CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Former Illini setter Jordyn Poulter can’t remember the last time she went two weeks without playing volleyball.
“I’m excited to get back in the gym with the girls,” says Poulter. “It’s just weird being on this timeline that’s not concrete, because as athletes we are usually told where to be, what to do on very specific days, and this feels very weird, to be home at for two weeks”
The two-time All-American was in self-quarantine for 14 days, after returning home from Europe. Poulter spent the last two seasons playing with Chieri 76, a professional team in Italy, but the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus.
“It just progressively starting getting worse and worse,” says Poulter. “Watching the U.S. press conferences overseas are sometimes startling, because you don’t know how quickly they’re going to move.”
Poulter was able to leave Europe just in time, with travel restrictions put in place 24-hours after she got back. Now with the professional season over, Poulter can focus her attention to the U.S. National Team. She’s one of three setters competing for two spots on the Olympic roster, and with the 2020 games postponed a year, she’s using the extra time to her advantage.
“You’re constantly fighting to make another roster and the Olympics is no exception to that,” says Poulter. “So it’s going to be a lot of on the fly, and a lot of adjusting, but hopefully well come out better in the end.”
Illinois Volleyball head coach Chris Tamas has stayed in touch with Poulter since she graduated from Illinois. His wife, Jen Tamas, won a silver medal with Team USA in 2008. The two have been mentors for Poulter as she begins her own journey with the US National team.
“Since day one I knew she had that ‘it factor’, and we just told her, ‘hey, you just keep doing what you’re doing, you’re doing great, and you’ll have a chance to prove yourself no matter what,’” says Chris Tamas.
Poulter isn’t sure when training or competitions will pick back up, but for now the Colorado-native is enjoying her much-needed time at home.
“It’s hard to be overseas away from your friends and your family,” says Poulter. “Life event events that happen without you being in the United States, but it’s part of our sport, and part of not having a league here in the U.S., so it’s what we have to do to.”
Those sacrifices have been all worthwhile, even more so if she gets a chance to represent the United States at the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympic Games.