After coming away with a bronze medal at the Rio Games alongside Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross is readying for another attempt at gold in Tokyo. This time, though, Ross will be partnered with Alix Klineman. At 38 years old, Ross is hopeful she'll finally be able to capture the Olympic title that eluded her in both London and Rio.
As part of our preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we found out about April Ross:
Tell us about your family.
I have a sister I am very close with. She played soccer through college and we played soccer together growing up with my dad as the coach. My dad lives a mile one way from me and my sister a mile the other. My mom passed away from breast cancer when I was in college. I now have a step mom and four step siblings.
Who do you live with?
I live with two male volleyball players, one on the indoor national team (Carson Clark) and one transitioning from playing professionally indoor to the beach game (Kyle Friend). My boyfriend also spends a lot of time at the house. It’s a real life version of the New Girl TV show.
Where does your family come from?
We have roots in Costa Mesa. My maternal grandfather was the original owner of my childhood home. But my paternal grandmother was from Italy and my grandfather from Poland.
Parent influence on athletic career?
My dad was my coach in soccer and basketball growing up and my mentor during volleyball. He is the one I credit for my work ethic and in large part my mentality. My mom was my emotional support system.
How much time do you train?
I wake up at 6, make breakfast, go get coffee and hit the road by 7/7:30. I have practice at 9:30 in LA, an hour-and-a-half drive away. I practice on the beach for two hours, do sand conditioning afterwards, grab lunch at a local shop and then head to the USAV gym. I lift for two hours or so, get PT for an hour and watch video for an hour. Then I drive home in rush hour traffic for another 1.5 hours or more. I get home around 6, make dinner, walk my dog, say hi to my niece and nephew and go to bed.
What's your favorite workout?
Bikram yoga is my favorite workout.
What's the most grueling workout you've ever done?
Sand Dune hill in Manhattan Beach. It’s a mountain made of sand and you can walk, run or sprint up it. It’s famous.
I try to follow a paleo, low carb kind of diet with lots of whole foods and eating plant based where possible. For example, my lunch might be a huge salad with tons of veggies and depending on the day I throw in some chicken breast. I usually have a cheat day or cheat meal during the week and that will normally involve orange ricotta hot cakes from Haute Cakes.
Earliest memory of volleyball?
My earliest memory is of indoor tryouts in 7th grade, my first time ever trying to play volleyball, and I couldn’t serve the ball over the net. I still thought I made the team (even though I didn’t travel and didn’t have a uniform). Would have sworn by it until a few years ago my dad found my 7th grade year book and I wasn't in the team photo! I fell in love with volleyball though because of the community and friends I made in the sport, and beach volleyball because of the opportunity to travel and live a pretty great lifestyle!
Specific breakthrough moment?
When I won my first grand slam internationally that I got into I knew that I could do something in the sport and that there could be a future for me.
Earliest memory of watching the Olympics?
My earliest memory is of Kerri Strug on the vault when she hurt her ankle and still completed her turn. I didn’t really think I’d ever become an Olympian myself though.
Play any other sports?
I snowboard every winter. I’m not sure how it helps me other than it refreshes my mind, it’s so different from beach volleyball. Only similarity is the uncertain surface!
Which Winter Olympic event would you like to try?
Do you have any pets?
I have a dog. Her name is Rooney, but we call her Roo. She is a bull mastiff and German Shepard. She is super goofy and big and still a puppy.
Do you collect anything?
I collect coffee mugs from places I travel, I have a ton. I have too many mugs so now I collect art from my travels.
What would you be doing if not an athlete?
I like to think I’d be in sports marketing or law.
Advice you'd give a young player?
Work hard and enjoy the journey.