Blogtober Day 26: Lloy Ball

Guess who returned to the OTC tonight after an epic day of Halloween costume-making to find that the USOC had shut off the Internet! This is the second time in several weeks that this has happened and I've had ZERO notice; everyone that works at USOC HQ got an email about it, but do they not realize that they have multiple interns that don't work at HQ but live at the OTC? No? Sigh.

So, if we're getting all technical about things, Blogtober has been foiled by a giant first world problem. However, my definition of a day is the time from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to sleep at night. Therefore, since I'm still very much awake (even though it's after midnight), it's still today in my book. And I'm going to retroactively date this post, so it'll say it's published on the correct date. Take that, Goldnet! I win!

Lloy Ball looks more like a member of Hell's Angels than a volleyball player, amirite? I don't think I'd want to run into a dude that looks like that in a dark alley. But interestingly, he was the setter on the U.S. Men's National Volleyball team, not an attacker. (For those of you that don't know volleyball, the setter is like the quarterback; he runs the offense, but very rarely does he score himself. But when he does, it's pretty.)

Basically, Lloy is just as bad-ass as his tattoos make him look. He grew up in Indiana, where men's volleyball wasn't a sanctioned high school sport, so he played basketball during the school year and volleyball during the summer. When he was 15, he became the youngest volleyball player ever to compete at the U.S. Olympic Festival, and when he was 16 he became the youngest player ever to compete on the national team. He was recruited by THE Bobby Knight to play basketball for Indiana, but Lloy decided to play volleyball instead. He rejected Bobby Knight.

With the national team, Lloy went on to become a four-time Olympian (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008). His first two Olympics were pretty rough, but the team improved to fourth place in 2004. Lloy wasn't planning on returning for a fourth Games, but eventually decided that he wanted his young son to remember him playing in the Olympics... and then he led the team to the gold medal in Beijing.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering; his parents named him after his grandfather, Lloyd, but dropped the D from the end to make him unique. A+.)

Lloy is the first American men's volleyball player ever to compete in four Olympics. He'd been such a mainstay on the national team for so long that, when he retired in 2011, it created something of a vacuum at setter; what the heck do we do without Lloy running our offense?! Apparently that had something to do with the team's performance in London. "Before Lloy" and "After Lloy" is kind of a thing. They're still trying to regroup.

On an entirely unrelated note, since volleyball is so often thought of as a girls' sport, I love that there was this big, tattooed, tough-guy type in there to break the mold. But he also runs a volleyball clinic with his dad and got his daughter's name tattooed on him so, y'know, he fits into a grand total of zero stereotypes. And that's awesome.

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