Time Out with Jen Kessy
By Laura Ratto
Jen Kessy and April Ross are currently the #1 Internationally ranked beach volleyball team in the world. I was fortunate to catch-up with Jen on a phone interview for the few days that she and April were in the United States.
What do you think about traveling and being gone so often?
I love to travel and seeing new places. So much traveling really does take a toll on your body though. I try to not believe in jet lag. My family is really supportive and that helps.
How much time have you spent in the States vs. in Europe/Asia since the season began?
I average about 8 days a month in the US. We are here Thursday and leave Saturday and will be gone almost two months.
How do you stay connected with your family?
Everytime I leave I drop off my dog at my parent’s house. That way they won’t forget about me☺ . We Skype a lot and Viper (text for free internationally). My family watches the matches on the internet and I try to send them postcards whenever I can.
What is your travel must have?
My pillow – definitely. Traveling to such a variety of places, you never know about your accommodations. If I have my pillow, at least I know I’ll be able to sleep and be comfortable.
What was the best experience you have had so far this year with your travels?
When we were in Poland, we were about an hour from Auschwitz and a bunch of players got together and we went. I wouldn’t exactly say it was a “good” experience, but it was definitely something that I will never forget. We also got to tour around Rome this time which was great. We didn’t get to do it last year because we won, but this year we had a little more time.
What are some travel issues that you have encountered?
China and Russia are both tough places to travel. We have a hard time finding food to eat in China and we don’t always feel as secure as we would like in Russia. There are also the flights that get delayed, running from place to place to catch connecting flights, etc.
What is the worst airport you have encountered for that?
London is definitely the worst place as far as connecting flights go. All this traveling and sacrifice is to go towards your Olympic dreams.
What are your Olympic goals?
Win a medal….win a GOLD medal! It’s hard to look at that right now.
We don’t know if we’re going. I think we are seeded third in the world right now, and the competition is tough. We also don’t know how the seeding is going to work. There is a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know if they are doing the trials, or if the players are going to decide to play in the trials or not. USAV doesn’t have anything set-up. It’s discouraging, but we are trying hard not to think about it. We can’t worry about things that aren’t in our control. Right now we are trying to qualify [for the Olympics] through the FIVB ranking [top 16 go].
Does that mean you could be in the top 16 on the FIVB and still not get to go represent the USA?
With so much going on, how do you stay consistent on the road?
We take a day off after each event. We will go and sightsee or hang out. We use that day to reset and refocus. It also helps that my boyfriend is on the road with us and [April’s] husband is on the road.
What is one of your recent exciting moments on the court?
The World Championships in Rome. We played Misty and Kerri at 9:00PM in the quarterfinals and the venue was amazing! I was sitting there before we started playing and looking up at all the statues around the arena. It really was amazing and made me appreciate where I was. I had to refocus before we started playing, but I felt really fortunate to be there.
You have a long-time partnership with April. How do you keep it successful (one of hardest things in Beach Volleyball)?
April and I have been partners for 6 years. We keep it alive by winning. We have developed a lot of respect for each other.
What are your thoughts on The National Volleyball League?
I think it is really cool to know that there is a tour to come back to when we get back. Brad [April’s husband] played in the Preakness and enjoyed it. We are so excited to be able to come back and play at home. We are really looking forward to Miami and Long Beach! It will be nice for our families to be able to watch us in person.
What advice would you give to young athletes or anyone that wants to do what you are doing?
I think that hard work is really important, but you also have to have fun while you are doing it. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice. Another thing that I would want to say is to tell them don’t take yourself so seriously!
Any last comments?
See you in Miami!