches and their teams also."
LC: "It makes me just want to get in a big room with all these teams and have the four of us share experiences, fun times and things about the others that the girls can really laugh about and learn from. ... I know my players got to meet Sue and Debbie at the national team tryouts in April ... I practically pulled them into the dorm room where Sue and Deb were, and Debbie Green was there and myself, and just wanted them to see another side of me, I wanted them to see another side of me and get to know some of my closets friends. They still talk to me about that and still tease me about some of the stories they heard from those guys that night. ... That's part of what I love about coaching, getting to know other sides of people. ... It tells a lot about a person to meet the people that they are closest to."
Q: HOW DO YOU VIEW THE COMPETITION AT THIS TOURNAMENT?
DB: "If this wasn't going to be a competitive tournament, it wouldn't have come to pass. ... It's going to be competitive and a very good learning experience for our players."
LC: "I can tell you these teams are going to get on the floor and want to represent their program and their friend/coach of the coach the best they can. I think they all have a lot of pride for what they do. ... These kids had a good rapport with their particular coach and they want to represent that coach well and I know every team is going to battle to do that. This tournament is going to be one of a lot of pride and representation. ... I'm anticipating some incredibly long rallies, great volleyball and a lot of fight. I told my team that these three coaches that you are going to play against are defensive machines ... these guys can teach defense and passing better than anyone I know."
SW: "I think in the end we want our team to make a statement for our sport out on the court. Our past brings interest from the press and then to the people on the outside. We want people to come and ... get hooked on the volleyball."
LBI: "(Getting back to an earlier point), it's a constant fight for us. We are always having to do things to promote our teams and get exposure. ... This is a pretty interesting story ... and it's up to us to keep the media informed and maybe it will excite some people to come out and see what's going on."
Q: HOW DID YOU ALL GET INTO COACHING?
DB: "I knew before we moved to Colorado Springs to train that I wanted to coach. ... When I decided to leave the team, I had a plan, and that was to finish school and to start coaching at the collegiate level. I think that helped me, in terms of my coaching, knowing as a player that I wanted to be a coach, I think you might look at things a little different than if you are just a player that is out there doing what your coach is telling you to. As a player, I wanted to understand why we did everything, why we would change things. And I think that really prepared me to go into the coaching field. ... I loved working with people, my degree is in education, and coaching is actually teaching and working with people. I do love that aspect. ... If a player comes by to talk with me, that's the best thing that could ever happen to me."
LBI: "Late in my career, I finally accepted the fact that I wanted to be a coach. I come from a family of teachers, my mom and two sisters were teachers. ... Towards the end of my career on the national team, I saw how much Deb loved coaching ... and I really enjoyed seeing players grow and learn things. That was really rewarding to me and I enjoy that interaction very much. ... I feel like for a long time I was preparing to be a coach but I didn't really accept it until I finished playing.
SW: " I'm probably the odd one. I did not want to be a P.E. teacher and I was not sure about coaching. I was interested in all kinds of other things. ... I played until I was a lot older than the others and was in and out of coaching. ... At first, I didn't really like coaching ... (because) of all the other things you have to do. I just thought I was going to have to be in the gym and all of a sudden you have to deal with all these other aspects. It's taken quite a while to get the whole thing balanced. I agree with Deb and really enjoy interacting with the players. ... I would have never expected early on that I would be a coach. My mother was also a teacher. ... When we finished in 1980, I didn't have any other experience ... and I too was hired without a degree. So I think we had some great athletic directors that took chances on us and thought we might be pretty good."
Q: WHAT WILL BE THE TOUGHEST PART OF THIS WEEKEND?