Role: Beach volleyball player; teams with Kerri Walsh Jennings in national and international competition.
Bio: A graduate of Newport Harbor High, where she won indoor volleyball state championships in 1998 and 1999. Played at USC, winning indoor national championships in 2002 and 2003. As a beach volleyball player, with former playing partner Jennifer Kessy, won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics the 2009 FIVB World Championship.
Why she’s an influencer: Last year, she teamed with three-time gold medal winner Walsh Jennings to form the top team in the United States. This year, they finished fourth in the FIVB world rankings and swept all seven events they played on the American (AVP) tour.
Biggest challenge: Living up to the standard of Walsh Jennings’ previous partner, gold medalist Misty May-Treanor.
Work philosophy: Like many athletes, pushing limits is part of Ross’ mindset: “You have to … push yourself to be uncomfortable, so you can grow and gain knowledge and lessons from mistakes and triumphs.”
Thoughts on leadership: Leadership in a beach volleyball pair can be a tricky thing, especially when your partner is a three-time gold medalist. Still, Ross has to step in on occasion. “You can’t have one person be the leader all the time,” Ross said. “She has strengths; I have strengths.”
Inspiration: Her parents, Glen and Margie, still drive Ross. Margie died of breast cancer while Ross was still in college. “I get strength remembering how she battled back and how hard that was,” Ross said. “What happens on the volleyball court doesn’t come close.”
Can’t do without: Her partner, Walsh Jennings, who is considered by many to be the best women’s beach volleyball player ever.
What’s next: Next season’s AVP and World tours and continuing to prepare for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
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