Three decades of team spirit

The camaraderie among the 1988 PSU Women’s Volleyball National Champions’ team defies convention. Although 10 of these women now live in Canada, Alaska, Montana, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, they’ve assembled for an annual weekend get-together for the past 30 years.  “We were a really selfless group that liked to have fun, which made our struggles as athletes bearable and allowed us to truly celebrate our most joyful moments,” says team member Patty Jayne. “We’re still really down-to-earth and love to laugh together.”

Team member Cathy Nelson recognizes a special synergy. “We’re all very different but have an energy that mixes just right,” says Nelson. “With us, the sum of the whole is much greater than its parts.”

For Andy (Thompson) Maddams, playing on the team was incredibly influential in her college experience because PSU had only a handful of housing developments and few other group activities in the 1980s. “We were always together,” says Maddams. “Even when we didn’t have to be in the gym, we would still be there. We loved being around each other and we basically ate, slept and played volleyball.”

Their work and time paid off in North Dakota on December 8, 1988. The Vikings had been on a winning streak since September when they arrived in North Dakota where the elite eight teams would compete. The other top team that year was North Dakota State, but it lost to Northridge, Calif. in the semi-finals. “It was going to be us versus Northridge, and we’d already beat them several times,” Nelson says. “We were playing very, very well and only getting better.”

Maddams still remembers the first moments of the game. “We were in a huge field house with only a handful of people there for us,” she recalls. “But when I stepped out on the court a sense of calm came over me, and when we won it was almost surreal.”

“At the time, it was the pinnacle of everything we’d worked for,” says Jayne. “The PSU volleyball program was really good, and we weren’t just winning for ourselves, we were continuing a legacy.”

Many of the 1988 championship team members went on to become teachers and have coached or currently coach volleyball. “As a coach I realize that college athletics prepares you for real life,” adds Jayne. “Through all of our trials and challenges after college, we’ve always been there for each other.”

Their weekend excursions have included a road trip to Napa wine country, exploring a member’s hometown, going bowling, or simply hanging out. In 2016, they commemorated their team by etching tattoos on their ankles. The tattoo’s unique design sports a volleyball and the letters “psu” outlined in a heart. “It’s a symbol of a time and experience that had a positive impact on our lives, and a reminder that we will never be alone,” says Jayne.

In addition to their annual weekend together, most of the team participates in the Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament in Seaside, Ore. with their families.

“We recognize how lucky we are to have this,” says Nelson. “To have won a national championship with my best friends in the world is the stuff of dreams.”

Their next get together will be at the November 3rd PSU volleyball match, where they will be publically introduced to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their national championship. Afterward, they’ll spend the weekend together in the Pearl District. While these 10 women experience pride in their success, they also revel in something deeper.

“As great as winning the championship was, my most treasured award is these friendships,” Maddams says. “Winning the championship doesn’t define me, but these women definitely do."