Logan Tom made her Olympic debut as a 19-year-old at the 2000 Sydney Games, and was the team's leading scorer at the 2004 Olympics. But Tom grew so frustrated with the national team that she left after Athens. After a stint on the beach and professional indoor volleyball overseas, Tom inquired about coming back in 2007. She was welcomed with open arms and fit right back into her role as one of the most dynamic scorers in the world.
After Athens, you left the U.S. team but continued playing professionally overseas and on the beach. How did you go about coming back?
I contacted them first to see if they needed help. I knew World Cup was coming up. They have young girls coming up that can bang balls but I thought they would probably need help with ball control, which is probably what I do best being outside hitter. So I came back to see if they needed any help with anything, and just came back completely open to whatever they needed. Whether they wanted me back I had no idea. But they were very nice about it and said, "Yeah, come back and start training and see what you can do."
Was it an easy transition back onto the team?
Oh yeah, it was fine. Obviously there are different players, so it's going to be new learning the players and learning to play with them, especially passing and stuff like that. But it was fine. The girls made it easy for me.
Did your time on the beach help or hurt your indoor game?
It's give and take, a little bit of both. For me probably the hardest thing coming back was that my arm swing was different. They stopped me from full swinging on the beach so I got in the habit of half swinging, which here you can't do. (Some of the differences indoor are) having six players on the court, being a faster surface, and players are used to digging hard-driven balls. On the beach that was probably the easiest thing for me to do was digging hard-driven balls because I'm used to having balls come at me all the time.
Do you think you might go back to playing on the beach?
Possibly, yeah. It depends on how things kind of go, how my indoor career is going, or if I want time off, which I probably won't because I get stir crazy. It's ridiculous. I drive myself insane. But I enjoyed it, I like the beach. I guess I'll probably, if I go back to the beach, want to keep up something more light for me, just from a professional point of view if I'm still playing indoor. Just because you book eight months out of the year where volleyball is my job; I don't want 12 months to be like that.
You played against Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh a few times on the beach. What's it like playing against the best beach volleyball team in the world?
They don't make mistakes. It's frustrating playing against them. You know they're good, both technically-wise and they've been playing together for a long time, so they just don't give you any leeway. You have to be on top of you game.
How many different partners did you have in your stint at beach volleyball?
Is it hard to get the chemistry down with so many partners?
Yeah, especially on the beach it's different because there's only two players out there, so you definitely feel your personality and obviously your partner's personality a lot more than you would indoor, where there's six players on the court. So if your personalities don't mesh, if you're a frickin' bitch on the court and you have this timid little kitten over here, you're going to scare her half to death. And then if you have two really aggressive people they can butt heads and fight with each other.
Do individual personalities not come into play as much indoor with more players?
I think they can be overlooked a lot of the times, be put on the back burner for a little bit, I would say. But I just think there's more of an influence when there's only two players on the court.
Back to the U.S. indoor team, you guys won bronze at the 2007 World Cup, but two of the top teams, Russia and China, were not there. Do you feel you're a medal contender going into Beijing?
I think for sure we're a medal contender. And I think if you ask anyone they would say that, even opponents. I definitely think the last quad (quadrennium) was up and down, but I think there's definitely potential. We've beat all the good teams at least, it's just a matter of consistency.
Early in your national team days, you were given the nickname of "Doogie" after the TV child prodigy. Do you still hear that name?
Yeah, it never leaves. It's the older players, because I was 15, 16 when I first made the national team. So even if it's not even volleyball they'll call me Doogie, or they'll write Doogie on emails. It's cute, it's endearing. There's some players I don't think I've heard say my actual name.
-- Compiled by Jon Ackerman, NBCOlympics.com
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