LAKE BUENA VISTA
The last time America got a good look at Misty May-Treanor, she and beach volleyball partner Kerri Walsh were celebrating their second Olympic gold medal in August in the Beijing sand. Weeks later, May-Treanor, 31, was all set for another stint in the spotlight on Dancing With the Stars. But in October, she ruptured her Achilles' tendon in rehearsals two weeks into the show and had to drop out. The injury is healing nicely, though May-Treanor is only midway through a recovery process that could take a year. Right now, the sport's winningest player with 103 tournament victories is enjoying some rare down time. In addition to appearing recently at Disney on behalf of ESPN, she has been able to hang out with husband Matt Treanor, a Detroit Tigers catcher training in Lakeland the past two months. Meanwhile, she's not ruling out a return shot at Dancing With the Stars — or a run at the 2012 Olympics. But May-Treanor says the London Games are too far down the road to contemplate. Starting a family ranks as her top priority — as it is with Walsh, seven months pregnant. The 5-foot-9 Coral Springs resident just wants to coach, stage clinics, perhaps get her master's (her B.A. is in kinesiology/fitness) and, for a change, take life as it comes.
Overall how's life been since you and Kerri won the gold?
It was a bit of a whirlwind after, which you can expect after any Olympics. What makes it hard is right after the Olympics we still have one more competition, whereas most other sports are done. We lost that one and another and the reason was we were just mentally and physically drained.
So you figured Dancing With the Stars would be a break?
I was having a great time but then I got hurt and had to have the surgery. So now it's just kind of nice now to have a break. I can see my husband and spend time with him in Lakeland, and be a fan of his.
After the Olympics, did people constantly stop you and congratulate you?
Some people did. I think Kerri has a more difficult time because she's so tall (6 feet 3). I can kind of blend in. But my goal is if I can inspire one person to do something, then I've done my job. And it's just fun to interact with people.
Do people do a double take when they see you, as if they're thinking, "I know her"?
If I was wearing my suit I think they'd say, "Hey Misty, what's going on?" But people see me with clothes on and don't always recognize me.
Did you and Kerri each feel it was time to take a break?
Well, both of us had decided that we wanted to start families. So Kerri obviously got started earlier. But I want to get healthy before starting.
Is your Achilles' doing okay?
It keeps getting stronger and stronger, but I still can't wear heels. I'm going to walk in a 5K, so that's good. I can work out, but I just can't run yet. It's coming along though."
What stands out to you most from this past Olympics?
Out of my three Olympics, this was my best experience. The reason was I took the blinders off and experienced the Games. I went to different venues and met different people, as opposed to being so focused on one sport. Just being able to enjoy the culture and the sights and sounds made it the best Olympics.
Do you ever hear from people telling you that you've influenced or inspired them?
You don't sign up by saying, "I'm going to be a role model." But it just comes with the territory. I've become mentors to young girls and Kerri and I just want people to go after their dreams, whatever they may be. Don't let somebody tell you that you can't, because you'll end up kicking yourself if you don't try. We want people to see that Kerri and I had a dream, and this is what we did to get there. So we want them to ask, "Why can't I?"
Who do you mentor?
You know what? I befriend people at airports. If people have questions, I'm glad to answer. I was asked to e-mail a girl who was in an accident and I wound up buying a ticket to Cincinnati to go visit her. People who watch me on TV say, "You look so serious" but I'm really not that way.
Dave Scheiber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8541.