OPINION

Legislative Update with Senator Julie Slama

Nebraska City News-Press

Olympic Gold for a Small Town Husker

Sportswriters will spend the next few years picking apart the best moments of this year’s Olympic Games. In spite of all that seems to divide us, we can all unite every few years to support our heroes on Team USA. Nebraska had several medal-worthy moments during the Games, but none shone brighter than Jordan Larson’s performance on the last day of competition.

Jordan Larson, hometown of Hooper, NE (pop. 830), grew up like many girls here in Nebraska. She idolized the Nebraska volleyball team and dreamed of one day being a Husker.

Jordan's dream came true. In 2006, she scored the winning point for Nebraska in the National Championship game. I was ten years old and watched on ESPN with the girls that would be my high school volleyball teammates at Auburn. We bought headbands like Jordan wore and peppered volleyballs, realizing girls from small towns could dream big and grow up to be Husker volleyball stars.

Jordan kept dreaming and playing. Her professional volleyball career took her around the globe. Teammates nicknamed her "The Governor," both for her leadership skills and dedicated following of Nebraskans who would attend her matches in every country. Jordan always took time to sign autographs and talk with fans who came to see her play.

Last weekend, Jordan took the last swing of her career on the biggest stage in the world. She scored the winning point for Team USA's first-ever women's indoor volleyball Olympic gold medal. It was also the gold medal that topped China in the final medal count of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Jordan Larson retires as one of the best players ever to step foot on a volleyball court. You wouldn't know it if you met her, though. She's still a Nebraskan at heart, with a work ethic and humble attitude that keeps her grounded while living an extraordinary life. Jordan Larson is a Nebraska Legend, both on and off the court. 

Practices for fall sports are already underway across middle schools and high schools. The familiar thuds of a volleyball game will soon remind us of fall and the quickly approaching winter. The Husker volleyball team looks strong this year, but then again, when doesn’t it? Just as consistently as John Cook always seems to put together a solid team, little girls in Nebraska will discover the game of volleyball. Players at every level could learn from Jordan Larson’s path from Hooper to Olympic gold in Tokyo. We all could.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Nebraska State Senator Julie Slama