USA's Kami Miner setting the ball in the match against Russia

Born and raised in a sports family, for Kamerynn Miner, known as Kami, setter and captain of the USA Women’s U20 team, volleyball is the most important thing on her agenda, but she has been missing the game a lot due to the coronavirus outbreak. Kami, however, has spent the time at home wisely, watching international players on a daily basis and trying to learn from them.

“I watched a lot of videos of Maja Ognejenovic, the setter of the Serbian national team. I love her, she is my absolute international favourite, a player to follow. Doing these “study sessions of volleyball” taught me a lot about how to continue getting better mentally when you are not able to physically be on the court,” Kami told Volleyball World.

Kami is really happy to be back on the court, however, representing team USA at the FIVB Volleyball Women's U20 World Championship. “For most of us, in our team, this is the first time competing again on the international stage after the pandemic. I think that we are all really excited, there is a lot of emotion involved, and we are trying to channel those to the right place during practice and in matches,” Miner said.

Kami Miner (6) and her teammates celebrating a point

Kami Miner (6) and her teammates celebrating a point 

The players led by head coach Dan Fisher support each other during matches, and to Kami, this plays a pivotal role for team spirit. “We have a lot of energy coming from the bench and on the court. I think that I can speak for all of us - it is an honour to be competing here, in Rotterdam.”

The USA roster in Rotterdam includes seven of the players who won the U18 Worlds in 2019 and the dream of repeating the success at the next age group level is closer than ever. “Of course, the ultimate goal is being at the top at the end of this tournament, but we are taking it one match at a time,” Kami said.

Being the USA captain is a esponsibility for Miner, which requires empathy and mental toughness. She is aware of that, and is more than happy to be facing the challenges on and off the court while helping her teammates as well.

“It is such an unbelievable blessing and honour being the USA captain. I was actually shocked that I was named captain. I think, for me, it really allows me to put an emphasis on being there for my teammates - emotionally when they need support, and, of course, volleyball-wise.”

For Kami, being the setter of the team is the best position, and she loves it. “I love being in that leadership-type position! I love being the person that other people can rely on. I guess it kind of fits with my personality - this is my favourite aspect of it.”

Miner smiles when asked if this also has a connection with the personality of her father, Harold, a former professional basketball player and two-time champion of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

“My father has taught me a lot about leadership and in general about being an athlete. He has been training me and my little brother since we were both small kids. However, he never put any pressure on me to practice basketball. It is just not my thing. But during the trainings with my father, he instilled the qualities that are necessary to be successful at the highest level. It is kind of “been there, done that” for him,” the USA captain said.

Among all the advice that Harold has given to his daughter over the years, Kami has a favourite recommendation. “Put an emphasis on the hard work and be humble about everything. No matter what gym you are in, what you are doing, whether it is on or off the court, just work hard.”