Volleyball Stories
Laurel Brassey Iversen

The Girl Volleyball Player Who Got Better Than The Boys: Laurel Brassey Iversen

Volleyball Stories Laurel Brassey Iversen

When I was in elementary school, I loved all sports. I had a brother, three years older whom I loved to tag along with, much to his dismay.

His friends never wanted me around and would always complain saying "Can't you get rid of the runt?"

I was little, but tenacious. I absolutely hated the nickname and they always called me that. The more they tried to lose me, the harder I fought to stay close to them.

My greatest satisfaction however was that I was always one of the first chosen when we were forming teams to play baseball, or touch football or other neighborhood games.

At the same time, at school, I was labeled a tomboy, which in the sixties, was not really a popular designation. I didn't mind at all, but I was also called that because I was very skinny.

As a young child I hated those names and I was very conscious about my body. It seems silly now to think those things bothered me so much that I cried often about it, but kids can be very cruel to each other, when we are young, being accepted is so important.

My parents encouraged me to participate in sports and never discouraged me from playing with the boys or from playing sports for that matter.

My mother was an athlete in her day, playing lots of sports and my Dad played semi-pro baseball.

-Volleyball Stories Laurel Brassey Iversen

My Mom was a great role model for me.

Also when I was in the fourth grade, we learned about the Olympic Games and I became enraptured with Wilma Rudolph. 

Wilma overcame great adversity to become an Olympic champion, winning gold medals in the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

I wanted to be like her and run in the Olympic Stadium with thousands cheering as I broke the finish line tape first.

I loved all sports, but I didn't even know about volleyball until I reached high school. This sport was different.

I soon realized that I loved to JUMP! I also loved to get down on the floor and dig, roll and dive for the ball.

This was my Sport.

I got more satisfaction and had more fun playing volleyball than any of the other sports I had played.

I also remember the frustration of learning some of the volleyball skills, spiking in particular. 

But it seemed that I was always driven harder to excel at things that were difficult. If I couldn't do something, it just made me want to do it even more.

Volleyball Stories
Laurel Brassey Iversen

I was also constantly told that I was too small to play volleyball. That just made me want to prove them all wrong

I really believe that fighting to keep up with my brother all those years and be accepted as one of the best players in the neighborhood are some of the elements that helped me strive for excellence in volleyball later on.

Laurel Brassey was

  • the first woman to play on a men's NCAA varsity team, 
  • member of the 1980 USA Women's National team that boycotted the Moscow Olympics and 
  • member of the 1988 USA Women's team that competed in Seoul, Korea.  
  • University of New Mexico's winningest coach with a record of 290-210, over 17 seasons. 1983-86, 1988 - 2000

Volleyball Stories Laurel Brassey Iversen was written by former professional player and one of the world's top setters Laurel Brassey Iversen exclusively for the Volleyball Voices project created and produced by April Chapple. 

No reproduction is allowed. All rights reserved. Volleyball Voices copyright 2018.



San Diego Tribune

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