Oct. 25, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford alum Kerri Walsh ('00) has seen success on the volleyball court at every level of the game. Whether indoors or on the beach, Walsh has shined.
The Saratoga, Calif., native was the fourth four-time AVCA All-American in Stanford history, competing for the Cardinal from 1996-99. She helped guide Stanford to a pair of NCAA titles in 1996 and 1997, as well as three trips to the Final Four and four Pac-10 Conference championships.
Among her many individual accolades, Walsh began her career on The Farm as the 1996 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and the NCAA Tournament MVP. Additionally, she was tabbed the Pac-10 Player of the Year twice and was named the Co-National Player of the Year in 1999.
Post Stanford, Walsh went on to play on the U.S. indoor team in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. She then made the move to the beach for the 2004 Games in Athlens and claimed the first U.S. gold medal in the history of the sport with partner Misty May-Treanor. The pair made a dominant run through the 2008 Games in Beijing to become the first beach team, men or women, to defend a gold medal.
GoStanford.com recently caught up with Walsh to get her thoughts on her selection to Stanford's Athletic Hall of Fame, her favorite memories from her playing days on The Farm and more.
What are your thoughts about being selected to Stanford's Athletic Hall of Fame?
It is obviously a huge honor. Not only do I feel honored to be nominated into the hall, but also to be inducted with such an accomplished group of people. They are a special group and they mean a lot to me.
What does Stanford mean to you?
Stanford was my first dream come true! It set a standard in my life for how I wanted to go about things and excel in all that I do. In a nutshell - Stanford means excellence.
You are being inducted into the Hall of Fame with your former coach, Don Shaw. What was it like playing for Coach Shaw at Stanford?
You won NCAA Championships as a freshman and sophomore, how did the upperclassmen, such as Lisa Sharpley and Kristin Folkl, help you during those seasons?
I loved playing for Don. He always told me three key things: prepare well, work hard, and give no excuses. I really came to appreciate that philosophy. He took a lot of pride in what he did and that rubbed off on his athletes. I will forever be grateful for those four years. Even now, I bring him on the court with me whenever possible.
The upperclassmen during my first years were amazing. Not only were Lisa and Kristen amazing, but so were all of the upperclassmen. They taught me how to work hard while balancing school and volleyball. They basically taught me how to do things right. Lisa, to me is the best setter I have ever played for and probably the best setter in the world. I learned so much from her and enjoyed every minute of it. Kristen was such a phenomenal competitor and athlete. She was so physical and so sweet - I learned so much practicing with her and against her every day.
Do you have a favorite memory during your time at Stanford, either on or off the court?
My favorite memory actually coincides with my least favorite. When all of my friends and family were out in Hawaii with us for my last game - we lost. Even though I lost my final game at Stanford the camaraderie, family and love we had on that squad was something special that I will always cherish.
What were some of the traditions on the team when you played?
We had a pregame stomp in the locker room and a pregame bounce outside on the floor. The bounce on the court was my favorite ritual.
You competed for the U.S. in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, what do you remember about those Games?
I remember being so honored to be there. The thing that stands out most to me was achieving my personal best as well as gathering with all the U.S. athletes to walk down the tunnel. I saw so many people that I had idolized for so long. Misty was my favorite of all time - I was so excited. After seeing all of the athletes I just thought to myself - We're here, let's do this!
What was it like transitioning to beach volleyball? What were some of the challenges you faced?
The transition is crumbling to say the least. I came from a place where I was pretty comfortable and became a fish out of water. I came close to giving up my bikini, but my family pushed me through it. The sand, wind, sun - everything you don't have indoors. These things effect timing, touch, and the way you move. Having patience was also difficult. I hated being terrible, but it made me work really hard not to be. You have to start somewhere!
You and your partner, Misty May-Treanor, became the first beach team to defend a gold medal. What was it like to defeat the top-seeded Chinese team in front of its home crowd?
It was amazing - exactly what you would expect. We were playing in front of over 10,000 people and the majority of them were Chinese fans. They were known as the second-best team in the world at the time. All of the pieces of this match were so fun. It was raining - dramatic. I wouldn't have asked for any different matchup. The top-seeded team on their home turf with so many teams behind them. It was truly incredible.
What was it like competing against Shaquille O'Neal for his reality show Shaq Vs.? Were you surprised when he replaced his partner with your husband for the second set?
It was hilarious the entire time. It was really a special treat. He was such a trooper- he went out there and worked hard and it was extremely intimidating. As far as my husband, I was surprised but it was definitely really fun. It was fun to be on the opposite side of the net with Casey on TV. The whole situation was hilarious. I loved it, Casey loved it, but Misty and I won. I would do it again in a heartbeat - he was awesome.
Where is home for you now, and how often do you make it back to Stanford?
My home is in Manhattan Beach with my family. I rarely, rarely get back to Stanford. I was there last spring for the first time in a couple of years which was incredible! I am really looking forward to the Hall of Fame weekend. I am also extremely excited for the Stanford-Oregon game, which might be the best college game of the year!