Larson Returning As Husker Assistant

By Lincoln Arneal

Jordan Larson has one of the most impressive resumes of any Nebraska volleyball player. National Champion. All-American. Hall of Famer. 

Soon, she will add another title: assistant coach. 

Nebraska announced Tuesday that Larson will join the coaching staff as a full-time assistant this season. In January, the NCAA changed its rules to allow a third assistant coach, eliminating the volunteer coach position. 

During a Zoom call with local media Tuesday night, Larson said the timing of the opportunity and her desire to get into coaching lined up to create the possibility. She started talking to NU coach John Cook in January and the conversations began to build into a more structured position. 

While she had talked to other programs about other opportunities, joining the Nebraska staff was the one that made the most sense to her. 

“I have a ton of support in Nebraska as well – family, friends – so it was just kind of obvious for me,” Larson said. “I really had a lot of great options, but this gives me the most ability to kind of also be good for myself, professionally, coaching but then also playing. I feel very lucky.”

Cook has often joked about bringing Larson back to help with the Huskers and finally got her on board. She will join the two other assistant coaches, Jaylen Reyes, the defensive coordinator who also leads recruiting, and Kelly Hunter, another former Husker who works with the setters.

“Jordan and I have talked for years about coaching at Nebraska,” Cook said in a release. “She will bring a wealth of experience that she can share with our players.”

Last spring, Larson worked briefly as a volunteer assistant at Texas before leaving the program. She returned to her home state, began volunteering with Midland University in Fremont, and helped out with Elkhorn North High School during its run to a state runner-up finish. 

She also worked out with the Huskers a few times to help prepare her to play professionally with Vero Volley Milano in Italy, which finished as league runner-up last month. That stint helped her understand how the NU staff works together. 

“It’s new territory for me and I’m just excited to learn and (they have) obviously a great staff,” Larson said. “I’m just really excited to kind of be in that role and see where I can learn and how I can help in any way.”

Larson has already dived into the work on her own time, watching film of the current squad and offering a few tips to the pin hitters. She was impressed with how they played in Brazil and their eagerness to compete. 

“They love to get after it, which is a great sign,” the Hooper, Nebraska native said. “We don’t have any seniors, so that’s going to be not only great for this year but the years to come. I see learning happening. They want to get better, which is a great asset to any team.”

Even though her position starts on July 1 when the new NCAA rule kicks in, Larson won’t join the program until late September if everything goes according to plan. Until then, she will continue to watch video, study the metrics and Facetime with the staff and players. 

She is currently training in California as she prepares to play with the United States national team in the Volleyball Nations League. She said she had some quad tendon issues during the spring and is receiving treatment, including a knee injection. She’s begun ramping up in hopes of playing with the national team for the 2024 Olympic qualifiers in Poland in September. Larson also hopes to play for the U.S. at the Paris Games next year. 

If the U.S. qualifies, and Larson is chosen to play, she would want to play professionally next spring to help her prepare for the Olympics. Larson said she is still deciding which league she would play in, but she has several options, including the Pro Volleyball Federation team in Omaha, which starts play in February. 

Larson has an impressive playing career winning three Olympic medals, including the gold at the 2020 Tokyo Games, where she was named the best outside hitter and most valuable player. She also won a silver medal at the 2012 London Games and a bronze in Rio in 2016. She has had an extensive professional career in Puerto Rico, Russia, Turkey, China and Italy.

While her life may not slow down over the next year, she’s ready to attack the coaching world as she did as a player. Larson said she’s prepared for a new challenge. She talked about how much she has to learn about recruiting, the daily grind of coaching and building connections with 18- to 22-year-olds, and she is excited about the possibilities. 

Larson said she’s a different person than the last time she was with the Huskers. She’s been all over the world and matured over the previous 18 years since she was a freshman. Now, she’s ready to shape the next generation of Husker athletes. 

“I’ve come a long way since college and I’ve tried to make a lot of changes,” she said. “Learn and grow. Now to give back to a place that really has meant so much to me, it’s really come full circle.”

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