After hearing from their favorite volleyball player, hundreds of fans erupted into chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A.”
Then gold medal winner Lloy Ball was swarmed by the crowd – many waving small American flags in search of autographs and pictures with the new celebrity.
Ball, a Woodburn native and graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, was honored Thursday by Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and the Allen County commissioners, who all proclaimed Thursday “Lloy Ball Day.” He was part of the U.S. men’s Olympic volleyball team that won gold in China last week.
It was Ball’s first medal in four Olympic Games, making him the third local resident to win a gold medal and the first in 32 years. Matt Vogel won two for swimming in 1976, and swimmer Sharon Wichman Jones won in 1968.
Henry also offered Ball his Fort Wayne lapel pin, which Ball took but then gestured to his gold medal.
“I’ll accept this as long as he doesn’t think we’re exchanging,” Ball said.