Haley Eckerman often played alone on Iowa high school volleyball courts.
As a young black athlete, she rarely had African American role models or teammates. She saw her classmates at Waterloo East High, one of Iowa’s most diverse schools, select other sports.
“Especially in Iowa, where we play basketball or run track,” Eckerman said.
Eckerman went on to All-American honors at Texas and a professional career in the sport. But she wanted to show young black girls that volleyball offered pathways to success as well.
Eckerman found a way to promote her philosophy in grand fashion last month. She put together an all-star team comprised of African American women — including Iowans Kaz Brown and Monique Harris — and won the USA Volleyball Open National Championships.
It was the first time that a team of all black women won the title in the 89 times it’s been contested.
The 12-member squad’s name? Team Dream.
Growing up in Iowa helped inspire that dream.