The Triumphant Duo: Misty May and Kerri Walsh

After Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings defeated the other American team in the 2012 Olympic games.

Volleyball in itself is already a competitive sport. Olympic volleyball, however, is on a whole different level. Going to the Olympics even once is considered a lifetime dream that athletes chase. This being considered, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Welsh Jennings went above and beyond throughout their careers to obtain an exceedingly rare opportunity. 

Misty May-Treanor first played in a volleyball match at the age of eight. From there her talent just exceeded expectations. Her family were freak athletes as well, so it makes sense that she became the athlete she was. Her father played on the US National Men’s Volleyball Team in 1968, and her mother was a nationally ranked tennis player. Misty May-Treanor played throughout high school and college. In fact, when she was a senior at California State University at Long Beach, she led her team to win the title of NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Champions in 1998. She then continued her volleyball career to play for the United Sates National Indoor team. She was named First Team All-American in 1996 and 1997. After realizing she wanted to try something new, she switched from indoor volleyball to the beach volleyball Olympic team. She first played on the beach team in 2000. Although she did not do as expected, she finished fifth. She came back in 2004 hungry for the gold medal and found a new partner, Kerri Walsh Jennings.1 

Kerri Walsh Jennings was an incredible athlete. She played throughout high school and college. In high school, not only did she play volleyball, but she also played basketball. She led her high school team, Archbishop Mitty High School, to three volleyball state championship wins and one championship win in basketball. Kerri Walsh Jennings was a serious athlete. She continued to pursue her volleyball career in college; she committed to play at Stanford University. At this point, she was not only an athlete, but she was a collegiate athlete. She had many recognition as well as many awards throughout her college career. As a team, Stanford won the 1996 and 1997 NCAA Final Four title. After college, Kerri Walsh Jennings went on to seek further achievements. She competed on the Indoor Olympic team in 2000. This was her first Olympic experience. The team finished fourth in Sydney, which was not bad for Kerri Walsh Jennings’s first Olympic training. She then shortly met with Misty May-Treanor and switched to beach volleyball. She trained hard since she was a little late to the game, but they both paired up and were headed for the 2004 Olympics.2 

Since they were both fairly new to the competition of Olympic beach volleyball, they had youth and athleticism on their side. They were amateurs when it came to the game of Olympic beach volleyball and it was new to them when it came to playing doubles together. They were determined, and dedicated to improving their skills from the indoor court to the sand court. With all the hard work they put in to be great they deserved nothing less than a gold Olympic metal. In 2004, they came to Athens with the goal of winning the gold medal. They started out strong, winning their first couple of matches. In fact, they were on a winning streak throughout the whole tournament, not dropping a single set. This was their first Gold Olympic medal.3 

Image result for kerri walsh and misty may
Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor Winning the Grand slam in Moscow. This is only one of their consecutive win | 2011 | Moscow

Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor continued to play in tournaments before going out to defend their title in the 2008 Olympic Games. After four years of training and tournaments, they had a winning streak of 112 matches and 18 tournament wins before stepping foot into the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. They defended their title for the second consecutive year. They were unstoppable and everyone was excited to see if they would stick around for the next games. 4

After their second win, both Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor decided to take a break from volleyball for a while. They wanted to just play for fun and no longer compete.  Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor decided to go separate ways with their lives.  

Misty May-Treanor was preparing to be on Dancing with the Stars after the 2008 Olympics, however, when she was practicing for the show, she tore her Achilles tendon. This required a long recovery as well as surgery. This injury caused Misty May-Treanor to be out for a little over a year and miss competing in the 2009 season. While she was overcoming this obstacle, Walsh Jennings had two children, Joseph (2009) and Sundace (2010).  During the off-season, she endured two pregnancies and came out stronger.5 

Although both Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor had struggles to overcome, they decided to come back together and compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. They took 2009 off for May-Treanor’s injury and Walsh Jennings was off for two years due to her pregnancies. They came back a little rusty, but persevered and trained even harder than before. They went through the Olympics not dropping a match. Before they knew it, they were playing for gold in the finals. They were faced with Jen Kessy and April Ross, a fellow American team. Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor came out on top winning both sets, 21-16 and 21-16. This was their third consecutive win. They went down in history for the first three-year consecutive gold metals for Olympic beach volleyball.6 

“The first two gold medals it was more about volleyball. The friendship we had was there, but it was volleyball, volleyball, volleyball. This was so much more about the friendship, the togetherness, the journey — and volleyball was just a small part of it.” -May-Treanor.7

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings are the best duo in volleyball history. They did the unbelievable and will be remembered forever.  

After the 2012 Olympics, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings split paths and continued to do their own thing. May-Treanor retired the Olympic life. She went to get a degree in coaching and Athletic Administration. She now coaches and plays for fun occasionally. May-Treanor also welcomed a new member to her family, Malia Barbara, her daughter. Walsh Jennings continued to play in the following Olympics. Although she had to find a new partner, April Ross, They received the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics. After her 2016 win , this made Kerri Walsh Jennings is the most decorative Olympian in beach volleyball.8 

Athletes dream to have the experience to get one Olympic gold medal, but Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings did the unbelievable of achieving three Olympic gold medals in the span of nine years. Their dedication and commitment to the sport of beach volleyball made everyone love and support them, no matter where in the world they were competing.

  1. Ellen Aim, Misty May/Kerri Walsh: Dynamic Duo (Whittier, CA: Creative Media Publishing, 2016), 4-5.
  2. Ellen Aim, Misty May/Kerri Walsh: Dynamic Duo (Whittier, CA: Creative Media Publishing, 2016), 15-20.
  3. Ellen Aim, Misty May/Kerri Walsh: Dynamic Duo (Whittier, CA: Creative Media Publishing, 2016), 21-16.
  4. Ellen Aim, Misty May/Kerri Walsh: Dynamic Duo (Whittier, CA: Creative Media Publishing, 2016), 22-27.
  5. Ellen Aim, Misty May/Kerri Walsh: Dynamic Duo (Whittier, CA: Creative Media Publishing, 2016), 28-34.
  6. Carol Schram, “Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh: History of Their Beach Volleyball Dominance,” Bleacher Report. October 01, 2017. Accessed September 12, 2018. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1272168-misty-may-treanor-kerri-walsh-history-of-their-utter-beach-volleyball-dominance#slide1.
  7. Jim Caple, ”May-Treanor, Walsh Jennings perfect,” ESPN, August 8, 2012. http://www.espn.com/olympics/summer/2012/espnw/story/_/id/8249364/2012-olympics-misty-treanor-kerri-walsh-jennings-end-ride-gold.
  8. Ellen Aim, Misty May/Kerri Walsh: Dynamic Duo (Whittier, CA: Creative Media Publishing, 2016), 4-5.

Tags from the story

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. These two women are people who inspire me as an athlete because they worked so hard to get to the point that they did. They went from just playing something they loved, to going to one of the biggest stages they possibly could’ve to compete, the Olympics. After the obstacles they were thrown, they were determined to finish something that they started and wanted. Great article!

  2. I loved reading about this powerful duo. I thought it was really cool that even though they switched from indoor volleyball to sand volleyball, both persevered and trained harder than ever, and even got so far as to win gold. I also thought it was interesting that both took a break from volleyball and then came back and still won gold again. It was touching to hear that to them it was not just about volleyball or winning, it was about the journey.

  3. These two women show a lot of hard work and dedication throughout their athlete careers. This article is good because I think that this can inspire many young women athletes that want to be in the same shoes as they are when they get older. These women as a duo won multiple gold medals and it is exiting to see them live their dream. They didn’t allow things like injury to slow them down, and they fought for what they believed and knew what they were always capable of.

  4. They are both hardworking, determined athletes. The raw number of hours they spend training and working towards the Olympics must have been insane. To be able to go to the Olympics is an honor all in its own, but to win a gold medal, that is amazing! It is also astounding that they had a win streak of 112 matches and 18 tournament wins! They both deserve more recognition for their feats. Amazing article.

  5. This is one of the most I conic duos in american sports history. They also happen to be one of the most underrated duos in sports history even through the glory the brought the USA through their athleticism and victories during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I remember watching them as a kid and it was awesome seeing them blow everybody else out of the water.

  6. I grew up watch this two ladies in the Olympics. I inspired to be them when I was little. They were amazing athletes they truly were extremely passionate about volleyball and it definitely paid off in the end. I was extremely heartbroken to hear that Misty- May- Treanor had retired, during that moment I thought that Kerri Walsh was also going too. They have left an amazing legacy behind and no one will ever fit into their shoes.

  7. I had never heard of either Walsh Jennings or May-Treanor and I’m so glad I now know their empowering stories. It is so crazy to read about how while they were both amazing athletes neither of them had initially gone into the sport with the intention of playing beach volleyball and the fact that they were able to make so many achievements at the Olympic level is amazing! Another thing that stood out was the fact that even after having gone through an injury and having two kids they knew that they were not done and went back to finish what they started, truly an inspirational story!

  8. I always enjoy reading articles about empowering and strong women, especially when it involves sports. These two women are so influential in their own ways, and it is amazing how well they have done together. Not many people have the privilege of saying they own Olympic gold medals, let alone winning three. This was such an amazing article to read.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu