Lynda Morales is a member of the Puerto Rico women's volleyball team competing in the 2016 Olympics

Posted at 11:30 PM, Aug 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-07 02:30:30-04

For Lynda Morales playing volleyball at Centennial High School was just a stepping stone to where she is now and while she isn't representing Team USA, she said getting to represent her families Puerto Rican heritage has been special.

The Olympic games are officially open and day one of competition is in the books, this year Bakersfield being represented.

Lynda Morales graduated from Centennial High in 2006 before going to Cal State Northridge where she continued playing volleyball.

It was at Northridge that she was contacted about playing professionally in Puerto Rico, leading to her spot on this year’s national team.

“My grandmother was born in Aricebo, Puerto Rico and so I'm second generation Puerto Rican and so that's my little niche and that's how I'm able to play for the Puerto Rican national team,” said Morales.

And while she was born in the United States and grew up here, she says getting to move to Puerto Rico and represent so many of her relatives has been something she'll always cherish.

“Being able to have lived in Puerto Rico for the past five or six years, I've actually been able to get to know a lot of my Puerto Rican heritage. I've learned Spanish. It's been great, I've lived in Puerto Rico so I know what it's like,” said Morales.

But now being there and not just being a spectator she says she's sort of still in shock, especially being surrounded by other athletes that can call themselves the greatest in the world.

“You just walk around and you see Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Serena Williams. I actually got Manu Ginobili's autograph because I'm a huge, huge Manu Ginobili fan. And on my lanyard, I got him to sign it and I took a picture with him,” said Morales.

But last night as every country had its name called and was given it's moment to shine, Morales says her emotions were out of control. 

“I kind of wanted to cry because I was just like oh my God this is like I'm becoming an official Olympian. And I'd never ever in my wildest dreams thought that would ever happen. But then I started to get a little bit nervous as we got closer and then by the time we were about to out, I was like a little kid,” said Morales.

And something Morales says makes these games even more special for her and her family is that this is the first time ever that Puerto Rico's women's volleyball team has qualified for the Olympics, calling it another piece of history she'll always get to remember.