Courtesy of Midland Athletics
FREMONT, Neb. – As a national champion, a three-time All-American, and a three-time Olympian, Jordan Larson boasts a résumé that ranks her among the greatest players in the history of volleyball in the United States.
The Hooper, Nebraska native is now hoping to lend some of that same knowledge and experience to the Midland University volleyball program this fall. Larson is joining Coach Paul Giesselmann’s staff as a volunteer assistant coach as the Warriors look to build on their No. 1 national ranking.
“I’m excited to be back in the area,” Larson said. “I have a lot to learn in coaching, but I hope to have a similar mindset to what I have as a player. There are things I need to learn, but I’m excited to get better every day and see where it goes.”
Larson got a brief taste of coaching by serving as a volunteer coach for the University of Texas this summer. When she returned to the metro area, Larson began giving lessons at Club Legacy in Elkhorn, which was co-founded by Midland assistant coach Steve Bymers. “I’ve known Paul since he was an assistant coach at Creighton and we’ve stayed in contact over the years,” Larson said. “He asked if I would be interested in coming up to help coach.”
Giesselmann said it was an easy decision to have someone with Larson’s background and knowledge of the sport be a part of the program. “Jordan lends instant credibility whenever she walks into practice,” he said. “She’s had an opportunity to be coached by the best coaches in the world and she will bring so many different perspectives that our players can take advantage of. I’ve been coaching for 35 years and one thing you should always be doing as a coach is looking for ways to get better. This is an opportunity for our players to get better, and for me to learn more as a coach.”
Larson parlayed an outstanding high school career at Logan View into a memorable four-year run at the University of Nebraska. The Huskers accumulated a 127-8 record in those four seasons, earning one national championship (2006) and two other appearances in the Final Four. She was a three-time All-American and her No. 10 jersey has been retired by the program. She was inducted into the UNL Hall of Fame in 2020.
Following her college career, Larson was a part of three United States Olympic teams in 2012, 2016, and 2020. She helped the U.S. to a gold medal performance in the most recent Olympics while earning silver and bronze medals in the other two.
“We always tell our players to dream big, no matter what you want to do in life, and don’t be afraid to chase that dream,” Giesselmann said. “That’s what Jordan has done. She knew as a young girl what she wanted to do and she’s worked hard to be the best at it.”
He recognized the immediate impact Larson made on his squad when she showed up for her first practice on September 15. “The timing really couldn’t have been any better because we were coming off a tough loss the night before (a five-set loss to Hastings) and having her there that night instantly changed the mindset of our players,” Giesselmann said. “We didn’t tell the team ahead of time, and when she walked into the gym with us, it was instantly quiet. You could see the “wow” factor she brings.”
Giesselmann himself is one of the most decorated coaches in Nebraska volleyball history and has helped build a consistent winning program in his 13 seasons at the Midland helm. He recognizes that part of being a great coach is the willingness to let others have a voice in the room. “One of the first things Jordan and I talked about was that we have similar philosophies in how we approach the game,” he said. “When she’s in the gym, it’s all business, and she expects the same from the players she’s working with. There are players in our program who have heard the same things from me for multiple years. Now they have a fresh voice, and not just any voice, but the voice of the best outside hitter the United States has ever produced, to lend instant credibility. When she talks, everybody listens.”
Larson’s schedule will allow her to attend at least one practice per week, and Giesselmann said he plans to maximize the opportunities her presence in the gym will bring. “She will bring her expertise as an outside hitter to those players, but she’s also one of the best ball-control outside hitters in the world, so she will be able to work on passing and defense as well,” he said. “We are going to get as much out of her as we can.”
Larson is appreciative of the opportunity and looking forward to being part of the No. 1 NAIA program in the nation. “Paul and his staff do a great job and Midland is a fantastic program,” she said. “When you look at the state of Nebraska, it’s unreal all the great volleyball programs we have. It’s a reflection on the standards we’ve set and how everyone involved wants their programs to be successful. It’s encouraging and fun to be a part of.”
“I come from a small town, and I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of the world, and I want to encourage these girls to do the same because there is a lot to learn out there. It’s great to be back and I’m happy to be a part of it all, I think the team is excited as well. I hope I can help. That’s my goal.”