We met two-time Olympic Gold Medal beach volleyball star Misty May Treanor when she was in Manahttan recently. Her book “Misty: Digging Deep in Volleyball and Life” by Misty May-Treanor and Jill Lieber Steeg (Scribner) was released in June.
What inspired you to start playing volleyball?
I grew up with both parents that are athletes. My mom was a tennis player and then when she met my dad she started playing volleyball. My dad was a volleyball player. They let me play every sport. Volleyball was something that I kind of later gravitated towards. But I grew up watching the best players thinking could I be like them someday? Hard work and dedication — here I am now.
What was it like working with the cast of “Dancing With the Stars”?
I want to go back on that show. I was only on there two weeks. I enjoyed the cast, getting all the makeup, the hair done, the costumes were fantastic. But anytime I have a chance I keep in touch with some of them. But it was a great opportunity.
What is the worst injury you had?
It had to be the Achilles tendon that I had on “Dancing with the Stars.” I had a pretty bad knee injury in college that I had operated on. My first year with Kerri and that was easier rehab, but the Achilles tendon I had to learn how to walk again, run again, I’m still working on the strength and that took about a year. So that was a long one. I don’t wish upon anybody.
What was it like working with the “Wizards of Waverly Place” cast?
Selena was a joy to work with and the whole cast was fun and that was by far one of the best shows I’ve been on. And I would love the chance to go back again. But I watch that show. I do. I even saw the movie. It’s fun.
Did you have to do any training for the Olympics and if so, what?
My whole life has been training for the Olympics. When I made the decision in ’99 to go to the beach I thought I’d be playing indoors a lot longer. So I thought I’d be making an indoor run. I went out to the beach in ’99 and from that point on it was everything I could put into making that dream come true. Every time I’m in the gym lifting, every time I step on the court, everything was geared for it, the Olympics. Lot of sweat, lot of tears, lot of sacrifice.
Will you be competing in the next Olympics?
I don’t know if I’ll be competing in the next Olympics. It’s still 2010 to me. I can only think so far ahead. I’ve accomplished a lot in the career that I’ve had. 2012 is it possible for me to go to that Olympics and to do all, probably, but again with your question it takes a lot of sacrifice. I’ve had to sacrifice being away from family . . . As far as the next Olympics it’s hard to say. If I see you again in 2012 you can ask me and we’ll see what the answer will be.
When you first started were you good with volleyball?
No. I think it’s something just like everything, even school work, you have to practice to get better and I put a lot of time into practicing to become the player I am. I played soccer. I know you played soccer. And the same thing, the more you practice the better you’ll become. No I wasn’t good when I first started, but persevered and worked hard.
Do you plan to write any other books in the future?
I’ll have to see. You never know what’s going to present itself in my life. Hopefully, that would be nice to write another chapter. I want to have a family, back to school for my masters, to coach and teach. I have other clinics going on. Who knows if there’s another gold medal? I’m not sure yet. So it would be interesting. It was a long process. It was difficult, but at the same time I think it will be very rewarding.
In the future would you want your children to be involved in volleyball?
When I have kids I will let them do anything they want to. You got to let your kids decide and it was — volleyball was just something I gravitated towards. My Mom’s side was all tennis. So I always wondered oh, if I stuck with tennis, where would I be? Maybe I would retire early, I don’t know. It’s tough because you don’t want to pressure somebody into something. I will let them decide what they want to do. Even if they don’t want to play sports, then they don’t have to play sports.
What kind of student were you in school and what was your favorite subject?
I would like to say I was a very good student, but I like to procrastinate a lot. Not good, but I always got fairly good grades. Could I push myself harder, probably. But I was off doing lots of different sports. So now when I’m back in school I appreciate it a lot more than I was doing it. I really like Science, I like Biology. And that’s why I thought marine biologist, or vet, or zookeeper. I like animals. And I also like lunch. Lunch was good. I really like the Sciences.
Would you rather play on the sand or indoors?
Even though they’re the same skill they’re two different strategies, two different games. I miss the team that I had in college, playing with a big group and getting to know so many different women on the indoor side, but it’s nice the freedom you have on the beach because we’re our own boss. So we could say what our practice schedule is, when we want to compete, or where we want to compete, when we want to take time off. So it’s two different games. You are more involved in the beach game. You get to touch the ball a lot more than the indoor game. Because the indoor game maybe you happen to be in a rotation where you don’t get to touch the ball that much or the ball is not hit to you. So there’s a little more involvement on the sand. But I like them both. It’s easier on your body — the beach. So maybe because I’m old now, 32, I would say sand is easier on the body.
How many places have you been to and where was your favorite place to play?
I’m on my second passport. I had to get extra pages put in my passport. I went through it. I’ve been to several different countries. And so far, this year, I’ve been to Brazil, Italy, China and Russia. I will be leaving at the end of this week to go to Norway and Switzerland and we still have more international tournaments. Some of my favorite stops internationally Australia, the Sydney 2000 games, but I didn’t get to see much. You may think my life that traveling is glamorous when I compete I’m only there to compete. I don’t have a lot of time to sightsee. Australia is definitely a place I would like to go back to. I like Austria and Switzerland.
Do you play other sports competitively?
Not so much competitively any more. I did play soccer till my junior in high school. Then I had to decide going into college; I did track my freshman year in college. But now when I train, I’ll train on the track. I have a coach that works with me so I do a lot of running. Nat and I, my husband will go out there and play tennis every now and then and I play golf. I’m taking up golf. It’s a very humbling game. Very difficult, but it’s fun. I will do anything. I went bowling in Russia. The competitive juices start to run when I step on any kind of court. But I have fun. I love cross training and different things.
What would you consider being the best part of being able to compete in the Olympics?
I think some of the best perks of competing in the Olympics, one is I get to talk to you ladies. If I wasn’t an Olympic champion, I don’t think you’d be finding me on the street wanting to ask me questions. So I think being able to talk to young kids, share my medals with different people. We get very cool clothes. We get good goodie bags at the Olympics. But I think also it’s an opportunity to see different people from different cultures, different walks of life. That’s what makes it unique. Different, if you watch the opening ceremonies seeing the different traditional outfits different countries have. Knowing that we’re all people, that’s the one thing we have in common that we all have different traditions.
What do you like to drink during your competition?
I like to drink water. It depends on where I am because some places are hotter than others. So I tend to drink more in certain competitions than I do at times. But I drink water, I drink Gatorade. And then after I’m done for the day I like to have my cup of coffee.
How does it feel to be an Olympic champion?
To be an Olympic champion brings on a whole different thing as an athlete. Of course, we try to be the best people we can, we don’t sign up when I’m 5 I don’t say hey, I’m going to be a role model. Do this. But I enjoy and take on the mentoring aspect being a role model. But being an Olympic champion is something that nobody can take away from me. And it’s something that not very many people have the opportunity to be able to do. So whenever I step on the court during those times that what I have to remember is I’m not only representing myself, but I’m representing the country, I’m representing all the people that can’t be in my spot.
Do you get nervous before big competitions?
Do I have to tell you because are any of my opponents going to see this? No. I think everybody gets nervous before you go into competitions. I think by being nervous means that you’re ready. If I wasn’t nervous I would think that something would be wrong. Yeah, I get nervous. I think it’s natural to be nervous. Once the whistle blows and the games start you kind of forget everything that’s going on around you. I think the more you talk especially in our sport, the more you talk with your teammate and the nervousness kind of gets pushed to the side.
Do you have any advice for people out there who enjoy playing volleyball?
My advice is to play as much as you can. Play every position. Are you learning every position? That’s the best way of doing it. But I think whatever you want to do whether it’s doctor, lawyer, be a kid now. But once you decide if you put your heart and soul into what you want, don’t let anybody pull you down. You can accomplish anything. There’s going to be bumps in the road, but it’s how you overcome them, what you can do to get there. But I think with volleyball, you got to work hard than the person next to you.