Sunday afternoon was probably not the best time if you wanted to peacefully buy a new set of golf clubs at Scheels.
Jordan Larson was at the sporting goods store in Lincoln, and Husker fans are awfully fond of her.
The former Nebraska volleyball player is back in town after helping the United States women reach the gold-match match at the Summer Olympics. Brazil beat the United States in the final, giving Larson a silver medal in her first Olympic appearance.
On Sunday, the first person was waiting in line at 6:30 a.m. to get a ticket that assured them a spot later in the autograph line. When the tickets were handed out four hours later, about 150 people had joined the line.
At 1 p.m., when Larson was introduced to warm applause and began signing autographs, the line snaked 20 yards outside the store. The line continued inside the store and wove past racks of T-shirts that supported Larson making the Olympic team, then up the stairs to the second floor, past the golf equipment and finally to a stage where Larson sat.
The majority of the crowd was women and young girls, but there were also three teenage boys that brought Larson flowers.
Among the items Larson signed were photos and a volleyball shoe. She encouraged guests to come behind the table and take a photo with her as she held up her silver medal.
“Hi, how are you?,” Larson asked a young girl.
Anyone that showed up before the two-hour event ended was able to get an autograph, with about 475 people making it through the line.
Before she started signing, Larson answered questions from reporters about the Olympics and her future.
How do you describe the Olympic experience?
“Everybody asks me that, and I still haven’t come up with an answer. Honestly, it’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time, and it was surreal being there. I was tying to not get so overwhelmed that I lost track of the purpose of being there.”
You haven’t been able to spend much time in Nebraska since graduation. How does it feel to be back?
“Oh, my, it’s great. Honestly, this is the longest I’ve had to be home. Being from Nebraska, I just feel so welcome here. It’s been a great time so far and I can’t wait to spend a lot of time with family and friends and just catch up on a lot of stuff I’ve missed the last four years.”
Several groups and stores have been selling T-shirts to support you in the Olympics. Where will some of the proceeds go?
“I actually lost my mother about three years ago. Cancer has a really big impact on my life -- she lost her battle with cancer -- so I wanted to give back to that, and also (the people that) come out and support me, as well. … I’m still not sure where we’re going to donate it to yet, but I want to find a good family that it could help out and do something good.”
You also had large crowds at two events in Omaha on Saturday. What is it like to have all these young people look up to you?
“I stay pretty grounded, thanks to my husband. I was in that position when I was little girl, and just remember what it felt like to have somebody recognize me and take a moment out of their day to say hello, the impact that has. Even when I am getting overwhelmed, just to take a moment and take it all in, and know this is once in a lifetime and I’m honored to be in this position that I’m in.”
What are some of the interactions you’ve had with fans?
“Some people touched (the medal) and were able to hold it last night, and were like ‘Oh, my gosh, it really is heavy.’ It starts wearing on your neck a little bit; it gets pretty heavy. It’s a pretty cool thing. Not a lot of people get the chance to even see one, so I think it’s cool for everybody to be able to see it, and touch it if they want.”
What were the Opening Ceremonies like at the Olympics?
“I think the actual Opening Ceremonies started at 7 p.m., but we don’t get to see the Opening Ceremonies itself. We met outside the dorms about 9:30 and it was just a bunch of team pictures and going around meeting other athletes. I got a picture with Jordan Burroughs as well, just a couple people from Nebraska. We got close to some of the basketball guys. It was a lot of fun. Then walking into the stadium was just surreal, and trying to get on camera to say hi to family. It was a lot of fun and something I’ll hold onto forever. I have videos of walking in. Actually, my phone died as we were walking in the stadium. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s perfect timing.’ Most important moment of my life and my phone dies.”
You have played a lot of international volleyball during your career. Did the Olympics feel different?
“Our coach kept telling us the Olympics is the same as always, it’s just different. Just trying to know that we’ve played these teams for four years and it’s nothing different. The World Cup was also a very large tournament. It’s really not any different than that, but it’s different because you are playing for this medal. ... Now it’s time for me to reflect, and say, ‘I was there and remember this and this,’ and take it all in.”
Have you played any volleyball since the gold-medal match?
“I have not, no. I’m going to get back in the gym here pretty soon, just because I leave for my professional team on Oct. 2. I can’t delay too long. I’m going back to Russia for another season. This is the last year on my contract, so as far as the next season, I’m not sure where I want to go.”