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Larson-Burbach: From Hooper, Nebraska to the big wide world of volleyball

 
Jordan Quinn Larson-Burbach in World Grand Prix action
 
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 12, 2014 - The two FIVB World Championships are the highlights of the year. Each week in the run up to the title showdown for the women in Italy (September 23 to October 12), we will introduce an international volleyball star. In part 18 of the series, we tell the story of Jordan Quinn Larson-Burbach, who won the FIVB Club World Championship for a Russian team this year and now aims to lead the USA to World Championship glory.

Jordan Quinn Larson-Burbach comes from Hooper, a town in Nebraska, home to 830 inhabitants. When she was 12 years old, her parents asked her what she wanted to do with her life – and they were astonished by their daughter's reply. “I told them that I wanted to be an Olympian. They thought I was crazy. But I proved that you can achieve what you really want.”

Jordan Quinn has travelled from her small home village to the big wide world of volleyball, where she is an internationally-feared outside hitter. She didn't just become an Olympian, she even won a silver medal at the summer games in London in 2012. When she was a child, she wasn't quite sure which sport she wanted to take up and played football, basketball, softball and volleyball. When her parents pushed her into a decision, she chose volleyball.

But even then, it took her a while to pick the position that she plays in today. "I actually started as a setter, transitioned to middle blocker and then to an outside hitter. Just remembering where I was before is kind of crazy to think about. I have become such a better player and teammate.”

Her individual awards at major events show just how versatile Larson-Burbach is: the 1.87m athlete has already been best server, best receiver and best blocker. As a player who is at ease anywhere on the court, the 27-year-old has become an important factor in the successes of the United States team. She has already won the World Grand Prix and the NORCECA Championships twice each with the team.

Her goal now is to celebrate a major success for her home country at the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Italy. The US women's team has never won the World Championship title, with their biggest success to date coming in the form of silver in 2002. “It has always been my dream to win gold for the USA,” said Larson-Burbach. “To represent the USA is such an honour. It’s bigger than me. It gives me the chills. And I’m very, very blessed.”

But she is also an ambassador for her country in a very special place. After she majored in communication studies at the University of Nebraska, with a minor in psychology, graduating in December 2008, she went out into the big wide world. Larson-Burbach has played for the Russian club Dinamo Kazan since 2009. Alongside Russia’s international star Ekaterina Gamova, she led the club to victory in the European Champions League and the FIVB Club World Championship last season.

The political situation is tense, but as an ambassador Larson-Burbach contributes a positive spirit. “I really enjoy it in Kazan. I already feel a little bit like a Russian, even though I don’t really speak the language very well. The people are so friendly,” she said in spring.

“I’m from Nebraska. It’s cold there too. Not -20° degrees like in Russia, but cold. That’s the reason why the weather wasn’t a big shock for me.” At times she misses American food while in Russia. However, an American player doesn't really have many options to play volleyball professionally other than abroad. It's easy to see why: there is no professional league in the US like the ones in Europe and South America. Like many of the other American volleyball players,
Larson-Burbach has had to leave her home to play volleyball at a high club level.

It's not always an easy decision: “I really enjoy seeing new places and meeting new people, although I sometimes get homesick for the USA.” Larson-Burbach, who has been married since 2009, can fulfill her longing for home with the national team – and when she leaves the big wide world of volleyball now and again to take a trip to her home town of Hooper, Nebraska.




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