To be an athlete on the world stage is remarkably difficult, but to share your life with someone who also competes at the highest level — in another sport — only makes the complications of relationships that much more complicated.
May-Trainor took a few moments to speak with us last Tuesday about her career, her husband teaching her the ins-and-outs of baseball, dealing with defeat, their support of Josh Hamilton and that regardless of how hectic your schedule becomes — you have to take time to put the Two Back in Tuesdays.
Thanks for joining us, how are you doin’?
Good. Busy day today.
Your pairing with Kerri Walsh has been called “the greatest beach volleyball team of all time,” does such a statement humble you in reference to your place in history?
Oh gosh, I don’t even think about it, honestly, because we always strive to be better (laughs). We haven’t put a ceiling on our possibilities, so it’s very flattering but we still figure out ways to be better (laughs).
Not only are you and Walsh the first beach volleyball team to repeat as gold medalists, you are going for the hat trick this summer in London. What has your preparation for the 2012 Games entailed?
We’ve been there training, Kerri came off shoulder surgery in September, and we’re back in the sand and train every day in the weight room, on the track, so we’re doing every we can to be in the best shape heading into season and peaking at the right time.
Are you two looking at this, so far as the Olympics are concerned, your last go-’round, or do you not think in those terms, and plan to go as long as you can?
Oh gosh, probably more on my end (laughs). Every time I get on the beach, I try to think about what’s happening today, because our lives are so hectic, we can’t look too far into the future, we have to stay in the now. So it’s about taking one step at a time.
How did you meet Matt Treanor?
I actually met him at physical therapy, which is pretty funny. Every athlete’s off-season — physical therapy.
I went to Long Beach State, and when I was going to school there, and I’m pretty sure it’s still the same now, the baseball team and volleyball team were the two main sports, so you know about baseball just through their tradition, but I learned more about the game when I started dating Matt, and then being married. I never understood, I’d be like “Why don’t they just hit the ball every time?” or “Why are they bunting? I have no idea,” but he’d explain about advancing the runners and go over the scenarios, so I’ve learned more about the game, I really appreciate it and it’s fun, and when I have a chance to go watch him play I like to sit in different areas of the stadium to to get different perspectives.
Achieving the top of the mountain in your sport, but with Matt’s Texas Rangers club losing back-to-back World Series, what has that been like for you as a professional athlete, having a perspective on that others don’t possess, has that helped ease that pain for him due to your intimate knowledge of what it’s like to compete on the highest level?
I definitely think it helps being married to another professional athlete, who understands the sacrifice of what it takes, and the World Series from two years ago, with San Francisco and the Rangers, the Rangers came up pretty short, but this last one against St. Louis was pretty hard. Even from my biased point of view, it hit me pretty hard, and it hit Matt hard as I’m sure it did the rest of the team, as well. To see something so close and to fall short, but that’s the nature of sport, you’re going to have one winner and one loser, but one team came up short and we just wish it would have been the shoe on the other foot.
One more thing on that World Series, as you alluded to, it was a brutal way to lose a championship, but were you there for Game 6? Did you have a telephone conversation? What was his reaction to the game, did he look at it from the standpoint of the great game it was, or was he just downtrodden that the Rangers had lost the game?
I was at the game, so they had everyone in the tunnel right before, so you think “Okay, it’s gonna happen tonight,” but then it didn’t happen, so it was just kind of a shock to the system. But, what can you say after a game like that? It was an amazing Series, but I don’t think we talked baseball too much after that because it hurts. They tasted it, but just couldn’t close the door, and it’s something since that we’ve talked about, but back then I wasn’t going to ask a question because I know how it feels.
Relationships are not easy to begin with, but having not one, but two, professional athletes with demanding travel schedules has to be infinitely more difficult. How do you two make it work?
We train together, but even when we have time to train together, which now is getting less and less, because with our schedules I’m in the sand and now Matt is going to a field to hit, it limits the amount of time we can spend with each other. Usually in the late afternoons, we both get home and we’re very happy to have partnered with Stouffer’s and the campaign that they’re doing called Put the Two Back in Tuesdays, with a great meal called sautes for two. So Matt and I are able to reconnect through food at dinner, so it makes it nice that we’re able to put that time aside and catch up. And I know that there are other couples like us who have busy schedules, and I think it’s important for them to take an hour out of their busy schedules to just reconnect and talk. Family has to stick together with family, right? Plus it makes it easy because we love to be in the kitchen, too, so we get to make a meal and then carry it over to the dinner table and talk about our days.
Can you tell us a bit more about your work with Put the Two Back in Tuesdays? Was that something you were approached about or was it something that you were passionate about and wanted to look into? How did it come about?
Both Matt and I want to connect as much as we can because our seasons never run at the same time, like in 2007, from February to November, we saw each other for two weeks. That’s not a lot of time, so you take the opportunities when you can to spend with each other. And I’m a foodie, I love food, so I won’t turn down a meal, who does? No one turns down food, and my husband loves cooking so we enjoy those little times that we have together. So when we were approached by Stouffer’s about this, it was a no-brainer because we think that it’s important, not only for us, but to help spearhead this to get other couples to reconnect. It can be so easy to get lost with work and the craziness of every day life, but don’t forget to take time out.
And right now, anybody can log on to Stouffer’s Facebook page, because they have $10 worth of coupons to start reconnecting, so I encourage everyone to set some time aside, make Tuesday that day, get out there and reconnect with a loved one over dinner.
Speaking of couples, with Matt having played for the Rangers, does he have a close relationship with Josh Hamilton, are they friends outside of baseball?
Josh is a great guy, and his wife Katie, I think they are an awesome family, and I was fortunate enough to meet their daughters and help them out with volleyball, just to be involved with the family. I know Matt was as close as you can get, baseball is one of those sports where you don’t know where you’re going to be tomorrow, but he really respects Josh, and everybody hits bumps in the road, and I know Matt sent Josh a text the other day, and we support him 100%.
As you are more intimately involved with it, do you feel that, at times, the media simply overreacts, do you feel this is more of a personal, family issue than a baseball story?
I think everything we do is highlighted as athletes, and people take it out of context, but I think it just goes to show Matt’s support of Josh, that Josh is respected, not only in the baseball community but with his friends, people really care about him. Even though Matt doesn’t play on the team anymore, Matt’s right there for him, so I think it’s a testament to Josh that whether you’re his teammate now or in the past, someone is there to help you along if you need it.
Misty May-Treanor, we really appreciate you taking the time to join us.
Not a problem, thank you.
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