Photo by Marc Serota for the National Volleyball League.
One of the most thrilling, coolest, and—yeah, we’ll say it—sexiest Olympic sports is Women’s Beach Volleyball.
That’s why we were pretty psyched to chat with Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, the U.S. women’s pair currently ranked fourth in the world. The duo is just a few months away from a berth to the Olympic Games in London and are preparing to dive into their competitive season. But remember how we told you about that Ludus Athletics Model Beach Volleyball Tournament in Miami this weekend? Yep, Kessy and Ross will be there. (Gah! Let’s all go!)
“We train really hard Monday through Friday and try to have a regular life on the weekends,” says Kessy. “So, we’ll be back to work on Monday. But in the meantime, the event gives us the chance to support the NVL (National Volleyball League). Plus, it’s in Miami and we like to enjoy the ride!”
And enjoy the ride they do. But it’s well-deserved: After just missing out on the 2008 Games in Beijing—only two teams per gender per country can go—Kessy and Ross have been preparing for years to represent the U.S., with Olympic veterans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Here, Kessy and Ross reveal a few of their essentials while they’re on-the-go…plus, we find out exactly why those volleyball bikini bottoms are so itty bitty.
FITNESS: What do you have to have when you’re traveling?
Ross: “The number one thing I have to have is a big water bottle. If I go half an hour without water, I tend to freak out.”
Kessy: “I have to have my pillow. My neck can’t take different hotels pillows every week, especially after you spend your days diving for the ball. Sleep is really important to us, being on the road a lot, so I also have a sleeping mask and earplugs."
FITNESS: Are there any beauty products you can’t live without, other than SPF?
Ross: “I hate the grimy buildup from the sweat and sand, so I bring exfoliating cleansers on the road to get the layers off. I also have some sun damage, so I use Kieh’s Spot Corrector. I usually carry Eucerin hand cream, too.”
Kessy: “I just got the Clarisonic (Skin Cleansing System), and talk about getting grime off your face!”
FITNESS: What are your favorite healthy snacks?
Ross: “When traveling, I usually pack a bunch of energy bars. And then in general, a snack I love is Greek yogurt with some cinnamon, sliced banana and chopped walnuts.”
Kessy: “I’ll pack protein mix with me, particularly because sometimes we can’t eat the meat in a foreign country. In general, I love ‘everything’ pretzel thins and hummus.”
FITNESS: Bear with us, because people can’t help but wonder. Can you explain why volleyball players wear such skimpy uniforms?
Kessy: "Volleyball players wear small bottoms because the bigger the bottoms, the more sand they hold, which negatively affects your performance. Also, a bigger suit means there’s more material moving up and around. But we’re both from California, so being in a bathing suit has never been uncomfortable for us."
FITNESS: Beach Volleyball has a bit of a reputation for being kind of a party scene. How do you handle those situations?
Ross: "It’s a really fun sport with really cool people, and you’re on the beach…so yeah, a party atmosphere can result. Every once in a while, we’ll go to a player party. But you won’t ever catch us out the night before we play. Anyone who advances to the next rounds in competition won’t be there, and we’re not going to let outside things distract us. The partying is for after we’re done."
FITNESS: What are you most looking forward to at the Olympics?
Kessy: "Besides winning an Olympic medal, the overall experience is what I’m most looking forward to. We were so close in 2008. I can’t wait to meet the other athletes, see the village and feel the spirit.”
Ross: "I definitely want to do well, but I want to experience being a part of Team USA. It’s not just volleyball. Every sport is there, and there is just so much respect and pride involved.”
For more on Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, visit KessyRoss.com. Live near Miami? Don’t miss the 2012 Ludus Athletics Model Beach Volleyball Tournament this weekend (March 31-April 1), where model agencies battle for South Beach supremacy!