By Candice Kasischke
Intern, Media Relations and Publications
Stanford grad Gabe Gardner, a two-time Olympian and 2008 gold medalist with the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team, is a role model and inspiration to many through his successful athletic career. Along with his world-renowned accomplishments, Gardner also believes in giving back to his community.
"Every athlete I know cherishes giving back to his or her community once they settle down from the rigors of professional sports, and I am no exception." Gardner said in a release from the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Gardner helped Team USA place fourth in the 2004 Olympic Games and capped off his career with the U.S. Men's Team in 2008 with a gold medal in both the Olympics and the FIVB World League. Since he has retired from the U.S. Men's Team, he has taken interest in promoting USA Volleyball.
On June 23, Gardner represented USA Volleyball in hosting Olympic Day festivities at a YMCA in Sacramento, Calif.
From June 19-27, many communities annually celebrate Olympic Day. This is an internationally recognized event that strives to promote the Olympic spirit through the volunteering of Olympic athletes who wish to reach out in their own communities or in other parts of the world.
"I love representing USA Volleyball, especially given the success our sport has seen during the last Olympics," Gardner said. "Kids feed off seeing and touching a gold medal, our huge stature, and meeting us in person. I would not miss this same opportunity in the future.
"I think as an NGB (National Governing Body), we need to move in a direction that places much more emphasis on community outreach," Gardner continued. "Part of our job as athletes and members of USAV is to promote our sport and give back. A lot of these kids are fans of volleyball, but have no tangible exposure to it. By reaching into communities, especially those served by Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA, it is extremely rewarding. Seeing kids get excited about volleyball for the first time is unbelievable."
The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) will host its Community Appreciation Day Celebration honoring Olympic Day in Colorado Springs on Saturday, June 26. The jubilee will take place at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and nearby parks between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The event is in an effort to promote fitness and well-being in addition to Olympic ideals of fair play, perseverance, respect and sportsmanship.
"Olympic Day is a great opportunity for the USOC to work with our constituent groups – athletes, community partners, Multi-Sport Organizations, National Governing Bodies, and U.S. Olympic Training sites around the country," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmum said in an USOC release.
There will be nine different events, which will include an opportunity to play or learn the basics of volleyball at a court in Boulder Park. USA Volleyball staff members will teach and promote the sport of volleyball, as well as encourage members of the community to join together in appreciating and honoring the Olympics.
John Kessel, USA Volleyball director of membership development and disabled programs, will be leading the volunteering staff members in setting up the volleyball net and sharing the game with anyone interested.
"We hope to teach members of the community of Colorado Springs what USAV knows about the game – skills and tactics for both beach and indoor players of any age," Kessel said. "We hope to teach new players and for them to gain a love of the sport. For experienced players we want to inform them how to teach the game to new players and how to play the game a bit better themselves."
Men's team loses five-set match
Finland stunned the U.S. national team, 25-22, 14-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-11, in front of a partisan crowd of 3,500 on Friday at the Sears Centre Arena near Chicago.
Finland improves to 2-5 in Pool C while Team USA falls to 4-3, but remains in second place behind Russia (7-0). The U.S. and Finland play again on Saturday.
"Finland outplayed us," U.S. team captain Reid Priddy said. "I can't point to one specific phase that they beat us. We didn't pass as well as we can and we didn't take care of the ball."
Stanford grad Kevin Hansen had three points in the match, one kill and two blocks. At setter, he was credited with 28 running sets and no faults on 91 attempts.