Kerri Walsh Jennings is a three-time gold medalist in Olympic beach volleyball. Most consider Walsh Jennings and her former partner, Misty May-Treanor, the best team of all time. Walsh Jennings is preparing to make another run at gold in 2016 with new partner April Scott. Walsh Jennings has the challenge of training while being the mom of three: Joey (almost 6), Sundance (almost 5) and Scout (just turned 2).
ThePostGame: Talk a little about what you're doing with Tempur-Pedic.
KERRI WALSH JENNINGS: I'm really part of this partnership simply because it’s so authentic. Their message is something that I absolutely aspire to live by and that's promoting the importance of sleep. With Mother’s Day coming up, it’s also celebrating the moms out there and expressing our gratitude for all those sleepless nights. We're hoping to remedy that with a mattress by Tempur-Pedic. I'm just really proud to be with them because as an athlete, my life is I'm an athlete and a mommy. I'm trying to be the best on and off the court. A good night’s sleep is absolutely imperative to what I’m doing. Body, mind and spirit. I don't run very well when I don't have a good night's sleep. And so I'm really proud of this partnership. We’re promoting the importance of those moments of sleep that you can get with Tempur-Pedic.
TPG: I know Tempur-Pedic has put together a video promotion. What are they doing with that?
WALSH JENNINGS: The video is amazing and hopefully you can check it out at tempurpedic.com. I have seen it a couple times and I cry every time. They surprise the moms. They come in saying that they will be interviewed for a quiz show and they flip the show and it comes out the family members talking about how great they are as mothers and how they are appreciated. And at the end of it each mom is gifted with a Tempur-Pedic bed. The raw emotion and the appreciation of the mothers who are recognized for their love and their hard work and their sacrifice. It's really wonderful. The message at the end that the gift of sleep is such a beautiful gift. It's the gift of wellness and health at the end of the day and I think it really resonates with everybody.
TPG: Transitioning to you, how do you balance taking care of your kids and training and preparing for the next Olympics?
WALSH JENNINGS: I want this with all my heart. My heart is in it as a mommy. Obviously, being a mother is my hardest battle and I love it with all my heart. It inspires me. Combine that with the love I have for my career, which I've had since I was 10 years old. I love the game of volleyball. I'm truly living a blessed life. I'm surrounded by amazing partners, Tempur-Pedic being one of them, who have helped me chase my dreams and support my dreams. My husband is the ultimate team player and partner in that we are both chasing these huge dreams, we're doing together alongside our kids. Our support system outside of our family is beautiful as well. It’s just really wonderful and we only aspire for balance. I feel like if your heart is taken care of, your body is taken care of, your mind is at ease, you'll be to handle the obstacles that come at you in life. I feel like I'm so rich in those areas.
TPG: With three young kids, how many sleepless nights have you had over the last few years?
WALSH JENNINGS: I can't even begin to tell you. The saga of my sleepless nights. It's mostly just interrupted sleeps, but that's why it’s so important to have an amazing mattress and that’s why I’m such a big advocate for the Tempur-Pedic. If you have a beautiful bed that's going to help you get a good night’s sleep, even it’s a solid four hours, that’s really important. My life as a mommy is absolutely full of interrupted nights of sleep and short nights of sleep. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. This partnership with Tempur-Pedic has allowed the sleep I do get to be great.
TPG: What is your ideal Mother's Day?
WALSH JENNINGS: In all honesty, I would love to sleep in. It's my ultimate guilty pleasure. Nine o'clock would be a dream. Anything after that, I just want to be with my family. I travel so much for my job, I'm away from home too much and I can't bring my kids with my everywhere. I just want to come with me and enjoy our little community and just hang out. And I definitely want to reach out to my mom. Tempur-Pedic is actually gifting my mother a Tempur-Flex mattress so on Sunday I can give her a call and talk with her and see her face. Hopefully it'll be a re-creation of the videos that Tempur-Pedic made so I can see some happy tears and some love to my mom.
TPG: How has your mom helped you grow to the person you are today?
WALSH JENNINGS: My mom is literally my hero. I'm surrounded by such inspiring, empowered people and my mom is at the top of the list. She’s like an angel on Earth. … She’s my ultimate role model, but like so many moms out there, and crazed parents, she certainly doesn’t get enough sleep, so this is a gift that I'm really glad to give to her. A gift a sleep. I can’t begin to say enough. Yesterday, this is how rad she is. She threw the first pitch out at the San Francisco Giants ballpark. She’s still an athlete and still having so much fun with her life and taking care of her family. That sums up my mom.
TPG: What did your mom teach you about having kids of your own?
WALSH JENNINGS: She showed me the way. My mom is the ultimate role model in that she is one of the examples of how to be a great person, how to be a great mommy. She has and always will be my biggest advocate, my biggest fan and biggest supporter. Her faith in me is infinite. She’s also my toughest critic. She is always there for me and she’s very consistent with her love and her discipline and all these things. Everything that is required to be a parent, she was that. I'm 36 years old right now and she still cares for me like I'm a little girl and I definitely hope to do that for my kids.
TPG: Are you hoping to see your kids succeed in sports, or volleyball in general?
WALSH JENNINGS: Yeah, our oldest, Joey, just started taking volleyball lessons and it's the cutest thing in the world, which makes me really proud that our boy is getting into it as well. But ultimately, we absolutely want them to play sports and be on a team because you learn so much through sports with teamwork and all that. If that doesn't suit them, to be in a band or to be in some type of club where they are interacting with each other and being challenged. I think that’s the most important thing. I can't wait to see where their interests take them.
TPG: You played with teammates who have had children. Do they deal with the same struggles? Do you talk about it and help each other?
WALSH JENNINGS: Yeah. I feel like the challenges that I face as a parent are so similar and so universal to all the parents out there. It's the work, it’s the stress, it’s the worry about paying for your kids' school and are they in the right school and eating well enough? I feel like it's a universal thing. And so girls are really good at commiserating. We're good at talking to each other and leaning on each other. My girlfriends have some of the same parental strategies as me. My husband has definitely been the biggest [supporter] for me, aside from my parents, in raising our kids and doing good on the same page and doing it right.
TPG: What would you tell any mom, Olympic athlete or not, that is going through the struggle of raising kids?
WALSH JENNINGS: I would say take a deep breath and always focus on the positive. I feel like if you bring gratitude to any situation then that situation becomes manageable. In all honesty, even if this weren't about my partnership with Tempur-Pedic, I'd say take care of yourself and get good sleep. I feel like when you get a good night’s sleep you're fortified to the day’s challenges and the challenges of raising your kids. It's a simple thing in our control. There's really no excuse for not taking the bull by the horns in terms of sleep. At least get quality sleep when you’re getting it. That doesn’t necessarily mean quantity, but quality. And Tempur-Pedic is the best way to go with that.
TPG: How excited are you for 2016?
WALSH JENNINGS: I don't have the words. The Olympic qualifying season is here and has begun. I love this time where you're aspiring to become an Olympian and after that you're aspiring to be a gold medal hopeful. I'm having some much fun. [April Scott] and I have amazing coaches and trainers and amazing support systems so we're going for gold and we have a long road ahead of us. We’re excited about the challenges and we’re excited to make our dreams come true.