Fair use photo from de.wikipedia.org.

Destinee Hooker’s Love of the Process


By Brooke Olstad | Accounting and Finance Major

Olympic volleyball player Destinee Hooker flies up from the floor of the sport court. One powerful swing of an arm later, the crowd jumps from their seats in excitement. Hooker just scored yet another kill. She has recorded 23 kills already at the end of the third game of the match, a career high for Hooker. Texas claimed the first two games of the division one NCAA Volleyball Championship, but Penn State will not give up easily. Coaches, players and spectators alike start biting nails when Penn State snatches the third and fourth game and the championship match continues to the fifth game.

Every young volleyball player that watches the Olympic volleyball tournament wishes they could hit like Destinee Hooker. They look up to her and Hooker said, “they [the girls] say ‘we look up to you’ and that really touches my heart a lot because growing up I was the same way about some of the Longhorn players,” (interview). Maybe one day those little girls that looked up to her will become the next Destinee Hooker.

Hooker’s height and athleticism might have given her an advantage over other volleyball players, but she demanded attention for other reasons. Destinee Hooker’s love of the game, ability to make snap judgements and athletic family allowed her to become “one of the greatest volleyball players in the world” according to her teammate on Team USA, Danielle Scott-Arruda (Team USA’s Secret Weapon).

Destinee Hooker’s love of the game, ability to make snap judgements and athletic family allowed her to become “one of the greatest volleyball players in the world” according to her teammate on Team USA, Danielle Scott-Arruda (Team USA’s Secret Weapon).

At some point in every athlete’s career they fall in love with the process. Falling in love with the process means that every miniscule detail that an athlete does to improve their game becomes as much fun as the actual competition of games. Practicing and lifting seem less taxing because of its role in building better, stronger athletes. Hooker spoke about even when players have a bad day they, “suck it up for their teammates. I [Hooker] think that’s what every girl needs to know — it’s not all about you. There’s no ‘I’ in team,’” (interview). If a player only feels 60 percent on one day then that girl needs to give 100 percent of that 60 percent. The team grows stronger in tandem with the bodies of the athletes. Every true team player knows that with every repetition of squat or bench press they are strengthening the bond between teammates. The teammate lifting those weights rips not only their own muscles in order to build them back up, but also fortifies the team’s muscles. All the hours on the court and in the weight room add up to a strong athlete and a close-knit team. Players that do not love the game will never find worth in what they do on the court. When an athlete falls in love with the process they create more meaningful work for themselves and only then can they be successful.

In Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell writes that, “A belief in work ought to be a thing of beauty,” (239). Those whose work means something work harder. They understand that the greater the input, the greater the output. During an interview in Orlando at an AAU Volleyball Tournament, Hooker preached to young people everywhere to, “do what you want to do. Do what your heart says.” Hooker did what her heart told her. Her work ethic and love of the game and the process carried her to where she stands today as a decorated, Olympic volleyball player. A gigantic part of the “process” consists of the teammates traveling it alongside each other. Hooker thinks, “The main thing about being on a volleyball court is that you have a whole team around you to push you to be great,” (interview).

Volleyball is the most team-oriented sport that exists. One player cannot pass, set and hit the same ball. Each consecutive contact on the ball must be by a different player. Hiding on the court is not an option either. The opponent will seek out any player that attempts to hide and take advantage of her. Great teammates recognize when another teammate tries to hide on the court and they know that a reason probably exists. A good teammate will make an effort to drag that girl out of her own mind so she can get back to having fun playing the sport she loves. Becoming that great team player makes every second of the process worth it.

Seeing the block makes or breaks a hit in volleyball. “Seeing the block” means sensing and seeing the shoulders, arms and hands of the opponent across the net and hitting around them. From the time a hitter leaves the floor of the court to the time they reach the floor again after swinging takes less than two seconds. Destinee might be the exception to the two-second rule seeing as she jumps higher than most every other volleyball player in existence therefor spends more time in the air. Those two seconds allow a miniscule window for seeing the block all the while keeping an eye on the volleyball they are meant to hit. Volleyball players that subconsciously see the block can hit around it or see the hole in it and take advantage of it. If a hitter can see that hole in the block between blockers then they have the opportunity to send the ball on a plummeting journey straight to the wooden floor rather than swinging around the block. The only way a hitter sees that hole and the ball at the same time requires practice and experience. When the subconscious takes control of seeing the block then it becomes sensing the block. After much practice the subconscious can take control of seeing the block so that the conscious mind can focus on the ball.

Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink makes the point that one’s subconscious makes decisions for them at times. Gladwell defines “thin-slicing” as the fact that a tiny bit of information stretches a long way to allow our minds to come to conclusions. Gladwell writes that in basketball, “The player who can take in and comprehend all that is happening around him or her is said to have ‘court sense,’” (44). That also applies to volleyball and seeing the block. The players that thin-slice a situation well are the ones that hit around the block with ease. Their brains process the information and feed that information back to their muscles that then swing at the ball into the opening in the block. That “court sense,” or thinnest of thin-slicing, gives the athletes an edge over their opponents, but it only comes with hours of practice.

Destinee Hooker watched in awe of her older sister. Marshevet played volleyball so Destinee decided she would too. Every pass, set and swing Destinee saw Marshevet take pushed her harder and harder. As a freshman middle blocker in high school, Destinee felt all kinds of butterflies and nerves before matches. All she needed to do was look at her sister for courage and she could free those butterflies from the confines of her stomach.

Destinee Hooker’s cultural legacy boosted her resolve to play sports. Destinee’s sister and eight-time All-American athlete Marshevet Hooker graduated from the University of Texas as one of the most decorated athletes in school history. The volleyball world can thank Marshevet for her influence in Destinee’s destiny as a volleyball player. In an interview at a local tournament D. Hooker states, “I got involved by watching my sister. I have to say my sister inspired me,” (interview).

According to Marshevet’s biography on the USA Olympic Track and Field website, “both her mother, Marvetta, and her father, Ricky, played basketball for St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Ricky Hooker went on to be drafted by the San Antonio Spurs,” (USA Track and Field). The athletic family gave Destinee a little nudge in the direction of sports and she took off with it. Her athletic ability extended far beyond the volleyball player the world knows her as now. Destinee Hooker epitomized the hard-working, in-the-gym-year-round athlete in high school. She played volleyball, basketball and ran track and was competitive in all three. In her final basketball season in high school at Southwest, Hooker averaged 22.8 points, 16.2 rebounds and 7.3 blocks. The six-foot-four super-athlete excelled in all three sports but went on to run track and play volleyball at Texas University.

One of Gladwell’s points in Outliers includes the theory that the circumstances of one’s upbringing and cultural legacy affect how well they do in the world. Raised in an athletic family, Destinee was destined for great things athletically. An important factor in success is persistence. An example of persistence in Outliers is Schoenfield’s study. One student in particular surprised him when she stuck with a problem for 22 minutes until she finally achieved the “ah-ha” moment. Other students in the study looked at the problem and within a few minutes gave up and asked for the answer (239–247). Hooker showed her tenacity in her volleyball career at age 13. At age 13, little Destinee Hooker tried out for the volleyball team and got cut. Instead of quitting and just continuing with track and basketball she returned the next year to try again at volleyball. Reminiscing of her years in volleyball Hooker gave the advice, “never give up. I was raised by my parents and if the ball dropped it’s not the end of the world. Just push through it and go on to the next point,” (interview). Ricky and Marvetta Hooker raised their little girl with a drive to achieve. Hooker’s cultural legacy drove her to succeed as one of the greatest volleyball players in the world.

Destinee Hooker jumps high. To put it into perspective, many 18-year-old Northern Lights Volleyball Club players can touch 112–116 inches reaching into the air with their arm extended. Destinee Hooker, at six-foot-four with a vertical of 43 inches from her feet to the floor, can touch 119 inches. With the top of her head. Stack her monkey arms onto that and Team USA has a beast of a player on their team.

After a hard fought battle and 107 total points for Texas and 107 points for Penn State, Penn State finishes the fifth game victorious. Even with Hooker’s 34 kill — from both the front and back row — contributing 32 percent of Texas’ total points they lost and Hooker says, “That still eats me alive to this day,” (interview). The lost match devastated Texas and Hooker, but that did not stop Hooker from going professional or trying out for and making the USA Olympic Team.

Destinee Hooker perseveres and devotes herself and dominates on the court because of that dedication to the sport she loves. Her love of the process, ability of her subconscious to make snap judgments and family legacy prepared her well for her Olympic career. While not everyone can achieve what Destinee Hooker has in volleyball as they do not stand six-foot-four inches, they can be a Destinee Hooker in another area of their choosing.

Works Cited:

Amato, Derek. “My Beautiful Disaster.” TED. Emily McManus. TED, 14 October 2013. Web. 12 April, 2016.

Bascom, Tim. Personal Interview. 26 Feb. 2016.

Hooker, Destinee. Interview. Destinee Hooker at AAU Volleyball Jr. Nationals. The Real AAU Video. Orlando, 18 June 2011. Web. — — — -Broadcasted interview

Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005. Print

— -. “Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce.” TED. Ed. Emily McManus. TED, Feb. 2004. Video. 1 Feb. 2016.

— -. “Complexity and the Ten-Thousand-Hour Rule.” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 21 August 2013. Web. 12 April 2016.

— -. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008. Print.

Kettle, David. “How to Get Ahead in Just About Anything.” Strad. 1428 (2009): 67–68. Periodical.

McCollough, J. Brady. “Hooker facing Olympic champs; Former Southwest star has nerve-racking test at track trials.” J. Brady McCollough. Express-News, 9 July 2004. Web. 27 April 2016.

Moneyball. Dir. Bennet Miller. Perf. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Columbia Pictures, 2011. Film.

Norton, Richard. “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.” Naval War College Review. 59.1 (2006):154–157. Web. 12 April 2016.

Schwartz, Barry. “The Paradox of Choice.” TED. Ed. Emily McManus. TED, Jul. 2005. 1 Feb. 2016.

United States Olympic Committee. Team USA. United States Olympic Committee, 2 Mar. 2014. Web. 6 Mar. 2014.

USATF. USA Track & Field. USATF, 2016. Web. 6 May 2016.

“Where are they now? Youngest 2015 inductee into Longhorn Women’s Hall of Honor reflects on career.” UWIRE Text 6 Oct. 2015: 1. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.

“10,000 Hours of Practice.” Wisdom Group. Wisdom Group, 2016. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Photo by Conrad Engstrom.


Brooke Olstad, a freshman from Eagan, Minn., studies accounting and finance at Bethel University. Olstad loves playing volleyball, sunny days with fluffy white clouds and chocolate ice cream despite being a self-diagnosed lactose intolerant.


End where you began.

I have the ability to write a killer sentence that no one has ever written before in the history of writing.

“Is, are, was and were” make up a list of no-no words.

I learned that Beatles earned their fame. Nothing was handed to them.

Naming dogs is really fun. The more dogs named, the more unique the sentence, the more interesting the paper.

I have learned that not every day is going to be your day.

Our experiences shape our first impressions. In order to shape those impressions, we have to keep an open mind and low expectations.

I have learned that class does not have to be a chore. Attending class everyday not knowing what might come out of Scott’s mouth makes for an interesting experience.

Cliches are so cliche.

We do not choose our unconscious attitudes. They are ingrained in the depths of our subconscious minds and we may not even be aware of them.

To be a great writer you must be completely honest.

A little empathy to get the readers to care doesn’t hurt either.

It requires courage to write honestly.

I will always remember that wearing flannel on Mondays increases your chance of matching Scott for the day.

I have learned that experience distinguishes experts from ordinary people.

People like Bill Gates and the Beatles do not stumble upon success by accident. They are the beneficiaries of special opportunities and work to create advantages from disadvantages.

This is me ending where I began.

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