Olympian speaks at SJU about volleyball

Olympian Misty May-Treanor has some fun with a fan at an appearance at St. John’s University. Photo by Christina Santucci

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By Ivan Pereira
Thursday, March 4, 2010

Misty May-Treanor is one of the top beach volleyball players in the world, but the Olympic gold medalist told St. John’s University she never feels like a superstar.

The 32-year-old athlete said that when she was growing up there was no professional women’s volleyball team in the United States, so she feels honored and privileged anytime she spikes the ball.

“If it wasn’t for the women before me, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

May-Treanor stressed the importance and relevance of women in athletics during the university’s annual Women in Sports Day Saturday. The Olympian said she has always used sports as a way to achieve her life goals both on and off the court.

The California native said she was able to make it to the top of the U.S. ranks, win two gold medals in the Athens and Beijing games and get a college education through her passion for the sport.

But getting there was not easy, according to May-Treanor.

When she made the indoor volleyball team at California State University, Long Beach, the coach changed her position to setter, the player who starts a round in volleyball. The athlete said she had trouble adjusting to the position, which she likened to being a quarterback on a football team.

“I got frustrated. I could not get the ball up,” she said.

But with practice and support from her friends and family, she was able to rebound and improve her skills and led the team to an NCAA championship in 1998. After May-Treanor decided to play beach volleyball professionally, she was hit with more hurdles to cross.

Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, just before she went to her first Olympic games, but the athlete persevered. Even though she did not win a medal, May-Treanor said she was proud her family was there to cheer her on every step of the way.

“I didn’t like being away from home, but my parents pushed me forward,” she said.

After injuring her knee in 2001 and losing her mother a year later, the athlete said she continued to get back on the beach and work hard. For her, it was the best way to relieve all of the mental and physical pain she had been feeling.

“My challenge was to get stronger and make the run,” she said.

Her hard work paid off and, along with her teammate, Kerri Walsh, she won her two back-to-back gold medals. May-Treanor urged St. John’s athletes to follow their dreams in sports because it would give them many advantages, such as college scholarships, travel and meeting new friends.

She also pointed out that their work touches the lives of young girls who also have athletic goals.

“The little girls just want to be like them,” May-Treanor said of the St. John’s women’s basketball team.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 4th, 2010 at 10:26 pm and is filed under Feature, Print Articles, Sports, TimesLedger. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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