Thompson Wins Fans, League Title In Puerto Rico
April 19, 2012
SEATTLE - Always a crowd favorite during her historic Husky run from 2003-06, All-American Courtney Thompson is still spreading the good vibes, and still winning championships. Her latest came in Puerto Rico, where Thompson just led the Cataño Lancheras to the Super League title with a sweep of the best of seven series.
And as this story points out (in Spanish), Thompson and the devoted Cataño fans have formed a wonderful bond. She played for Cataño two years back, but went to Europe last year, leading a team in Switzerland to the league championship there as well. The fans were glad to have her back.
This fan base--that gives the highest praise to their American setter, brings her gifts after games, and missed her last year--is Thompson's reason for playing.
"They mean a lot to me. The best thing about playing here is the people. As much as I want to win for me and my team, I want it more for the people who follow us, support us and make volleyball a lot more fun. They make playing professional volleyball here worthwhile," she said.
Thompson, who is from "the remote state of Washington", is "adored in the bay" according to the story.
Thompson and her teammates rewarded that fan base with the first ever title in club history this week. In the Puerto Rico Super League championship best-of-seven final round, Catano captured the title in four matches in upsetting fashion over top-seed Caguas.
In the fourth match on April 15, Catano started strong with a 25-20 victory, only to look shaky with 25-21 and 25-9 losses in the second and third sets. Catano rallied back to win the fourth set 25-18, then put away the match and series with a 15-12 victory in the final set.
The league's version of the Finals MVP honors went to Thompson, who was quick to share credit.
"When I saw the talent we had on this team, from the first day I knew we had a real opportunity to lift the trophy," said Thompson. "I always visualized this taking place. When you have good attackers, the award often goes to the setter and I think that's what happened. I'm happy for both the championship and the honor."
A championship celebration photo gallery on the Lancheras website gives the proper scope to any American fans who might not realize the popularity of the sport in Puerto Rico, home of current Husky setter Jenni Nogueras and assistant coach Jose "Keno" Gandara. The arena is packed with thousands of fans, celebrating Cataño supporters pour out into the streets, and Thompson is in the midst of it all, with television reporters closing ranks around her. The joyous celebration also includes some live music with Thompson sitting in on trumpet. Still making noise wherever she goes.
Info from USAVolleyball.org contributed to this story.