Olympic Festival gives Schauer and Foulke insight on top competition


Growing up is a hassle

You have more responsibilities, more problems, more decisions and the dreams of some day being among the elite at some sport or other are replaced with cold, harsh reality.

For two NIU volleyball players, reality will have to wait. Kori Schauer and Amy Foulke spent two weeks of their summer being showered with chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” at the 1993 United States Olympic Festival in San Antonio, TX.

The Olympic Festival is a ten day event that takes place every non-olympic year. The participants are chosen after a series of tryouts in their respective sports. From there, the best talent from across the country in all the sports that are in the Olympics play against each other.

The festival also not only showcases up and coming U.S. talent, but lets the Olympic Committee see what kind of possibilities they have for future Olympic Games.

In the case of volleyball, four sites from around the country were chosen to host the tryouts for the final show in San Antonio. USC, Texas at Austin, North Carolina and good old NIU received the honor. Four coaches then traveled from site to site and evaluated the talent until they whittled 160 hopefuls down to 48 very deserving participants.

The opportunity was a not only a chance to play against the best, but both Kori and Amy agreed that the experience helped them in improving their own game.

“I think I learned a lot about myself and other players around the country,” Kori explained. “(I learned) how people play differently and about the different programs and what they produce.”

“It was an excellent experience,” Amy added. “The competition was incredible and it seemed like it really was the Olympics.”

If you’ve ever watched the opening ceremonies on TV, and especially if you were lucky enough to be in attendance when the games were held in L.A, you know the expense and trouble that had to be dealt with just to organize such an event.

The Olympic Festival is no exception. The committee spared no expense in putting on a tremendous show based on patriotism and emotion.

“The whole Olympic atmosphere was very impressive,” Amy said. “The Opening Ceremonies were huge. It was just incredible.”

“The experience was incredible. The Opening Ceremonies alone made it worthwhile to go,” said Kori. “I can’t describe how it feels to walk out there with 65,000 people cheering for you.”

“Of the 80 players that tried out for the team here (at the NIU site) only eight made the Olympic Festival squad,” said head coach Pete Waite. “Not many schools have any, much less two. We’re really proud of them.

“Both the tryouts and the festival itself are great experiences for them to raise their level of play up higher than it has ever been. They came back much more knowledgeable and really excited to be back with our group going into their senior year.”

Maybe we’ll see them in Atlanta. Cold, harsh reality can wait a little longer.