Kerri Walsh is one half of beach volleyball’s most dominant duo. She and her playing partner, Misty May-Treanor, have reunited to chase a third consecutive Olympic gold medal at the upcoming London Games. Since her last Olympics appearance, Kerri now has two children to compliment her two gold medals. The beach volleyball star is proving that she hasn’t lost her game, even after having children. She’s had to balance athletics with motherhood and reconnect with Treanor after two years off. Despite these challenges, Walsh is poised to take gold in London.
When Kerri suits up in her trademark bikini for the Games, her sons will show their patriotism in Pampers “USA” diapers. This Summer fans will see the Olympic rings on a wide range of Proctor & Gamble products such as Pampers. The company, a worldwide Olympic partner, is sponsoring more than 150 athletes around the world. Included on their Team USA roster is Walsh, who has partnered with the brand on the limited edition “USA” diaper launch as well as the “Thank You, Mom” campaign.
Walsh encourages fans to join P&G in saying “Thank You, Mom” and supports the USOC’s P&G/Team USA Youth Sports Fund, part of the company’s global effort to raise more than $5 million for youth sports. The P&G/Team USA Youth Sports Fund will benefit USOC youth sport organizations across the country. For each new “like” on the P&G ‘Thank you, Mom” Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thankyoumom), the company will donate $1 to the Youth Sports Fund, up to $100,000.
A Glam Slam spoke with Kerri, who dished on being a mom, preparing for the Olympic Games and the new beach volleyball wardrobe rules. Check it out:
How do you balance an intense athletic career with raising two kids?
It’s obviously always a work in progress. It’s something that I never have, but I’m so close to. I am able to juggle my career and my family because my husband is amazing and I have two beautiful boys, who although they’re difficult and challenging sometimes, they are also very reasonable. And our family and our friends are so supportive. It’s all about the support system and the phrase “it takes a village” absolutely applies to us. One of the most important lessons I learned from becoming a mom is you have to ask for help and you have to accept help and my whole life that’s been a really hard thing for me to do because I’m type A and I want to do it all. My husband one time told me it’s a gift to allow other people to help you. And I’m really grateful that my husband gave me that gift.
What about your mom? What role has she played in your athletic career?
My mom has played a role in every single wonderful thing I’ve ever done in my life. She’s the most beautiful, the toughest, sweetest, most resilient, most giving woman I’ve ever met. She’s so inspiring to me. She was a collegiate athlete, she played volleyball at Santa Clara University, she’s one of eight in her family. She’s just an amazing woman. She’s a woman who raised her kids to be tough in some positions but really caring. She’s just 100% heart and I take her with me every time I step on the court. If I have a bad attitude I hear her in my head telling me to snap out of it.
Can you talk about the “Thank You, Mom” campaign?
I’m really proud to be partnering with P&G because it’s given me this opportunity to hang out with my mom and to reflect on our lives together. It’s been really fun to sit down and just share the love. This “Thank You, Mom” campaign is something that I hold really close to my heart and it’s a great satisfaction that we’re helping youth sports and that we’re getting youth funding and it’s just a fantastic thing all around.
What is the Youth Sports Fund and why are sports important in kids’ lives?
The Youth Sports Fund is an amazing thing and with the “Thank You, Mom” campaign, if you like the page on Facebook, for every like P&G is going to donate $1 up to $100,000 to the youth sports fund. And that money will benefit the USOC and the NGB’s across the country. They’re hoping to raise $500,000 for these Youth Sports programs. They just want to get kids active and healthy and have access to sports because only positives come out of that. I’ve learned so many of life’s most important lessons through sports, that’s teamwork, communication, dedication, perseverance, taking your hard knocks, and it’s all through sports. It’s such a great social thing, it’s a just microcosm of life is what sports is all about. I’ve certainly had a beautiful life because of it and that’s why this campaign is so beautiful and it’s a simple way for people to get involved and support something that’s so healthy. P&G is doing a great job with the Youth Sports fund and they’re raising the next generation of Olympic hopefuls.
What are you looking forward to most about the London Games?
I’m looking forward to everything but what I’m most looking forward to is winning. I want to do it as a mom, that to me will be such an accomplishment. My life is just so much richer and beautiful since becoming a mom and I want it all. I want to be the best in my field. And that to me is winning a gold medal in London and that’s what I’m going for. Representing Team USA will be so special so I want to go and win with Misty.
Are your kids motivating you when you’re out there competing?
It’s interesting because half of me wants to just focus on volleyball but the other half is like, gosh, you’re wasting all this inspiration. So my boys are with me every single second I’m out there. They are my heart and soul and they are with me every single day, I miss them when I’m not with them. And in London they’re on my team, they are going to be wearing their Team USA diapers. They are very patriotic, they’ll be wearing their own sports performance equipment which is their Pampers, and I’ll be wearing my bikinis and together we’re gonna do it.
You reunited with your playing partner after taking two years off. Has it been difficult to get that chemistry back?
Last year was our first year back after two years off and in some ways, it was like riding a bike. We mesh well, we’re on the same page, all of the intangibles were there. But the actual rhythm of our game was off. That’s two years off, that’s the game evolving in those two years and it was really challenging and we lost a lot of close matches last year whereas before we would have won and I attribute it to our timing and our rhythm. This year, having a full off-season, we’re really confident going into this season. We’re getting better every single day. Our goal is to perform at a consistently high level which we’re working towards. We’re on the same page, we respect each other, we’re in this for the long haul and I think that’s going to allow us to get to the glory land, which is the gold medal in London.
New rules have afforded Olympic beach volleyball players the option of adding shorts and shirts to their competitive wardrobe. What are your thoughts on the new rule? Will you still compete in a bikini?
I think there’s absolutely logic behind choosing a bikini for beach volleyball. We’re in really hot temperatures, we’re rolling around, diving, jumping, everything in the sand, and you don’t want a lot of clothes on you. Even though this rule is in effect and I think it’s a fantastic rule, it has opened up doors to cultures and religious groups that might overlook beach volleyball because of the uniform, it’s not going to change my uniform. I work really hard with my sponsor, Oakley, to get a really sporty, well-fitting, functional bikini out there. I never feel degraded, I feel like it’s enhancing my performance. We’ve been asked pretty aggressively, why would you ever choose to wear a bikini and it makes sense. It’s not as dramatic, but it would be like asking a swimmer to swim with shorts and a shirt on. It gets in the way. I’m really grateful for my uniform, I’m really comfortable in it at this point and again, I’m out there being an athlete, I’m not out there being a sex symbol. I think it’s a beautiful thing, the body in motion, and it works.