It started many years before but came to fruition with this...
A man she had known told the 7th grader she was thinking pipe dreams if she thought she'd ever make it to the Olympics.
She proved him wrong...three times. It's what she does.
And on the journey to her fourth, she died. She told the campers this weekend, "That was the Stacy Sykora that died." The two camps looked puzzled when she said it, but after her 3 hours of court time had come to an end, she told them her story.
She told them about the American Dream: a small town girl makes it big. How hard work and persistence and extra effort can make up for where you were born or how much money you have.
She told them how she died and some parents wiped their eyes, some campers too. And she told them when she died. That she died when she was at her zenith, the best libero in the world, USA Volleyball's Player of the Year, one of the highest paid professionals in the world. She was headed to a fourth Olympic games in London. But it came crashing down on her, literally.
The day before the February clinics, on Super Bowl Sunday, for over an hour, Stacy Sykora poured out her life. She talked about her Olympic coaches, her experiences, her philosophies and yes, her death.
She is open and shares with everyone. She is high energy and is a people magnet on overdrive. You can't help but smile as she talks and coaches. She is USA Volleyball, she is Burleson, Texas, she is America all wrapped up in one dark, thick braid that bounces off her back as she moves and coaches and teaches, her trademark since she started in the pre libero era.
She and the libero position became synonymous because they grew up together. She learned from Japanese masters of defense and serve receive and after a pinnacled career, she was told she had to change again to stay with the USA team.
And she did. Because this is what Stacy does. Things that aren't probable. Things that aren't supposed to happen. Curve balls, high and tight. She handles them, gets through them. Survives them. She exhorts often, "Everything happens for a reason."
She painted a picture in 7th grade, tears running down her cheek, because a man said she was living in a dream world.
Stacy is. Now well into her second.