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.

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This Post Has 44 Comments

  1. Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor were two women I used to look up to when I played volleyball. I always knew they were some of the most talented and hard working athletes out there, but this article made me truly realize just how talented they really were. It surprised me how they had a 112 match and 18 tournament winning streak before the Beijing Olympics. I also think it’s incredible how even after taking a break from volleyball to pursue other things in life, they were both able to come back together and win another gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. Jennings and May-Treanor are two of the overall best athletes to compete in the Olympics.

  2. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings achieved great success throughout their career of volleyball. The two show that no matter what you sent your mind to you can do it as long as you try. Treanor and Jennings switched from playing indoor volleyball to beach volleyball which was a bit of a change.The fact they switched from one Olympic sport to another, win two Olympic gold medals in that new sport, and later on win a third after some of their life altering obstacles. This article showed two amazing athletes at their weakest and wrote about them overcoming their obstacles and succeeding at the Olympics.

  3. I loved this article. Volleyball is my favorite sport, I have played it my entire life. I remember watching this dynamic duo in the 2008 and 2012 olympics. Their team chemistry was undeniably unstoppable. I always looked up to them and their journey throughout their career. With hard work and dedication you can accomplish anything you set your mind to!

  4. Two outstanding gold medalist athletes. I’m not the biggest sports person but reading this had me wishing I had seen it for myself. Having a winning streak of 112 matches and 18 tournament wins before stepping foot into the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China is insane! That shows the prior dedication and determination they had that helped sustain them in the Olympic games. You will catch me watching the Olympic games and rooting alongside them after reading this.

  5. I think it is so cool that these two women were the dynamic duo in beach volleyball. I also think that it is even better that they both succeed so well in high school that that is where it all started for them. Not only being so good at volleyball but other sports too. It is women like this that can make the biggest difference. People look up to them. It was sad to hear about Misty-May tearing her Achilles Tendon because I know a recovery like that can take a toll on anyone who is so active. I really enjoyed that they both together decided not to compete anymore and really start with their own lives and stay close friends along the way.

  6. I didn’t know who Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings were until reading this article which surprises me since I love watching the Olympics. I find their perseverance and dedication to volleyball to be both inspiring and admirable, especially since the obstacles they overcome weren’t small bumps in the road. Two pregnancies and a torn tendon are not easy things to overcome, and yet, they came back even stronger which amazes me!

  7. These two will always be remembered as Olympic greats, the significance in that statement is profound, but for some reason, we desensitized being one of the greatest of all time in modern sports. Its almost as if it isn’t a significant deal anymore but in fact what they achieved together is so extraordinary. Furthermore, athletes have a personal life to balance aswell. It is amazing how they both had struggled throughout their personal life, but that didn’t stop them from winning again. They are both inspirational.

  8. Having a sister and a girlfriend that play volleyball around I have grown up watching the sport. However, I’m used to indoor volleyball not the outside heat This story is a very interesting one because it isn’t the typical six on six. Misty May and Kerri Walsh competed in beach volleyball. They competed in both the 2004 Olympic games, 2008 games, and also in the 2012 games. They had both competed in some very high competition games before getting paired together in 2004. It showed when the two won three consecutive gold medals. I think this shows that if you work really hard with someone you trust and love to be around that you can achieve greatness!

  9. The successes between Kerri Walsh and Misty May without a doubt make these women some of the most looked up to of their generation. The fact they switched from one Olympic sport to another, win two Olympic gold medals in that new sport, and later on win a third after some of their life altering obstacles, makes these athletes some of the most respected throughout the history of the United states and the world. I enjoyed reading about these athletes and their amazing accomplishments and can confidently say their efforts have inspired me and many others to strive to become our best selves.

  10. Ashley Martinez

    Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings achieved great success throughout their career of volleyball. It is great to read great success stories like these because they are very inspirational. It is great to see the passion these two women have for the sport of volleyball. I think it is awesome to see that these women stayed focused on their passion for volleyball and received an education along the way with their athletic journey. The two show that no matter what you sent your mind to you can do it as long as you try. Treanor and Jennings switched from playing indoor volleyball to beach volleyball which was a bit of a change. These two showed that even setbacks such as events that occurred in the family and injuries are setbacks are things you can always come back from as long as you have the drive for it. These steps these women followed are the recipe for success in all aspects of life.

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