Volleyball is a blast, backstory on Jamal Morris, and pronunciations


Last night was my second volleyball match in two seasons and it is still surprising to me how fun the sport is live. I’ve tried watching on TV and it’s not nearly the same. Also, a bit of backstory on how the Jamal Morris story came to be, and learning to say their names.

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Point Houston. Volleyball was a blast last night at Fertitta Center. The Coogs beat the perennial NCAA Tournament team USC. UH had the momentum for most of the match, save some of the second and third sets. A crowd of 1900 had the place rocking, and the UH team has so much energy and chemistry – they very clearly love playing with each other. What David Rehr is building is special.

The team unveiled their Sweet 16 banner before the game, and that’s pretty cool. It’s such a cool atmosphere, a fast-paced sport, and a cheap night out. I’ll definitely be back, and you should go, too!

My Why. Jamal Morris’ incredible story is worth reading if you have not. He laid it all out there, and I think everyone who reads it will become a fan of #25.

Backstory. In June, there was a media availability in the club area of TDECU. It was picture day for UH Football, and Andy Pate and the Comms shop gave us access to talk to players. Around 20-25 players were all around the room, and media members picked who they wanted to talk to, usually one-on-one. It was a fantastic experience and appreciated. I got to know guys that I didn’t know before, and one of them was Jamal Morris.

Morris and I met last year when he was in the SID’s office to do a Zoom for football media. We’d just had a basketball media availability, I guess, and so I was in the office sitting in a lobby chair with my headphones in, listening. Jamal sat down and wanted to talk. Said he loved our logo and buttered me up a little, but was fun to get to know. Obviously, that’s not the case for all athletes. He also said he was definitely interested in working with us and I kept that in my pocket.

Flash forward to June’s media avail, and Jamal was sitting there alone, so I went to talk to him. We talked football, who was impressing him in the spring, and what he’s been working on. Jamal said his biggest focus this offseason is getting his eyes in the right spot more consistently. But near the end of our talk, he mentioned his mental health and about being a loner, quiet, and always in his head. I’d been mulling mental health since March and I thought we could do something cool together. We circled back on that topic in July and again in August, and that’s where his tremendous essay came from. It took a lot of guts for him to come out and talk about that topic, and I’m awfully proud he did.

Since his story ran, several UH Athletes have reached out, and we’ll be working with them to see if the situation is right for them to tell their stories. Stay tuned to Every Struggle Is Different.

Say My Name. Every year, I take some time to learn the trickiest names on the roster. I try to get them right, and sometimes I get them right, and then sometimes, a head coach says it wrong all year, and I start doing the same (cough Kelvin, cough Ja’Vier, cough J’Wan).

Here’s the 10 I needed help with:

Hakeem Ajijolaiya – Al-jij-o-laya
Ui Ale – oo-ee ah-lay
Ivan Autenreith – au-ten-reeth
Amipeleasi Langi – AH-mee-PAY-lee-AH-see long-ee
David Ndukwe – en-DOO-kway
Chidozie Nwankwo – Chi-Doz-ee wahn-khuw
Garyreon Robinson – GA-Re-ee-on
Nadame Tucker – nah-DEEM
Justice Ugo – oo-GO
David Ugwoegbu – oo-GWAY-boo

I will return to this list for a while on Hakeem Ajijolaiya and Amipeleasi Langi. Langi might set a school record with six syllables in his first name. The most helpful thing is that each has his tag on this website after today, so I don’t have to go far to check the spelling.

Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, is proud to be a corporate sponsor as the Official Personal Injury Law Firm for the University of Houston Athletics.

“As a University of Houston alum, I am honored that the University of Houston Athletics chose our firm to be their official and exclusive personal injury law firm,” says Stewart J. Guss, the firm’s founder.