This archived article was written by: Masi Steel
When beach volleyball is mentioned, the name Kerri Walsh-Jennings follows. With teammate Misty May-Treanor, they are considered the greatest beach volleyball team of all time.
Jennings earned gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012. She was born August 15, 1978, in Santa Clara, Calif. Her entire family was athletic; her father was a minor-league baseball player, her mother earned the Most Valuable Player two times at Santa Clara University.
Walsh-Jennings attended Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., and graduated in 1996. After graduating, she played indoor volleyball at Stanford University. While there, she became the second player in the NCAA history to be named First-Team All-American all four seasons she was there, in 1996-99. She gained a degree in American studies while also gaining a reputation for one of the best all-around collegiate volleyball players in history.
After college, Walsh-Jennings played on the U.S. National indoor volleyball team. They competed in the 2000 Olympic games, finishing just shy of a medal, taking fourth overall. She then turned her attention to beach volleyball and teamed up with May-Treanor, where they went on to be the best team to ever compete in beach volleyball.
The team was unstoppable for over a decade. In 2002, the team was named Federation Internationale de Volleyball tour champions, and in 2003, they were named the “Team of the Year.” Walsh-Jennings was also named the Association of Volleyball Players’ Best Offensive Player and MVP; she received the same honor again in 2004.
In 2004, the pair went to Athens, Greece, to compete in the Olympic games, with an 89-game-winning streak. They came away from the games with their first gold medal.
After the 2004 games, Walsh-Jennings married Casey Jennings, who is also a excellent beach-volleyball player. Walsh-Jennings gave birth to the couple’s first child in May 2009, Joseph Michael Jennings. The couple had their second child the following May (2010), named Sundance Thomas Jennings.
The team of Walsh-Jennings and May-Treanor continued to dominate the sport and headed to their next Olympics in 2008, in Beijing, China. The pair won their second gold medal and broke their own record by winning 113 matches in a row and 19-consecutive tournaments.
In 2011, Walsh-Jennings returned after giving birth to her second son. They earned a silver medal in the FIVB season opener and a gold medal in the Beijing Grand Slam, and finished second place at the World Championship. During the 2011 year, Walsh-Jennings accumulated 42-first-place wins internationally in her beach career.
For the 2012 Olympic games held in London, England, Walsh-Jennings and May-Treanor teamed back up to win their third consecutive gold medal. Walsh-Jennings then had her third child in 2013, a daughter, Scout Jennings.
Walsh-Jennings has been an inspiration to me during my volleyball career. She has achieved so much, but has not forgotten where she came from and what is important in life and family.