Four-time Olympian Danielle Scott-Arruda took off the entire 2010 season to give birth to her first child, Julianne.
Last month, the 39-year-old confirmed she was back. Scott-Arruda returned to action at the FIVB World Cup in Tokyo, where she helped Team USA finish as silver medalists behind champion Italy. In the process, the United States also earned a berth into the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Once again, Scott-Arruda hopes to be there.
And should she made the U.S. squad, Scott-Arruda would become the first U.S. volleyball player to play in five consecutive Games and would tie a world all-time record set by Brazilian player Helia Rogerio de Souza and Russia’s Yevgeniya Artamonova-Estes.
“Making the fifth Olympics would be amazing, but my focus is to be a part of this team and help anyway I can,” said Scott-Arruda, who has been a familiar face on the U.S. national team since 1994. “Making a fifth Olympics is kind of just a result of my efforts to make USA as good as it can be.”
After the World Cup, during which Team USA beat Brazil, the Americans are looking good. The squad is ranked No. 1 in the world and likely will enter the 2012 Games as one of the top contenders for the gold medal. Brazil, Cuba, Russia and China are also expected to be in the medal mix.
“This team is good,” U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “And there are a lot of players that contribute to that. Danielle is certainly one … she is a wonderful volleyball player. But her story is even more remarkable because of her drive and commitment to getting back.”
Regarded as one of the best middle blockers in the world, Scott-Arruda never had any doubt that she would come back after Julianne was born. She started training again as soon as her doctor released her to do so—around four weeks after delivery.
“I think having her (Julianne) and wanting her to know that I was able to come back to volleyball and play at a high level has been a motivation for me,” she said.
The Louisiana native, who was listed by Volleyball Magazine as one of the Top 35 U.S. Players of All Time, credits her strong support system with helping her come back. Her mom is retired and can help take care of Julianne.
“I have that in my family, friends, and fans,” she said. “And I’m so grateful my mom can travel with me and my daughter.”
The most difficult aspect of the process was the tight timeframe needed to get back on the squad. “It’s a very talented team,” she said. “We have a lot of depth. Which adds to making things difficult for the coach, but it makes our team that much stronger.”
According to McCutcheon, who coached the U.S. men’s team to gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, it’s not just her longevity in the sport that stands out, but