Off-Season Updates on our Olympic Hopefuls

With no update from the Olympic Committee on the Tokyo Olympics qualification timeline, the American hopefuls are doing their best to be ready. 

You follow them on Instagram, so you know a bit about what they’re doing. But there’s always more than shown on social media. Everyone is handling it differently. Melissa Humana-Paredes is staying in Canada until the New Year. Until then, she and partner Sarah Pavan (who’s staying in Hermosa Beach, CA) will hit the gym hard to prep for their preseason in January. 

Meanwhile, Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes practice three to four times a week. They see this time as a gift to work on the little things that sometimes are overlooked when a season is so jam-packed with travel and tournaments. They’re also in the gym working with specialists on nutrition, weight-training, and rehabilitation. 

I caught up with a few of our top teams to see how they’re staying in shape both physically and mentally this offseason to prepare for next year’s AVP Tour and Olympic qualification schedule. 


Stafford Slick: “Embodying the proverb ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, Billy has taken his leave of California in exchange for the potato plains of Idaho. He never returns my calls, and rarely texts…and true to form, I miss him more than ever. I like to imagine he’s sharpening his mental toughness daily, serving as his son Ketch’s Kindergarten virtual learning assistant. He’s almost certainly developed carpal tunnel syndrome as he finishes the sequels to his novel, Good Blood (bump sets only next year I guess…). Fortunately, he has his stellar better half Janelle to keep in check so he doesn’t completely let himself go! As for myself? I’ve spent the vast majority of 2020 corralling and caring for our two rascals! As they continue to grow, so too does the infamous/ inexplicable Dad strength! With Baby Slick #3 due in November, can you even imagine the shape I’ll be in for 2021?! Just ask Casey Patterson – once you hit three kids, you’re in your volleyball prime! ✅ AVP Manhattan Open Winner ✅ Olympian.”

Alix Klineman: “We have organized a small scrimmage tournament in Hermosa next week to finish off our current training block. Then, in November we are going to Brazil for a couple of weeks to train against some top competition and to also get some tough training in a hot climate. It’s a challenge not having any formal tournaments, so we are trying to create some challenging situations and opportunities to compete.”

Kelley Kolinske: “Emily and I are training and practicing pretty much through the end of October. We want to use this time to work on specific parts of our game. Our season would normally go through October, so we wanted to mimic what the length of a typical season would be. We have been working hard in the gym and on the sand. We will most likely take most of November and December off from the sand, but will continue working out and staying in shape!”

Tri Bourne: The KOB that we put on was the last competition of my “season”. We went to Hawaii and I’m spending my first three weeks away from the gym and Volleyball. I’m actually in a 14-day quarantine so it kind of works out. For the next two weeks, I’m going to stay in shape by cross-training in the ocean. Surfing, swimming, and learning how to hydrofoil surf which is something that I’ve been dying to learn From my lifeguard buddies. In November I’ll start hitting the gym again and start watching film. Then in December, I’ll start touching the volleyball and just working on very simple fundamentals. Then January is full-on training so that we can peek for the first events of 2021.”


But of course, the holidays are coming up. Our tired Olympic hopefuls are going to need a break. And no one appreciates or understands that better than April Ross.

April Ross: “We still have a full training block to get through that starts next week and takes us to Brazil for two weeks which should be fun and some great training, so I’m looking forward to that! But when we get back I’m going to Montana with family for Thanksgiving and then in December we’ll have a good chunk of time off. I’ll be working out full time but not playing volleyball. I’m just going to rest and hang with family and friends as much as possible and prepare to pick up the grind next year! I’ve already passed on a snowboarding trip with friends that hurts, but I can’t go and risk getting injured doing that this winter. So I’m just going to stick to weightlifting and volleyball for now!”