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Team USA volleyball star Jordan Larson is known to many by her catchy nickname “the Governor,” but how did it come to be? The Olympic gold medalist credits Team USA teammate Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson for the memorable moniker.

“We’ve been friends for over ten years, and she is one of my best friends,” says Larson, adding that she and Foluke started off as rivals, evening talking “a little crap” against each other in the 2006 NCAA finals.

Their friendship, however, flourished on the National Team, traveling the world together. And on one of those trips, the infamous “Governor” nickname came to be.

“We were in Thailand for our National Team games, and all of a sudden I see this guy at the end of the fan section, and he’s wearing a Nebraska shirt, and Foluke is like ‘seriously,'” Larson said.

Larson grew up in Nebraska and was a star on the Cornhuskers volleyball team, helping them win the national title in 2006.

The fan in Thailand ended up flagging Larson down, telling her he knew her dad. When Foluke went to share the unlikely story with her brother, he responded, “I mean, not surprising — [Larson] is like the Governor of Nebraska.”

And so, the nickname was born.

Foluke, who Larson calls the nickname queen, soon started referring to Larson exlusively as “the Governor,” and what once began as a joke quickly caught on.

“So it’s become part of the brand, but it’s more of a joke than anything,” says Larson, who now answers to several variations of “the Governor” nickname.

Listen to the latest episode of the Just Women’s Sports podcast for more behind-the-scenes stories with Team USA volleyball star Jordan Larson.