17 Aug Kerri Walsh Jennings – Team USA or #TeamHuman?
I was 13 years old and I had a new set of personal heroes : Kerri Walsh and Misty May. Their Olympic successes amazed me. These two kick-butt women couldn’t lose. I loved their chemistry as teammates and friends. I loved their incredible skill. They made me feel like I could do anything.
I never grew out of that admiration, and 12 years later, I am rekindling that feeling as I watch Kerri Walsh Jennings and her new partner April Ross dominate in Rio. (Misty May retired.) The 2016 Olympics awoke my adolescent self of so many year ago, with an added admiration garnered by maturity.
These women have taught me a lot about being a part of #TeamHuman:
Great talent is highlighted by teaming up with more great talent.
When you watch volleyball, you can’t help but notice how the pair of players become one. Each play needs both women backing the other up. Kerri might stop the ball from touching the sand, but she can only manage to get it towards April, most of the time. She needs April to finish the play by knocking the ball back over the net. Alone, neither player could blow us away with their skills like they can together.
Women are rock stars.
This year, Walsh-Jennings said, when reflecting on being pregnant while playing in the last Olympics, “I was born to make babies and play volleyball.”
When I heard that, something inside me celebrated. As a woman who wants to do awesome things in the world, but also thinks raising a family is awesome, I couldn’t help but smile. She reminded me that women have an Olympic capability to CREATE HUMANS and defy all odds in their career. I loved that she celebrates all aspects of her own womanhood – her motherhood and her athletic prowess. She figured out what was important to her, and made both of those things work in conjunction.
Success comes from celebrating wins and losses.
Like I said, I was always impressed by the chemistry between Kerri Walsh Jennings and her Olympic partners. This year, I noticed how Walsh Jennings and Ross always high five or hug when they score a point. They do the same when the other team scores too. (Look at second 48 of the video in that link to see this.) This is important. They celebrate their teamwork in success and failure. They never lose that respect for each other, no matter what happens on the court. This keeps them strong so that in the end, they almost always win, because they are connected on that level. The fact that they always use some sort of touch, hug or high five, to celebrate, is key. Physical touch leads to endorphins. Endorphins make them feel great, which means that they can play at their best.
Clearly, Kerri Walsh Jennings knows the recipe for being a Superwoman. Teamwork + confidence in yourself + celebrating everything = KICK BUTT VOLLEYBALL GAME.
Thanks for inspiring me, Ms. Walsh Jennings. I may never win a gold medal. But if I can do the equivalent in my own life, while being as kind and cool as you, I know that I will make a deep impact on my community and the people on my team.