American Dustin Watten belongs to the very top of the best liberos in the world, but unfortunately for him, the US National Team has another top class player on his position. It does not bother Watten. Moreover, he is glad to have a guy like Erik Shoji as a competitor and tries to impose himself to US head coach John Speraw more throughout club’s volleyball. Thus, from the next season, he will play in one of the strongest championships worldwide – the Polish.
The US National Team has begun with preparations for the FIVB World League and Olympic Games. So, are players tired from an exhausting season and what is the willing momentum at training?
“Guys are exhausted from our professional season! But the coaches are conscious of this and have been very flexible with letting guys have extra time to be with their families and making sure everyone is physically 100% before rushing anyone back. Besides the injuries and bruises guys have acquired overseas, everyone is so focused and so passionate about our goal of being Olympic champions that there really isn’t any signs at all of mental fatigue. You can see and feel the energy in the weight room, on the court and even before practice, everyone is so excited to be back, to be home and to get back to work. It’s a fun environment as everyone gets along so well in the gym, to play volleyball with 20 of your best friends. What else could you ask for?” Watten said at start of an interview for our website.
When you speak to each other about the Rio Olympics at training, what are the thoughts, desires, expectations…?
“It’s really not something we speak of too much, there is too much work to be done now and our focus is sharpening our philosophy of how we want to play the game, getting stronger in the weight room and what we can do each day to be a little better. Rio is on everyone’s minds but we are doing a great job on working day by day and to build ourselves individually and as a team the best we can.”
Many envy the US National Team for having such a great players on each position, which includes your position as well. How do you and Erik Shoji get along and do you give advice to each other?
“Erik is amazing, not just as a libero but as a teammate and as a friend. He’s one of those guys where everyone enjoys being around him whether it’s on or off court because he is always so positive and his smile is contagious. When Erik is on the court, he gives us a great chance to win as he is one of the best liberos in the world, if not the best. I’m just trying to be the best version of myself and I hope in whatever way I can, I can contribute to our teams’ success. I’m very grateful that we have been able to become teammates and friends.”
Which are the favorites to win a gold medal at the Rio Olympics by your opinion?
“Good question! Unfortunately I am not the one to ask as I am not one to speculate and gossip. All I know is that we have a lot of work ahead of us to get where we want to be and that is on top of the podium.”
You have chosen a new club for 2016/2017 season. Polish Championship is a great challenge, what do you expect there?
“I am very honored and excited to join a league and a club with so much prestige and history. As I have mentioned in other interviews, it has been a goal of mine to enter the Plusliga since becoming a professional. I expect a lot of hard work in front of me, big challenges and new friendships. I am very excited for this opportunity and I am excited to share my passion for our beautiful game with the best fans in the world,” the US National Team libero concluded.
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