Jordan Larson-Burbach is starting workouts at 6:30 a.m. four days a week, running and lifting and sweating with some volleyball players a half-dozen years younger than her.
And loving it — because the Olympian is back in Lincoln and training with her old Nebraska program.
“It’s just like college days,” Larson-Burbach said. “I’m just kind of excited that I don’t have to go to class after conditioning.”
Larson-Burbach has been on the go since joining the U.S. national team, then starting her professional career with the Russian club team Dynamo Kazan in 2009. Volleyball became a full-time job as she wore out her passport on the way to the 2012 London Olympics.
It wasn’t until May that Larson-Burbach was able to come home for any significant amount of time.
“It’s so refreshing. It’s great to be back,” she said. “I just love Nebraska. I love the people, I love the university ... I think you don’t understand it unless you’re from here. I just really appreciate it, and I’m not trying to take it for granted.”
The 26-year-old will mostly stay put until late August and then return with Team USA for the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship a few weeks later in Omaha. Single-session tickets, two-day passes and all-session packages are now on sale for the tournament that runs Sept. 16 to 21 at Ralston Arena.
As one of the veterans and returning Olympians on Team USA, Larson-Burbach got the OK from coach Karch Kiraly to spend most of the summer in Lincoln. She has returned twice to Anaheim, Calif., to train briefly with her American teammates.
In Lincoln, she joins the current Huskers and newcomers running on the football practice fields just after dawn every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. After some conditioning and then lifting in the Osborne Complex weight room, she occasionally adds some sprint work with former NU track star Dusty Jonas.
It might not sound all that relaxing, but it’s actually been just that for the former three-time AVCA All-American from Hooper, Neb.
It’s put her back among friends and family. Given Larson-Burbach the time to think about her future in a place where she’s comfortable.
Coming off the Olympic silver medal, Larson-Burbach wasn’t sure about pointing to the 2016 Games when she would be 29 for Rio de Janeiro.
“I’m definitely more on board than I could tell you that I was in the beginning,” she said. “It’s something that’s grown the more I’ve talked to Karch and the more I’ve missed the girls and stuff like that.”
Some of the apprehension had to do with the heartbreaking loss to Brazil in the gold-medal game “and everything that went into it.” Some had to do with the stress on her own life and family, including her husband, Luke Burbach.
“I think honestly I just needed this summer,” Larson-Burbach said. “I just needed time with family and I needed to be refreshed and I think that’s what I got. And it got my interest again and I do want to do it, and I do want to be there in Rio and I want to be representing the United States. It’s just a big commitment and I want to make sure I’m making the right decision.”
It has all fallen back together in familiar surroundings.
Out west, they don’t start workouts until 8:30 or 9 a.m. but Larson-Burbach has adjusted to 6:30. She also got a kick out of working NU camps and taking part in a LiveWellNebraska Tour last month.
Larson-Burbach has been there if some current Huskers need a hand or some advice, but she also tried to stay out of the way “because that’s kind of their time to really bond as a team.”
The outside hitter will still be around when NU starts preseason practice Aug. 10 and play in the Red-White scrimmage Aug. 24 at the remodeled Devaney Center. The NORCECA Continental Championship will be her return to Team USA — with a different attitude and outlook.
“I feel a lot better,” Larson-Burbach said. “I feel not only physically but mentally refreshed. I just feel like I’ll be able to kind of make this push and get to Rio in 2016.”