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Q&A with beach volleyball star April Ross

2016 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Q&A with beach volleyball star April Ross

April Ross talks family, Olympic memories and hidden talents. 

Tell us a bit about your family.
[I was] raised by my mom and dad with my younger sister, Amy. My dad is a chiropractor and a soccer and lacrosse referee. My mom was stay at home, but was also diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in elementary school. She battled it for over fifteen years, was in remission three times, but each time it came back. She passed away my sophomore year in college and her memorial was on Sept 11, 2001.  It was, obviously, one of the most emotional days of my life. She was a warrior and put on the bravest and most positive face she could for me and my sister growing up, she still provides me with deep inspiration when the going gets tough and I will often tap my chest and point to the sky when I'm on the court to recognize I know she is still with me. My dad coached me and my sister for many years in soccer, we did really well and I credit him with my healthy competitive mentality, he was always super supportive and gave (and still gives) great advice. He's always led a very healthy lifestyle as well and is a big inspiration to me in that way. My sister was a stand out collegiate soccer player at Concordia University in Irvine. She and I are very very close, despite fighting constantly growing up. 

My husband I met playing beach volleyball, he is also a professional player. He is currently getting his masters in coaching and is an assistant with the Women's National Indoor team. We work really well together and I welcome any coaching tips he wants to give me. We have been married for five years. (I jumped in the pool in my wedding dress at our wedding, it was one of the funnest nights of my life.)

 How influential were your parents in your athletic career?
My parents sacrificed a lot to allow me to play sports. Club volleyball is not cheap and my sister also played club soccer. My mom, despite being sick, drove me and my sister to all of our practices and competitions, my dad was also present whenever he could be. My dad was my first coach, in soccer and basketball, and formed my competitive spirit, work ethic, and mentality, I credit him with a lot. My mom is the source of a lot of inspiration for me in the way that she battled cancer and never gave up.

Do you have pets?
We have a cat, an orange tabby runt named Critter. She is a huge part of our family and has an amazing personality. My husband rescued her from a shelter when we were dating and she is like our child. People ask us about her at get-togethers like she's our child. She hunts birds and brings them to us as gifts, it's gross, but it's her way of contributing to our family and we spoil her with treats. 

 Have you ever been seriously injured? What did it take for you to come back from that injury?
I played professionally indoor for three years after college, by the end of those three years I was so injured I couldn't raise my arm above my shoulder or jump off of my left knee. I was miserable and blamed volleyball for it so I actually quit. I had no intention of ever playing again, I got a hostessing job at the house of blues while I pondered my new path in life. I got surgery on my knee that actually didn't fix anything, it took about six months to recover, but it wasn't until after doing physical therapy for another few months that the pain finally went away. A while after that I was asked by a former teammate of mine from USC to play in a few beach volleyball tournaments with her so I thought, 'why not?', I gave it a try and fell in love with it so I stuck with it despite losing a bunch of money my first year on tour.

What is your earliest memory of watching the Olympics? Did you imagine yourself being in that position someday?
I never really imagined I'd be in the Olympics, it was never really a goal of mine, I just always wanted to be the best so I guess it kind of goes hand in hand. My earliest memories of watching the Olympics are of Kerri Strug and Kristi Yamaguchi.

Can you tell us something quirky about yourself that people would be amused to learn?
I consider myself a professional breakfaster, I can sit at breakfast, drink coffee and chat for hours, my current record is 5 1/2 hours. I also like to jump off of high things into water.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I can do the worm. I'm an amateur seamstress. I'm the worst singer you've ever heard.



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