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Larson Excited to Take Next Step in Coaching Journey at Nebraska

June 14, 2023

John Cook has been talking to Jordan Larson about getting into coaching for some time. A couple years ago, Larson reciprocated the interest, reaching out to Cook to inquire about what opportunities might be there for her at Nebraska down the road.

Following the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Larson continued her club playing career with volunteer assistant coaching stints at Texas, Midland University in Fremont and Elkhorn North High School along the way. Earlier this year, she reached out to Cook again, and after the NCAA Division I Council approved the addition of a third full-time assistant to volleyball staffs in January, those conversations grew more serious.

On Tuesday, Nebraska announced that Larson would be joining Cook’s staff in the fall. Larson said the timing was right to accept the position, especially with the flexibility Cook offered to continue her playing career even if it meant she wouldn’t be on campus for the start of the season.

“It’s new territory for me and I’m just excited to learn; obviously, great staff,” Larson told media during a Zoom call on Tuesday. “I was in the gym a little bit kind of towards the end of last season just getting some reps personally, just prepping for overseas, and so I kind of have an idea of how the staff is and things. So I’m just really excited to be in that role and see where I can learn and how I can help in any way.”

Nebraska wasn’t the only coaching opportunity that Larson had for the 2023 season, but it was the clear choice for multiple reasons.

“I had a couple other people that had reached out, but I think for me, obviously I have a ton of support in Nebraska as well — family, friends, all of those things,” Larson said. “So it was just kind of obvious for me — I’m not going to say obvious because I really had a lot of great options, but this gives me the most ability to kind of also be good for myself professionally when coaching but then also playing. I feel very lucky. And also, having Jolene [Emricson], our trainer. I’ve known Jolene since I was in college and she knows me, and I think there’s something to be said about that as well.”

Larson is currently recovering from a knee injection to deal with quad issues but is hoping to be ready to compete by the end of the Volleyball Nations League, which concludes in mid-July. Larson is also hoping to make the U.S. roster for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Poland in September. The plan is for her to join the Huskers after the conclusion of the tournament.

Though Cook and Larson are still working through the details of what her role will entail, working with the outside hitters will be included. She’s already begun watching film and offering feedback.

Larson acknowledged she’ll face a learning curve as a coach, but her long, globe-crossing playing career has given her plenty of experience t fall back on in her new role.

“I’ve been surrounded by a ton of great coaches,” Larson said. “I feel like I’ve taken a ton of knowledge of what they’ve shared with me and kind of how can I be authentic to who I am and share information as efficient as I can, but understanding that every athlete is different and I’m also different in how I want to be coached. So I think it’s just more or less getting to know the athlete and kind of what and how you can help them best. I just I find that so fascinating, like how how can you get the most out of them?

“One of the greatest coaches that I ever got to meet, Marv Dunphy, always said, ‘How do you make them feel bulletproof?’ And so it’s how can you get them to a point where they can go out there and play free and just ball out. So I’m excited to kind of really flex that muscle and continue to learn how to bring out the most in athletes.”

Larson has gotten a taste of coaching at multiple levels over the past year and a half, but as she nears the end of her playing career and is thinking about the next phase of her life, coaching at the highest level of college volleyball is what stood out among her options, in part as a way to offer her expertise to the next generation of volleyball players.

“I want to see kind of what the highest level is doing right now in the States, and I also think now with all these professional leagues that are coming up, how can I help them navigate that space as well?”  Larson said. “I know for me, I wish there was more information about what pro leagues look like and I feel like I can also help in that area. Like, hey, if they have questions about a certain league or what coach is going where, I can have those conversations and make it very real for them.”

Larson is hoping to make the roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics, and she’s planning to play again next spring. She’s considering her options, including some in the U.S. (such as the new professional team in Omaha), but isn’t anywhere close to making a decision.

However, come the winter, she’s all in on the Huskers and helping her alma mater make a run at another national championship.

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