The open tryout included 45 middle blockers, 41 outside hitters, 38 liberos, 31 setters and 20 opposites for a total of 175 athletes participating. A total of 82 colleges were represented among the tryout participants.
Cantrell, a native of Rockwall, Texas, was one of the 38 liberos attempting to make the team. She flew to Colorado Springs on Thursday night for three days of try-outs, playing with some of the best collegiate volleyball student-athletes in the country.
Below is a brief look at Audrey's journey in her eyes:
I flew into Colorado Springs (after a layover in Dallas) on Thursday night. It was snowing like crazy and freezing cold!! The shuttle driver to the hotel almost slid through a stop light it was so bad.
I woke up and had the breakfast of champions, only fitting for Olympic headquarters, which consisted of pancakes, bacon, mixed berries, orange juice and lots of water! Love it!
I took a cab over to the OTC (Olympic Training Center) and immediately felt amazingly proud to be an American! The facility was awesome! I walked into the Athlete Center, got my key and meal card and hauled my stuff to the dorms. I shared a room with a libero from Notre Dame and an outside (I believe) from Florida. As expected, the beds were awesome!
I went to the first practice on Friday afternoon and as I was putting on my stuff, I noticed a deaf man and introduced myself (I took three years of sign in high school) and he was the head coach of the USA Deaf National Team. He was awesome, although he probably thought I was a little weird since my ability to sign was a little rusty.
We got on the court, had our intros with the coaching staff, which was incredible, and started play. We did a little pepper and then started a 6v6 wave. Myself, along with an outside hitter from Tennessee lit our court up. We had a ton of energy and had a blast playing together! Our entire court was awesome! Everyone was fired up and playing extremely well.
We then headed to the dining center for lunch where I ate my heart out! The food was awesome and all healthy! Then I went to the dorms and relaxed for the rest of the day.
The next morning I practiced at 10 a.m. This was the "learning" portion of the try-out where we were taught the national team's way of passing, LOVE IT! Very simple and as I guessed, it is what Mike and Ada have been wanting us to do.
We worked on those drills for a couple of hours and I learned a ton out from it! I was then placed into the 6 p.m. group that night. I was playing with a phenomenal team consisting of right side from Penn State, a middle blocker from Texas and the other from Minnesota, as well as an outside hitter from Cal. It was Amazing! I had a blast! We won every game but one and the one we lost was only by one point, which we found to be questionable. We then switched up teams and I was with the outside from Tennessee and UCLA, which was awesome!
On Saturday afternoon (before the big night), I did some touring of the OTC. I walked down the long row of buildings to find the Olympic torch burning at the end which was pretty cool. Below the torch was the Olympic Hall of Fame, also amazing!
On Sunday morning, I practiced at 9:30 a.m. and played in three games, winning all three!! It was a great way to end the weekend. After practice, we had a small chat with the coaches and then proceeded to stuff our faces one more time before heading to the dorms to move out. As I was waiting for the shuttle, I struck up a conversation with Karch Kiraly and received some awesome tips for the game. One of the tips included being Stopped, Stable, and Neutral on defense. Seems simple, but you would be mistaken!
After our amazing chat, we all headed for the airport and flew to our final destinations. I believe I left the airport in Atlanta at 1 a.m. and was in bed around two. Monday morning class was a BLAST! :( but totally worth it!
As part of the tryout, athletes competed for spots on the U.S. Women's Volleyball National Team program and the U.S. Women's Senior A2 teams. The U.S. Women's National Team program is open to athletes who have concluded their college eligibility and who wish to train full-time. This program could begin as early as February 2010, or when an athlete's scholastic or professional club season has concluded. Athletes who will have remaining collegiate eligibility may still participate in the program with participation beginning May 2010 or when their scholastic calendar ends.
Hugh McCutcheon, the U.S. Women's National Team head coach, led the evaluation process for the tryout. Karch Kiraly (U.S. Women's National Team) and Jamie Morrison (U.S. Women's National Team) also took place in the player evaluations.
Athletes in college with collegiate eligibility remaining for the 2010 season and not selected to the USA Women's National Team may be invited to participate in the USA Senior A2 Team. This program is tentatively scheduled to take place in Phoenix from May 24 through June 2. A projected 24 athletes will be invited to participate in the program, which will include training and competition in the 2010 USA Adult Open Championships in the Open Division from May 29-June 1. USA Volleyball considers the event as the National Championship for the sport of volleyball in the United States.
The U.S. Women's National Team Open Tryout is the only path for a collegiate volleyball player with remaining eligibility to access the U.S. National Team and have an opportunity to be named to the 2010 FIVB World Championship to be played Oct. 29-Nov. 14.