Junior Courtney Place one day received an email.
“I am writing to invite YOU to join the USA D-II Volleyball Select Team Brazil Tour 2018,” wrote Brazil Volleyball Tour Coordinator Ron Smith.
Overjoyed when she opened the email, Place knew that she was in for the experience of a lifetime.
This summer, Place will travel to Brazil to represent the United States on a volleyball tour.
Place, an outside hitter, notched a career high of 26 kills in a single match this past season. In her two seasons at Augie, she has recorded a total of 851 kills. For those numbers, Place received an invitation to play volleyball in Brazil, an opportunity she could not pass up.
Place credits head volleyball coach Jennifer Jacobs’ coaching for a lot of her success, saying she taught her valuable lessons on and off the court.
“She taught me that you don’t have to use full swing all the time, can tool off the block,” Place said.
The lessons do not stop on the court, Place said.
“There is always something you can do as a teammate to help out. Whether it’s shagging balls or getting coffee with a teammate you don’t know very well,” Place said.
Jacobs encouraged Place to take advantage of the chance to go play in Brazil with USA Volleyball.
Place will be the first volleyball player from Augustana to play with the elite group, which is under the USA Volleyball umbrella.
Team USA, a team made up of the top Division II athletes in volleyball every summer, travels to different countries to compete every summer.
Smith said Place’s spot on the team may open up opportunities for other athletes.
“Aside from representing the USA on the court, the trip will also provide the team members with educational, social and cultural outreach opportunities within the communities visited,” Smith said.
Place will be competing against some of the world’s most elite volleyball players. Volleyball is Brazil’s second most popular sport behind soccer.
When reflecting on her decision to accept the invitation to the tour, Place said it “sounded like a really good opportunity, [since I have] never been out of the country before—a good opportunity to explore and be outside of my comfort zone.”
Place will be playing with women from eight different universities across the country.
The USA D-II Volleyball teams will be competing against top adult and professional club teams from the Brazilian states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
While on tour, Place will be coached by Brianna Barry, head volleyball coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Barry played for Florida State and then went on to play professional volleyball in Switzerland for three years.
“I was looking to learn from really experienced coaches as well as meet new friends that will push me to be a better player,” Place said.
Place said she “hopes to play volleyball professionally in the future and this was the perfect opportunity to prepare.”
This tour will be exactly that, as Place will be playing in front of professional team coaches from all over the world. She will be hosted by former Olympic athletes and coaches, national players and coaches, city and university officials, club professionals and the Brazilian military.
“There is nothing average about anyone on this team,” Smith said.
Place said she is looking forward to representing Augustana University and Team USA on the international stage.
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