Berg selected to U.S. Olympic Team

Road to Athens

Kent Erdahl

Lindsey Berg fought sleeplessness Thursday night, but despite arriving in Bangkok, Thailand just a week before, said she was not experiencing jet lag.

Berg, a setter on Minnesota’s volleyball team from 1998 to 2001, was anxious for her meeting with Team USA coaches Friday, who told her that she would be a member of the Olympic team.

But Berg admitted that she probably didn’t have too much to worry about. She was already representing the United States at the World Grand Prix in Asia.

“For the past few months I felt confident (in making the team) as long as I continued to play how I was playing,” Berg said in an e-mail from Hong Kong. “It’s not like me at all (to lose sleep), but I guess inside something was telling me how much this meant to me.”

If Berg didn’t realize what a spot on the Olympic team meant to her, Minnesota’s volleyball program did. The Gophers, fresh off their first Final Four appearance ever this season, have their first Olympian.

“To be able to tell someone that I’ve played with an Olympian is pretty cool,” said Minnesota senior Erin Martin, who played with Berg as a freshman. “I think it kind of tells the volleyball world that we are an elite team and that we are able to produce players like Lindsey.”

Berg recorded 5,913 career assists and earned three All-Region and All-Big Ten Honors

in her time with the Gophers. But Minnesota coach Mike Hebert said Berg’s accomplishments don’t fully describe her skills.

“Lindsey is probably one of the most complete players to play here at Minnesota,” Hebert said. “She is one of the most competitive players I’ve ever coached.”

Although she finished her career at Minnesota nearly three years ago, Berg did not shy away from crediting her Gopher teammates and coaches for her growth as a player.

“I think at the ‘U’ is where I first began to show people in the volleyball world that I could play,” Berg said. “I got the opportunity to build and lead a team. Not many players get that opportunity.”

Berg is one of just 12 players selected for Team USA, which is currently ranked second in the world.

She joins some impressive company.

Only four of Berg’s teammates are fellow first-timers. The remaining seven have a combined 17 Olympic appearances, including USA Volleyball’s first four-time Olympian, Tara Cross-Battle.

“I am getting the opportunity to play with volleyball greats, and others with the potential to be the greatest,” Berg said.

If Team USA lives up to its potential in Athens, it may be thanks to one of the most grueling schedules leading up to the games.

Berg and her teammates, who begin the second round of their games in Hong Kong on Friday, will travel to Germany and Italy for competition before the opening ceremonies in Athens on August 13.

Despite, or perhaps because of her grueling schedule, Berg looks forward to her time in Athens, while questions about security continue to surround the Olympic host city.

“All of my family and friends ask me (about security) and I am really not nervous,” Berg said. “I don’t know if it is because we travel so much, or if I am just confident in the security that they have prepared.”

For now, whether she’s flying around the world or setting to some of the world’s highest-flying hitters, Berg won’t complain.

“There are just so many things that make this experience irreplaceable,” Berg said. “This is the best thing that could happen in a volleyball player’s life, and it makes me smile every time I think about it.”