Beach volleyball great May-Treanor to retire after Olympics

Posted: June 26, 2012

In seven weeks, Misty May-Treanor will move. She will move past her 13 years as a pro volleyball player, past the injuries to her knee and abs and Achilles tendon, past the weekend tournaments in Brooklyn and Brazil and Beijing.

She will move away from the cameras, both the ones that captured her on talk-show couches and the ones that snapped eyebrow-arching photos of her with George W. Bush. In seven weeks, she will move beyond the two (and counting?) gold medals.

After the London Olympics this August, May-Treanor will retire from international competition, she said in a phone interview Tuesday. No woman has won more beach volleyball matches. Will she miss it?

"Honestly, I don't think so," she said. "I've made a lot of friends doing this. But a lot of those friends don't play anymore. The travel gets tiring. I'll miss some of the different people, and I'll miss some other parts. But I'm ready to move on."

May-Treanor is 34 years old. She'll turn 35 during the Olympics. She wants to do other things with her life, she said, things she hasn't been able to do since joining the Association of Volleyball Professionals in 1999.

She wants to have children, and she wants to travel with her husband, Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Matt Treanor. She said her career gave her a chance to see some of the world - kind of. But too often, her days in other countries are scheduled, and boring: Wake up in the hotel, go to the arena, drive back to the hotel, repeat the next day. She has already booked a trip to Las Vegas for after the Olympics.

She decided to retire last year.

"There's more to life than volleyball," she said. "It's time for me to step away."

May-Treanor and her partner, Kerri Walsh, will be challenged at this year's Games. After the 2008 Olympics, the two didn't play together again until 2011.

First, May-Treanor suffered a tear to the Achilles tendon in her left leg while training for Dancing With the Stars. She sat out for about a year. Then, Walsh became pregnant with her second child. She took 2010 off.

So they came back together last year, and they found other faces looking at them through the net. The competition changed. May-Treanor and Walsh were out of sync, and out of shape. Still, they found their rhythm soon enough, and they ended last year ranked No. 2 in the world.

May-Treanor said she changed her playing style after the Achilles injury. She had to; she can't jump as high, and her right leg becomes sore quicker because she leans on it more than she does her left.

"The great thing about your body is it learns to take over, to make up for that," she said. "Different areas and other muscles can make up the difference."

This fall, May-Treanor said, she will receive her master's in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University in Irvine, Calif. She needs time away, but eventually the game will pull her back.

She wants to coach indoor volleyball at a junior college - less time required than a big school, she said. And there, at some small school, she will be able to talk to some younger women about the importance of Title IX, which lawmakers passed 40 years ago.

"I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing without the women before me," said May-Treanor, who has earned $2.1 million playing volleyball, not including endorsements. "Women like Billy Jean King were a big inspiration for me."

The law paved a path for May-Treanor's career. A path she followed toward two gold medals, a path she intends to leave.


Contact staff writer Tyler Jett

at tjett@philly.com.

Fans can win the opportunity to spend a day training with Misty May-Treanor by clicking here.

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