One of the most unique elements of the Olympic Games — both the summer edition and the winter edition — is its ability to make unknowns into household names seemingly overnight. Would anyone know the name Michael Phelps if not for the Olympics? What about Carl Lewis?
These great athletes participate in sports that not many people pay attention to outside of the Olympics. Because of the increased attention from the Olympic games, the world gets to experience athletic excellence in more than just the sports they are used to.
Two people who the Olympics turned into stars were Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. But just how did the two become stars, and what are they up to now? Let’s take a closer look at the careers of these two and where life has taken them now.
How Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings came to prominence
May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings became famous for their performance in three straight Summer Olympic games. They both started as indoor volleyball players but switched to beach volleyball in 1999. They won three consecutive beach volleyball gold medals in 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic games.
To put into context how successful their run over those three Olympics was, consider the fact that not only did Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor never lose a match, they only lost one set. When asked why their partnership was so successful, May-Treanor compared the game to a dance:
“If you play together for years and years, you kind of feel it. Volleyball is really a dance – you see those professional dancers, they know what the next move is without verbalizing and that is how Kerri and I were. We had played together for so long, you get used to seeing movement and you think the same. If you go in with a game plan and you think alike, that is when the dance happens.”
Where is Kerri Walsh Jennings now?
Walsh Jennings is still playing beach volleyball. She hopes to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She’ll partner with Brooke Sweat, another accomplished beach volleyball player, in an attempt to nab her fourth Olympic gold medal. Sweat was an Olympian in 2016. Walsh Jennings will be 42 when the games take place but feels confident in her chances nonetheless.
Walsh Jennings is clearly still in it to win it for Tokyo 2020. But if she’s playing with Sweat, where does that leave her former partner?
Where is Misty May-Treanor now?
May-Treanor is married to Matt Treanor, a name that may be familiar to some eagle-eyed baseball fans. Treanor caught at the major league level from 2004-2012. He played for the Florida Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
May-Treanor has retired from competition to raise her three children alongside her husband. When asked if she’d return to the game, May-Treanor was blunt: her focus is 100% on her family.
“I have new priorities now…I have a full-time job. For me, my career has moved on. We did great things and accomplished great things, and now I’m hopefully taking my accomplishments elsewhere.”
Despite her dedication to her home life, according to May-Treanor she still misses the game and her partnership with Walsh Jennings in particular:
“I really miss training with Kerri…That is when you push yourself the most, in the weight room and on the sand in practice.”
Despite being away from the game, it’s clear May-Treanor still has a competitive fire that burns as bright as it did when she played. While she no longer plays competitively, she has taken up coaching.
In 2016 she became the director of volleyball operations at Long Beach College. It’s great to see that after contributing so much to the game of beach volleyball, she’s culminating her career in it by giving back to the next generation.