(KRON) The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame has inducted its five newest members. Kerri Walsh Jennings is best known as being a member of the best beach volleyball duo of all time.
KRON4’s Gary Radnich talked with Walsh Jennings before the induction ceremony on April 24, 2017.
Walsh Jennings grew up in San Jose are credits her success to many people and the Bay Area “growing up in the family I was raised in, being surrounded by the Stanford, by the Giants, by the Warriors, by beautiful art and culture, all that is the Bay. So I feel like sustained excellence is a result of the people you surround yourself with.”
After graduating from Archbishop Mitty High School as the nation’s top recruit, it was on to Stanford where Walsh Jennings won two national titles playing indoor volleyball.
Then, it was time to conquer the beach and the world
From Athens to Beijing to London, the duo of her and Misty May Treanor crushed all contenders and walked away with gold in three straight Olympiads, never dropping a single match.
Her proudest moment isn’t standing atop the podium, but enduring the grind it takes to get there “winning in general, it’s such a beautiful thing. That’s always the goal, like we don’t need to, I don’t need to say that. I’m here to win. I feel like I’m paid to win. I feel like I’m capable of winning and doing that. But the important part of it is the journey and the process of becoming great and staying great and aligning yourself with people who bring out the best in you and who challenge you.”
And Walsh Jennings even savors the struggles. Last summer she suffered her first Olympic loss after she and April Ross fell to Brazil in the semifinals.
Yet her bronze medal from Rio provides golden motivation “it won’t haunt me forever. It will fuel me forever. Literally painful, like literal heartbreak and that’s the beauty of sports because there’s always another day to play. That doesn’t define me.
With four Olympic medals, Walsh Jennings stands alone as the most decorated beach volleyball player of all-time. And she’s not even close to calling it a career. Up next on her itinerary the Tokyo games in the summer of 2020 “I’m just not done. I said this after London, like I’m just not done yet and I’m not just done after rio. It’s not a redemption thing. It’s not, I’m gonna go prove myself. It’s there’s better in me and I wanna see what that looks like and I want to do it on the world stage.”
And she enters the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame as a champion whose legacy, like her medals, is timeless and pure “it took me a moment to be like, is this real? Having grown up in the Bay area and having lived in SoCal for so long, I’m still a tried and true NorCal girl. My heart bleeds for the bay and I grew up with Bay Area sports and Bay area athletes and so it makes me unimaginably proud and humbled to be inducted into this class.”