McClinton to Represent Jayhawks, USA in China
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sara McClinton quickly came to mind when the Kansas volleyball staff learned that Bring It Promotions was searching for skilled outside hitters.
The BIP/USA Development Program publicized its putting together a team to travel and play in the China-USA Challenge Invitational Tournament this summer when KU assistant coach Todd Chamberlain contacted the office in regards to KU’s All-Big 12 First Team junior-to-be.
“Coach Todd saw that they were looking for a strong outside hitter to come play, so he reached out to them,” McClinton said. “They looked up my bio and saw my stats and thought that I would definitely fit the profile.”
Not surprising. Although one of the youngest members on the USA Developmental team, McClinton is clearly on pace with her surrounding talent. A year ago, the Omaha, Neb., native finished the season ranked fifth in the Big 12 in kills per set (3.29) and seventh in points per set (3.50). She became just the fourth player in Kansas history to surpass 600 kills in only two seasons.
Her impressive resume landed her a spot on one of only two American teams that will participate in two weeks of overseas volleyball. The first – McClinton’s team – is comprised of collegiate or former collegiate volleyball players from across the country. McClinton explained that the second team is made up of the best players from the Pac-12 Conference.
Prior to practice day on the campus of Loyola Marymount in California last Friday, McClinton knew of setter Alison Landwehr, who just wrapped up her All-America career at Iowa State, and had yet to meet any of her other teammates.
“It’s pretty cool that I will be one of the youngest players on the team,” McClinton said. “And even though it’s not with USA Volleyball, it’s still representing the United States so I think that’s really cool. It will also help me get to that next level of wanting to get to All-America status and maybe play after college. So hopefully this will boost me on up – play with the best players and that will make you better.”
Led by head coach Jeff Nelson (New Mexico coach), McClinton’s squad will play six different pro teams in Beijing and Shanghai. BIP has also included several practice sessions and sightseeing excursions during their stay.
Despite it being her first trip out of the country, McClinton sounds relaxed and excited for the opportunity. She laughed when asked about being nervous, saying just, “I don’t know any Chinese or anyone on the team – so here goes nothing!”
While in the process of meeting her teammates and possibly a few Chinese phrases, McClinton has a specified list of goals and objectives to accomplish. She was thrilled that the KU coaches were all for the idea of her going to play overseas. With aspirations of playing beyond her college career, McClinton knows that it’s trips like this that will provide exposure that is vital in making that possible.
McClinton shared the fact that the coaching staff wants her to transition into being an upperclassman and take one of the main roles heading into the 2013 season. Not only will her leadership role increase, her time on the court may also see a substantial jump and this trip will be helpful in that aspect, as well.
“American volleyball is a lot different than international volleyball,” McClinton explained. “Internationally, they aren’t allowed as many subs so their outsides play all the way around. The coaches want me to start thinking about that, since they’ve thought about using me a back-row option next year.”
With goals, objectives and potential benefits already established, McClinton can focus on the reality of actually going overseas. She admitted that not knowing the language is slightly intimidating as she never pictured herself going to China to play volleyball. She figured out her first passport experience and was grateful to hear no foreign immunizations were needed.
Friends, teammates and staff that have been in similar shoes heeded one last piece of advice before she headed out.
“I’m prepared for it to be a culture shock,” McClinton laughed. “I’ll be one of the tallest people in the country. I’ve been warned from a few people that I might get asked to take pictures because some haven’t seen women this tall.”
June 14 Delegation Arrives to SNA/LAX
June 15 Morning & Afternoon Practice/Depart Together from LAX for Shanghai
June 17 Arrive in Shanghai, Welcome Banquet and News Conference
June 18 Practice and Sightseeing
June 19 Practice, Opening Ceremonies and Match #1
June 20 Sightseeing and Match #2
June 21 Match #3 and Award Presentations for Tianjin Tournament
June 22 Travel to Beijing, Sightseeing, Welcome Banquet
June 23 Practice and Match #4
June 24 Sightseeing and Match #5
June 25 Match #6, Awards Presentation, Closing Ceremonies and Banquet
June 26 Full Day of Sightseeing and Shopping in Beijing
June 27 Depart from Beijing, China; Arrive to USA Same Day