Oct. 7, 2010
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
It's a good bet Courtney Thompson will win the door prize for longest trip to the 2010 Husky Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The three-time volleyball All-America will be joining her former teammates on Washington's 2005 national championship team in being honored at the event on Oct. 29. And the UW's all-time assist queen will be trekking halfway across the world to get to Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
"I'll be coming from (her professional team in) Austria, back for just a few days," Thompson said this week while on the phone from Anaheim, Calif., where she is currently training with the U.S. national volleyball team.
"I made it hard on myself, but it's worth it to be there. I'm really excited. I'm pumped."
The Huskies' 2005 national champions will join Tina Frimpong (women's soccer, 2001-04), Kristina Kraszewski (women's tennis, 1997-2001), Benji Olson (football, 1995-97), Eldridge Recasner (men's basketball, 1987-90), and Jennifer Spediacci (softball, 1997-2000) in the Hall of Fame's Class of 2010.
Thompson, who turns 26 on Nov. 4, said she's talked to her former teammates and believes at least 10 of the 13 members of Washington's first-ever NCAA volleyball championship team will be at the induction ceremony.
That includes 2005 senior libero Candace Lee, the national defensive player of that year; then-freshman Jill Collymore, who is currently training on the national team with Thompson; and Thompson's close friend Christal Morrison. Morrison, a sophomore on the '05 champs, is now living in Southern California when she is not touring in her second season on the professional beach volleyball circuit.
Thompson said Sanja Tomasevic may be one of the few from the team to miss the ceremony. The Asics national player of the year in 2005 is also playing professionally in Europe. Thompson stays in touch with the native of the former Yugoslavia through internet calls on Skype.
Thompson, who still calls the Seattle suburb of Kent home, is the Pac-10's all-time leader is assists. That record may stand forever now that college volleyball has gone to 25-point sets instead of 30. She's the NCAA's career leader in assists per set with 14.56 and is third in NCAA history with 6,552 assists.
She said the more time removed from that magical title season, the more the magnitude of what those Huskies did sinks in - and the more being honored as a Husky Hall of Famer means.
"I think it's the coolest award I've ever gotten," Thompson said.
"It means a lot to me. When you step away from it, the farther you get away from college, you almost appreciate it more. You go through so much together and work so hard to win a national title. I still love my teammates."
Thompson spends about half her year with her pro team in Vienna, Austria, and the other six months training with the national team. She is pushing is to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 2012 London Games.
Then she'd like to return to Seattle, which she gets back to now only a couple of times annually, to pursue a master's degree in sports administration.
"I would love to coach," Thompson said. "I am a huge fan of college athletics - all based on the experiences I had at U-Dub.
"I can't wait to move back. I love U-Dub. I love Seattle. The day I'm done with volleyball, that's when I'm coming back."