For Courtney Thomas, the ultimate goal is to represent the United States in the Olympics.
The former DeKalb volleyball player and current setter at the University of Wisconsin will take one step towards that goal beginning next week.
After trying out back in February, Thomas was selected to compete with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Senior A2 Program in Dallas from June 25 - July 4. At the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thomas was one of 240 players looking for a spot, but was one of only 47 players selected.
"As of right now it's just a first stepping stone," Thomas said. "An experience to play with high-level players."
Thomas, one of three Badgers to earn a spot in the program, will get the chance to train and compete with some of the best players in the country. The members of the program will be divided up into four equal teams, and compete in a pool play format against each other. One of the other 48 players is former Northern Illinois outside hitter Lauren Wicinski, who's now at Michigan State.
The program is open to players with at least one year of college eligibility remaining. Thomas, who averaged 10.55 assists per set as a sophomore for the Badgers in 2012, plans on trying out again next year.
She hopes it will be a nice stepping stone for a career after college, where she hopes to make Team USA or play overseas. The Olympics is something Thomas said she's been thinking about for a while. The next summer games will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
"I really think I need to do really well these next two years, keep working on my game, just make it better," said Thomas, the Daily Chronicle Volleyball Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010. "There's definitely competition for the spot that I play. I think just working on my game day by day is going to help me a lot."
In February, Thomas spent three days trying out. She didn't find out she had made the team until roughly two months later, but had a good feeling after she was put into a top group, split by skill level, on the final day.
She hopes this experience with USA Volleyball is the first of many.
"As of right now it gives me a little insight to the system, obviously my goal is to play for USA but I still have a lot of work to do," Thomas said. "This kind of gets me in the system, gets my name out there."