Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Lloy Ball, Heather Bown, and Rod Wilde: Embracing the Love of Volleyball at the USA Volleyball Open Nationals

The USA Volleyball Open National Championships is an event that caters to players of all ages and skill levels. It provides a platform for athletes who have represented the United States in international competitions to continue their passion for the game. Lloy Ball, Rod Wilde, Heather Bown, and several others are among the notable players who have graced the Opens with their presence. These athletes, who once wore the Red, White, and Blue on an international stage, now step onto the Sport Court tiles at the Minneapolis Convention Center to give back to the sport that has given them so much.

Lloy Ball: A Legacy of Excellence

Lloy Ball, a four-time Olympian and a key player in the U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team’s 2008 gold medal victory, has been a regular participant at the Opens since retiring from the U.S. Men’s National Team. Over the years, he has transitioned from the Open Division to the Premier Volleyball League and now competes in the master’s age group divisions. In this year’s tournament, Ball showcased his exceptional skills as he led Balboa Bay/Team Pineapple to an undefeated run without dropping a single set in the Men’s 45 Division. His outstanding performance earned him the title of the division’s most valuable player.

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Playing in multiple divisions within a short span of time can be physically demanding. However, Ball appreciates how USA Volleyball has taken measures to minimize the strain on players’ bodies. With a deep and talented team by his side, Ball is confident in their ability to share playing time and remain fresh throughout the competition. While the Opens present a different challenge compared to his previous experiences, Ball firmly believes that he is exactly where he needs to be in his volleyball journey.

Heather Bown: Embracing New Opportunities

Heather Bown, a three-time Olympian and silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games, is also participating in the Opens, albeit in a different capacity. Despite not having any physical disabilities, Bown has found joy in competing in the Sitting Division for the second consecutive year. Last year, she discovered the excitement of sitting volleyball and couldn’t resist the opportunity to continue her journey in Minneapolis.

Playing alongside members of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Sitting Teams, Bown appreciates the inclusive nature of the Sitting Division. This division aims to promote the sport and raise awareness about sitting volleyball. Although there are a few variations from the standing game, Bown sees it as an opportunity to further develop her skills. She acknowledges the challenges, particularly in terms of movement and positioning, but her supportive teammates have made the learning process enjoyable.

Bown encourages all players, regardless of their standing game experience, to give sitting volleyball a try. She highlights that while the rules may differ slightly, the essence of the sport remains the same. Exploring different dimensions of the game and finding joy in new experiences is what keeps Bown’s love for volleyball alive.

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Rod Wilde: A Lifelong Dedication

Rod Wilde, a former U.S. Olympic Men’s Team player and assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team, has been a regular participant in the Opens for as long as he can remember. For Wilde, the Opens hold a special place in his heart, as he grew up attending the event with his parents, who were also volleyball players. Today, the Opens have become a family tradition, with his parents now watching him compete.

The Opens provide a unique opportunity for volleyball enthusiasts to come together and foster a sense of camaraderie. The sense of community is particularly evident to Wilde, who encounters familiar faces year after year. The volleyball fellowship that permeates throughout the event is what draws him back each season.

At 60 years old, Wilde shows no signs of slowing down. While he understands that the wear and tear on his body may have increased over the years, he remains committed to the sport he loves. Inspired by his father, who played volleyball until the age of 82, Wilde plans to continue playing for as long as his body allows.


Q: What is the purpose of the USA Volleyball Open National Championships?
A: The USA Volleyball Open National Championships aims to provide a platform for volleyball players of all ages and skill levels to compete and enjoy the game.

Q: How long has Lloy Ball been participating in the Opens?
A: Lloy Ball has been competing in the Opens since retiring from the U.S. Men’s National Team. He has participated in various divisions, including the Open Division, Premier Volleyball League, and master’s age group divisions.

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Q: What is the Sitting Division in the Opens?
A: The Sitting Division in the Opens allows both able-bodied athletes and members of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Sitting Teams to compete together. It aims to promote sitting volleyball as a sport and create exposure for the discipline.


The USA Volleyball Open Nationals serve as a testament to the enduring love and dedication that athletes like Lloy Ball, Heather Bown, and Rod Wilde have for the game of volleyball. Through their participation in the Opens, they continue to inspire others and contribute to the growth of the sport. As the Opens provide a platform for players of all backgrounds and abilities, this event truly embodies the inclusive and joyful spirit of volleyball.

For more information and updates on the USA Volleyball Open Nationals, visit Alpinetgheep.