April Ross has a Gatorade Player of the Year award, two NCAA titles, an AVP Rookie of the Year Award and an Olympic silver medal to her name. At age 34, her résumé is among the best in the world. But she will be under more scrutiny than any other time in her career when beach volleyball play begins in Rio next week.
After Misty May-Treanor's 2012 retirement, Ross took over as Kerri Walsh Jennings' partner on the United States' top pairing. May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings won three straight Olympic gold medals from 2004-2012.
Get to know Ross, who laughs at Anna Kendrick's jokes, had a crush on Val Kilmer and drives an hour and a half to practice.
-- The band I listen to but do not tell anyone about is One Direction.
-- The best advice I've ever received is to work hard.
-- The best movie of all time is Anchorman.
-- The best part about being an Olympian is representing everyone who has supported you for so long.
-- My biggest fear is ... the only fear is fear itself so I don't really have one of those.
-- My biggest superstition is…I worked really hard to get rid of all of my superstitions so I don't really have any superstitions either.
-- My all-time celebrity crush is Val Kilmer like 20 years ago.
-- When I was a kid, I didn't collect anything but I collect coffee mugs now from everywhere I travel to, so I have like 20 of them.
-- If I could compete against any athlete ever, in my sport, it would be ... well, I got to compete against Kerri and Misty [May-Treanor] and I think that would be my answer. I can't think of anyone else.
-- My ideal date night ... it's like sitting on the couch with takeout and watching a sitcom with my husband.
-- My most embarrassing moment is ... I know I keep saying this, but I've worked really hard not to be embarrassed by stuff. I think if you're awkward, you just have to own it. I can actually think of one embarrassing moment, but it's really not appropriate to talk about it, so I am going to keep it to myself.
-- Name every pet you've ever had ... oh my gosh. We had like nine cats growing up, and I don't know if I can remember all of them. We had a dog, Mandy; and then a cat, Courtney; we had a cats, Mocca, Kalea, Millie, Rudabee. Oh my gosh, I can't remember any more of them. But my cat right now is Crater and she's amazing.
-- My favorite Olympic moment, for me, was beating the Brazilians, the No. 1 team in the world, last Olympics in the semifinals and making it to the gold medal match. Also, Kerri Strug nailing the vault with a broken ankle.
-- My favorite person I follow on Twitter is Anna Kendrick she's hilarious.
-- My first car was a Jeep -- a 1995 Jeep that was from my parents. I just bought my very first car and it's a Jeep too. Jeeps are rad.
-- What's a fun fact about me people don't know but should? I love snowboarding and I think I'm pretty good at it. I'm almost competitive level for sure.
-- My best Halloween costume was ... I was always playing volleyball over Halloween and never got to dress up, so I am really bad at Halloween.
-- How do you like your coffee? With a tiny bit of cream. I like espressos though, like Americanos with a little bit of cream.
-- True or false: I have had an imaginary friend. That is false.
-- Kittens or Puppies? They're both so adorable, but kittens because I love my cat so much. My cat does not love me though. She loves my husband, so I feel like I am just fighting for her attention all day, every day.
-- My most memorable moment in competition...I have so many but one really memorable moment was really early on in my career, coming in as the underdog and winning world championships with my then-partner Jen Kessy.
-- What is your morning ritual? Getting ready as fast as I can and getting out the door, so I can drive an hour and a half to practice in traffic on the 405.
-- My nickname is ... so the nickname everyone calls me is "Apes," which I like. My sister is trying really hard to get "Sand Panther" to catch on. She wants me to be the Sand Panther in beach volleyball.
-- If I was not Olympic athlete I would be…I don't know. I have no plan B.
-- The moment I knew I had what it took to be an Olympian was probably when I won my first international beach volleyball tournament back in 2007. We were the lowest-seeded team to ever win a grand slam and it was then when I was like okay, I might be able to do this.
-- The Olympian I really want to meet is… I've met some rad Olympians. I got to talk to Kobe Bryant as we were walking to the Opening Ceremony in London and he was just the raddest, so I’ll take any of them.
-- Describe your perfect PB&J...Uncrustables, whole wheat PB and raspberry.
-- Peanut butter: creamy or crunchy? If I am going to eat it out of the jar, then crunchy. It just has a little more to it.
-- The song that gets me pumped before competition is "Notorious Thugs" by The Notorious B.I.G. and Bone Thugs. But I also like T.I.'s "Topback." I just memorized all the lyrics to that, so I could rap it, but I am not going to.
-- My first stuffed animals were Cabbage Patch Kids. That's all I can remember. I don't remember any names.
-- If I could have a super power, I would want the super power where you're just the smartest person in the world and you're able to use all of your brain. That's the super power I want.
-- The coolest person to follow me on Twitter is the drummer from Imagine Dragons. I went to see them in Dublin and I think I tweeted something about it and the next thing I know, he's following me on Twitter, I don't know him, but I was so stoked to see that.
-- The weirdest thing I have seen in competition ... I just watched a video where probably the best male defensive player in the world did a cartwheel while digging a ball. That was pretty cool.
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