UTICA — Now you can call her a continental champion. Volleyball player Emily Londot is back home in Utica after taking part in the NORCECA Girls’ Continental Championship as part of the U18 Girls Youth National Team, which was held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Aug. 25-Sept. 2.
The US team played Nicaragua, Barbados, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and took on Canada in the finals.
“We crushed Canada in the first and second set,” Londot said. “The third set was really close. We were down, 10-1, and came back to win, 25-23.”
Londot predominantly played right side hitter. Teams were only allowed six substitutions, so she had a chance to play all the way around — often right back and right front. She was chosen as best opposite (right hitter) in the tournament.
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The teams stayed in a high-rise hotel in the heart of Tegucigalpa. It was all business, practicing and playing, while they were there and they didn’t have much time for sightseeing. From the time the teams landed at the airport, they were under the protection of armed guards, who were stationed outside of the hotel.
“From the roof of the hotel we stayed in, the view was beautiful from the city of Tegucigalpa,” Londot said. “We did not get to tour around very much because it was a little dangerous. From our hotel rooftop, all around us were mountains. The clouds sat on top of the mountains and it was really a beautiful sight. Everywhere we went, we took the bus and, most of the time, we had a police escort. There were always two men on one motorcycle and there were three motorcycles leading our way.“
The team ate at the hotel every night and didn’t get to try a lot of different foods, but Londot and her teammates made plenty of friends along the way.
“We talked to the Barbados girls as well as the ones from Costa Rica,” Londot said. “They were really nice.”
For Londot and her 11 teammates, participating in the tournament was the final step of a months-long process that included nationwide tryouts and practicing at the US Olympic facility in Colorado Springs. All of that made representing their country that much more special.
“One of my favorite parts is that, before every match, we would all stand in the middle of the court,” Londot said. “The teams were on each side and they played our national anthems. Just standing in front of the crowd, singing our national anthem and knowing that we were representing our country, I don’t have words to explain how great that was — the honor of representing our country and singing my heart out. It was an amazing experience.”
After an incredible week, Londot is happy to be back home with her Utica High School volleyball teammates and her family, but she brings back memories that will last a lifetime.
“Just to know that each country is different, but still the same at the same time,” Londot said. “The level of competition was great. Playing alongside the girls from the United States was really fun and we learned a lot. We got better each day that we practiced and each day that we played.”