Throughout the 2016 Olympic Games, we will be asking our players from past Olympic volleyball teams to give their unique insight on the Olympic experience and their thoughts on the volleyball in Rio.

“What’s your favorite memory about the Opening Ceremony?” 

Tayyiba Haneef-Park
Olympic silver medalist, women’s indoor, 2008, 2012

My favorite memory is the moment waiting in tunnel just before you walk out into the stadium.

This photo may not look like much, but for some it is the moment that the blood, sweat and tears become reality and the Olympic dream begins. This is the tunnel to the biggest stage in the world… the Opening Ceremony. Words can’t truly capture the anticipation, the excitement, the nervousness, the empowerment, the pure emotion that takes control of your body as a quiet U-S-A tunnel chant among team members turns into a full on rage of tens of thousands screaming your country’s  name as you parade around a track. Each Olympics were different but this moment was always the same. The moment you knew something great was going to happen. Can’t wait to see Team USA march through those tunnels in a matter of hours. Some will cry, some will laugh, all will wear the red white and blue with pride. Welcome to the family, Team USA. Once an Olympian, always an Olympian!

Misty May-Treanor
Olympic gold medalist, beach, 2004, 2008, 2012

My favorite part of Opening Ceremony is the energy you feel marching in behind your flag and hearings the crowd roar. It signifies “It’s Time!” I also love seeing the many different faces that represent each country and the various authentic open ceremony outfits that represent where they come from.

Eric Fonoimoana
Olympic gold medalist, beach, 2000

Although we waited a long time to be introduced in 2000, my favorite memory of the Opening Ceremony was when USA walked on the track and the roar of 110,000 fans were cheering louder & louder than any other country. Each country was introduced in alphabetical order with the host country, Australia, going last. They knew what the Americans athletes meant to the Olympic Games and they were excited to see them compete.

Bob Ctvrtlik
Olympic gold medalist, indoor, 1984, 1988

“It has to be waiting in the tunnel in 1992 in Barcelona next to Steve Timmons when the side door opened and Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and the entire Dream Team entered right in front of us to walk into the stadium. It seems that Steve and Magic had a good friendship and thought it would be fun to walk in together. For the USA Men’s Volleyball Team, it was great when all of the fans exploded as we entered, who cares if it MIGHT have been for those other guys!

Todd Rogers
Olympic gold medalist, beach, 2008

People always talk about the “Olympic Spirit” and I couldn’t speak to it until I experienced it first hand in Beijing and then in London at the Opening Ceremony. All countries, even those at war with one another, uniting together in a celebration of sports and putting aside their respective issues. It was a very special feeling that I will never forget.

Lloy Ball
Olympic gold medalist, men’s indoor, 2008

Of my four Olympics, I only marched the Opening Ceremony in Atlanta and Athens. I had a bad knee in Sydney and I was just old in Beijing. 1996 was the best opening. It was in the U.S.!!! We walked with the Dream Team!! We played cards with Lisa Leslie and the women’s hoops team while we waited. Muhammad Ali was there!!! But the best thing about it was the deafening roar & explosion of camera flashes when Team USA walked in. It was 110,000 people cheering just for me!!! (so it felt). I still get goose bumps talking about it.

Kim Oden
Olympic bronze medalist, women’s indoor, 1992

My favorite thing about the Opening Ceremony in the 1988 (Seoul) and 1992 (Barcelona) Olympics was marching in with the entire U.S.A. delegation. Representing our country in front of the thousands in the stands (including my family in 1992) and those watching on television, was truly a dream come true. We were all wearing the same outfit, which was specially designed for us. It was one of those times when I really felt the unity of the United States–and it was wonderful. Additionally, marching in with the volleyball team, including my sister, Elaina (a fellow ’92 Olympian), was a total blessing. Once we got onto the field, it was awesome to take pictures with people from other countries who were dressed in their national, specially designed outfit. The memory of participating in the Opening Ceremony (both times) is one that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

I know the current team will have an amazing experience at Rio’s opening ceremony. I am cheering for the USA women’s and men’s indoor and beach volleyball teams. Go U.S.A.!

Holly McPeak
Olympic bronze medalist, beach, 2004

I’m excited to watch all the competition in Rio. The Opening Ceremony is a surreal experience and it’s magical to walk into the stadium representing your country!

Ryan Millar
Olympic gold medalist, men’s indoor, 2008

I remember walking into the Olympic Stadium during my first Olympic Games in Sydney. The energy was literally physical. Even walking down the tunnel into the stadium, I could feel the excitement, passion and anticipation everyone had. That is a moment I will never forget.

Kent Steffes
Olympic gold medalist, beach, 1996

Walking into the stadium and seeing all the cheering people.

Nicole Davis
Olympic silver medalist, women’s indoor, 2008, 2012

My favorite Olympic memory is definitely the Opening Ceremony. It’s so magical, and it’s such a confirmation that what you do is bigger than you, and all the pain and sacrifice makes sense!

Scott Fortune
Olympic gold medalist, men’s indoor, 1988

After a long wait and anticipation, finally walking into the Barcelona stadium alongside the Dream Team and with the other great USA athletes. Seemed like slow motion, but watching the torch flame being shot up in the air by an archer to light the Olympic Cauldron and at that moment the Games were on.