Haley Eckerman was a young rarely had African American role models or teammates; it worried her; she often played alone on Iowa high school volleyball courts.
Eckerman, loving volleyball so much, went on to All-American honors at Texas and a professional career in the sport. She was achieving buy. She wanted to show young black girls that volleyball offered pathways to success and every other sport.
Because she saw her classmates at Waterloo East High, one of Iowa’s most diverse schools, select other sports.
She said African American girls that come from Iowa programs were often a minority on the volleyball court.
“We were always the one black player on our team,”
Haley found a way to promote her philosophy grandly last month at the USA Volleyball Open National Championships. She put together an all-star team comprised of African American women and won the championship.
She broke a world record, being that It was the first time that a team of all black women won the title in the 89 times it’s been contested.
One of the problems she faced finding players with filling every position on the court.
Eckerman(6-foot-3) would play outside hitter. Brown(6-4) could take a middle hitter position. Former Texas teammates took over two more spots. Harris, a talented setter who recently graduated from Iowa State, was brought in to join them. But the problem was Locating a libero — a defensive specialist. If you ay volleyball, you will know how hard it is to get a libero. Chloe Collins, who played at Texas, was recruited. They didn’t have many players, but the team was gradually taking shape, and they had one mind.
“We kind of went down the list, getting the players we needed,” Eckerman said.
The tournament would feature many of the country’s best players.
“We just wanted to play,” Eckerman said.
After filling the roster, Team Dream was ready to roll in, a team of talented black volleyball players was put together; there was a little time to prepare for the country’s national championship, which holds in late May.
The athletes had just one practice session before they had to compete in the tournament. Even Eckerman wasn’t sure what would happen.
“We knew we could hit,” Eckerman said. “The biggest things were passing and defense.”
It turned out, Team Dream, the all-black team, was dominant. Team Dream went 7-0 in the tournament and the title. Screams erupted when the team won the championship on May 30.
It was a watershed moment for volleyball and African American sports history.