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Olympian Ball visits Trine
U.S. volleyball team player leaves Trine crowd thunderstruck
Lloy Ball could have played basketball for I.U.’s Bobby Knight, but an eventual Olympic gold medal hung in the balance when he chose to play volleyball for his dad in Fort Wayne instead.
Ball, a member of the gold medal-winning Olympic U.S. volleyball team, captivated the audience in Trine University’s Hershey Hall Thursday, when he visited the campus to talk about his Olympic experience, the dedication and discipline needed for such success, and his value for the support of his family and friends.
Vignettes such as the Bobby Knight decision kept local volleyball players, students, and residents spellbound, as Ball’s speaking ability, character, and Olympic star quality shone through.
The theme of sacrifice wove through his presentation, made in his USA player uniform with the gold medal hanging on his neck. He described his Olympics experience, pointing out that winning every contest in Beijing meant never touring the city or local attractions once. On the U.S. National Team as well, a typical schedule finds the players practicing, playing, eating, sleeping, and jumping back on the bus for a plane.
He sacrifices time with his wife and two children, missing out on chances to help out with math homework or just spend time with his family, he said. He was pleased his family could accompany him to Beijing to experience Chinese culture during this Olympics, the only Olympics of his four in which the U.S. even won a game.
He became emotional describing his father, Arnie, who coached his volleyball team at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne to three NCAA Final Fours, and said he hoped to emulate his admirable qualities as a man and father. He said he planned to compete in the Olympics as a young teenager, and began working on skills by batting a balloon with his dad.
He spoke directly to the players in the audience, telling them the gold medal represents all Americans. He then invited those assembled to join him for autographs, photos, and a chance to touch the medal. He also autographed two volleyballs to go up for auction at the sixth annual Scholarship Gala on Feb. 14, 2009, to raise scholarships for Trine students.