Volleyball fans watching the U.S. women’s team steamroll opponents in Brazil may have heard Jordan Larson affectionately referred to as “The Governor.”
No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the charismatic “Walking Dead” villain.
Larson hails from a small town in Nebraska with fewer than 1,000 people. But she made such an impact in high school and college (she attended the University of Nebraska) that she was very well known around the state.
So when Team USA has traveled the globe, Larson has routinely gotten stopped by a friendly Nebraska resident who recognized her from her days in the Cornhusker State. It didn’t matter if it was at an airport in the U.S. or someplace overseas in Europe or Asia.
It happened so often, the brother of U.S. outside hitter Foluke Akinradewo came up with the nickname “The Governor.”
USA coach Karch Kiraly – a well-recognized former volleyball player in his own right as a three-time gold medal winner – sees Larson as a role model to young women around the world.
“Jordan and the rest of her teammates, we have a really special group of women in this program who are intelligent and powerful and dedicated and hardworking and are great role models for just how to be a good woman,” Kiraly told NBC leading up to the Olympics. “She’s had an impact on lots of levels as a role model for girls all over the country, both on and off the court.”
The 29-year-old Larson is one of the leaders of a U.S. team looking to take home gold for the first time ever.
The Americans have lost to Brazil in the gold medal games in back-to-back Olympics, but they entered Rio as the No. 1 ranked team in the world and have since gone undefeated in preliminary play.
If she can make history for Team USA and become the face of a nation, maybe she’ll also get a promotion in nickname. “President Larson” has a nice ring to it.