Up until a few months ago, I had not one misgiving that my name or any likeness should ever be associated with the Olympics. And given my mandatory adolescent P.E. affair with volleyball, I was firm that I never wanted that association again. (Y’all, volleyball is hard and I was not coordinated.) But—funny where life takes you—I can now say that I worked with an Olympic gold medalist. Dare I say we were colleagues for a few hours? I dare not.
E-mails exchanged, plans in motion and flights booked, (part of) Team P&N was off to the west coast in March to photograph Kerri Walsh Jennings for our May 2013 cover. No joke, I was apprehensive to have any sort of authority over anything concerning an American icon. I mean, kids look up to her, people cheer for her, you can buy a ball with her face on it in Target (disclaimer voice: and wherever sporting goods are sold). Granted, I wouldn’t command wardrobe changes with groans and lashings, but Kerri is like legit and stuff and I didn’t want to flub styling her as badly as I flubbed that semester in P.E. all those years ago.
I was nervous over nothing. Kerri Walsh Jennings is as nice as they’re made. She offered to try on just about every outfit, appeased me on kneeling each time I needed to tweak something and asked me about my life. I found myself speaking of extensive travels and my esteemed stint with the Peace Corps. Just kidding. But, when you’re conversing with a woman who has hopped continents to represent your country at the highest competitive level, not-meeting-the-right-guy struggles and moving into a new apartment are pretty tepid topics.
Anyhoos, she graciously agreed to sign autographs for coworkers (you’re welcome, Rachel Reiff Ellis) and genuinely seemed to enjoy the experience and this record of her third pregnancy. I feel like we captured a fraction of the beauty of this talented and warm lady in picture. Hope you guys enjoy and in the words of the Sharpie of Kerri, “Dream big.”