HOOPER - Given the choice of speaking in front of a few hundred people or playing volleyball in front of 17,000 people, Jordan Larson would always choose the latter.
The volleyball court is where Larson shines.
Since stepping onto Logan View High School's court as a freshman, people have taken notice of Larson's tremendous skills. Her talent was showcased as a four-year starter for the Nebraska volleyball team, and her name is becoming known internationally as a member of the U.S. women's national volleyball team.
Family, friends and community members gathered Thursday night at Logan View High School to honor the Hooper native for her monumental accomplishments.
Larson's jersey was retired in a ceremony prior to the Raiders' volleyball match with Douglas County West. A display case in the high school's lobby now features Larson's Logan View, Nebraska and USA volleyball jerseys as well as photos from her career.
Prior to the ceremony, Larson said she was nervous and excited to be back at her alma mater.
"You never think something like this would happen. It's very humbling and I feel very honored," she said. "It doesn't feel real.
"I just remember going to high school and being like a normal student, playing volleyball and dreaming big dreams. Now that some of those have come into reality, it seems surreal in a sense."
A familiar voice greeted Larson to Logan View's gym.
Steve Johnsen, public address announcer for the Nebraska volleyball team and director of the Nebraska Coaches Association, introduced Larson just as he did for every one of Larson's games at the NU Coliseum.
Johnsen and his wife, Vicky, are entering their 25th season of announcing Nebraska volleyball matches.
"This was an opportunity for my wife and I to come up and recognize a young lady that has meant so much not just to Hooper and the Logan View district, but to the entire state of Nebraska," Johnsen said.
Nebraska's 2008 team which featured Larson, Amanda Gates and Rachel Schwartz as senior leaders was a special squad, Johnsen said. Nebraska defeated Washington in a five-set thriller on the Huskies' home court that season, with the final point being a service ace by Larson.
"I can honestly say I've never seen a team that came together as well as that team did her senior year," Johnsen said. "It has been such an honor for us to know Jordan and to watch her play."
Having witnessed hundreds of players pass through Nebraska, Johnsen said how Larson carried herself on the court was just as impressive as her skills.
"The community of Logan View School has produced one of the kindest, most selfless young ladies that we have ever been around," he said.
Angie Svec, one of Larson's volleyball coaches at Logan View, echoed that view.
"With all of the accolades and accomplishments she received as a premier high school athlete," Svec said, "the humility in which she received these should not go unnoticed. ... I feel it's of great importance to recognize those people in her life who provided this incredible foundation.
"Her father, Kevin Larson, her stepfather, Pat Clough, and of course Jordan's extraordinary mother, Kae, whose light is shining brighter than ever right now."
Larson's mother Kae died in September 2009 after a courageous battle with breast cancer. All of the money raised from the purchase of posters and books Larson autographed followed the ceremony will be given to the Susan G. Comen for the Cure in Kae's honor.
"While it's been a wonderful privilege to say I coached you, it's been far more rewarding watching you develop into an empowered young woman," Svec told Larson. "Your impact on all of the young athletes who look to you today with stars in their eyes is really a life lesson to everyone that if you're going to dream, dream big."
Thursday capped a whirl-wind week for Larson which featured the U.S. women's national team capturing the gold medal at the 18th FIVB World Grand Prix final round in Ningbo, China. Larson scored a team-high 15 points to lead the team to a 26-24, 25-20, 25-23 win over Japan on Sunday.
She was still getting used to the 13-hour time difference after flying back to the United States on Monday and then to Nebraska on Tuesday.
Larson's time off will be short, though, as she is set to fly back to California on Sunday to resume training with the U.S. national team on Monday.
"It's only a week off but sometimes you lose a lot not touching a ball for even a couple of days," she said.
Larson is determined to keep working hard in order to accomplish one her childhood dreams of playing in the Olympics.
"Four years go by pretty fast," Larson said. "Every tournament is a chance to get on the roster and a chance to be able to play. It's a very nerve-wracking thing that you don't know if you're going to get to be a part of (the Olympic team)."