February 10, 2008 in Sports

Walsh cherishes memories of Spokane

By The Spokesman-Review
File photo

Kerri Walsh was a freshman on the 1997 Stanford team that won the NCAA championship at the Arena. She has since turned to the outdoor game, in which she and playing partner Misty May-Treanor have set several records and won the 2004 Olympic gold medal.
(Full-size photo)

AVP Crocs Hot Winter Nights Tour

Olympic medalists and other top players will bring the beach party atmosphere of professional beach volleyball at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Arena.

•Tickets range from $10-$65 and can be purchased at www.avp.com or through TicketsWest.

Kerri Walsh is a 6-foot-3 sandstorm.

There isn’t much the beach volleyball star hasn’t accomplished when it comes to her sport – indoors or outdoors.

The 29-year-old’s resume includes an Olympic Gold Medal from the 2004 Athens Games and three SWATCH-FIVB Championship tiles – Rio de Janeiro in 2003, Berlin in 2005 and Gstaad in 2007.

Two years ago, Walsh’s career earnings on the AVP circuit eclipsed $1 million – the fourth American woman to do so – and alongside her partner Misty May-Treanor, Walsh holds the AVP record for team wins (13) and prize money ($408,800) in a single season.

Those are just some of her outdoor credentials.

Walsh, who had shoulder surgery three months ago, won’t be playing when the AVP Crocs Hot Winter Nights indoor beach volleyball tour rolls through town on Wednesday, but there’s a 50-50 chance she will be here as an active spokesperson for the event. She would also be watching her husband, Casey Jennings, play in the event.

If that’s the case, Walsh will be returning to Spokane – a city of which she has fond memories.

Widely considered to be one of the best players in NCAA history, Walsh and the Stanford Cardinal won the NCAA title in Spokane in 1997 when she was a freshman.

“That was a great time,” Walsh recalled. “When you win something like that, that city always has a special place in your heart and there was such a great reception for volleyball, I still remember it.”

That’s not her most memorable career moment, however. How could it be? She and May-Treanor’s Gold Medal victory in 2004 landed the two in the history books as the first American duo to accomplish the feat.

“Hands down, Athens was the biggest moment of my career,” said Walsh. “It was just the combination of such a long career, having family there to watch us do it and going through all the stuff I went through with Misty.

“It was an amazing moment.”

Walsh and May-Treanor come from families dominated by athletics.

May-Treanor’s father was a 1968 indoor volleyball Olympian and a prominent beach player. Her late mother, Barbara, played tennis at UCLA and beach volleyball later on. Her cousin, Taylor Dent, is a member of the U.S. Olympic tennis team, and she’s married to Florida Marlins catcher Matt Treanor.

Walsh’s dad, Tim, was a towering 6-8 minor league pitcher and her mother, Margie, 5-7, was a two-time volleyball MVP at Santa Clara.

Walsh was a promising player for the U.S. national indoor team. She was even almost teammates with May-Treanor, a two-time NCAA player of the year at Long Beach State who left the national team in 1999 just before Walsh was added to the roster.

Walsh, who at Stanford became just the second player in NCAA history to receive first-team All-America honors all four seasons, was a 2000 Olympian, helping the U.S. women’s indoor team to a surprise fourth-place finish.

“Indoor was my love and I never really got sick of it,” said Walsh. “But I started playing beach and I had this epiphany – I said to myself, ‘I can’t believe I haven’t played this my whole life.’ I love my lifestyle – my office is a beach and it’s beautiful. I get to travel the world and make a living and you can’t do that with indoor.”

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