I’ve always been intrigued by Crissy Jones. She seems mysterious (which I realize now is shyness). She’s super friendly, always smiles when you catch her eye, and answers my texts with lots of exclamation points and gratitude. I love her game; she’s a smart and dominant blocker. I want to be her when I grow up. And lastly – her style.
One of Crissy’s signatures is her one-piece bathing suit. While it goes against the feminist in me to discuss a woman’s appearance right off the bat, I can’t ignore this. It’s become her signature. Crissy just rocks a one-piece like I want to. So I had to ask.
“I wear a one-piece for a lot of reasons,” Crissy says. “For starters, they’re different. I like the way they look, and they’re more comfortable. It sort of feels like part of me and my game now – like my trademark. I really like the extra coverage. I don’t want my body to be discussed as part of my worth or my game. When I have the additional coverage, I feel like people will focus less on how I look and more on my skill and passion.
“People still critique my look, but I feel good, I believe I look good, and I’m having fun doing what I love. That’s all that should matter. Will I play in a one-piece forever? Probably. But maybe I’ll break out in a two-piece every now and then just for fun!
“Lastly, I like that I can be an example for girls who want to play beach volleyball but don’t want to wear a bikini. Other options are just as cool and trendy. I have my own style and my own way of playing this game. I love that.”
Crissy Jones reached the beach by way of accidents and a variety of plan B’s. Growing up a dedicated indoor volleyballer, she never pictured her adult life as a pro beach volleyball player. Maybe as a pro indoor player overseas, perhaps as a politician or campaign manager (she has a Master’s in Public Policy from Cal Poly, so that’s still a viable option). But Crissy’s faith and trust in God’s providence led her through tough terrain to where she is now – a burgeoning AVP star that’s making waves and establishing a name on Tour.
Crissy grew up in Long Beach with her parents and two brothers. Faith was and still is a vital part of their family – Crissy’s full name is actually Christian. Sports were also integral to Crissy’s childhood. She was a figure skater, dancer, and swimmer. She played basketball and started playing volleyball when she was nine. As many kids do, she focused on indoor organizationally and beach recreationally during the summer breaks.
When it came time for college, Crissy played indoor and beach at the University of Washington. “Our beach season was only a few weeks,” Crissy says. “All of the indoor girls would play beach as a method of cross-training.” With their focus on indoor, Crissy’s team was very successful, winning two PAC12 championships and making two Elite 8’s in the NCAA tournament. Crissy earned All-Conference and All-American honors and was set to have a phenomenal senior year to finish her career.
Unfortunately, her senior year was rife with trouble. A sprained ankle, blood clots, and a subsequent diagnosis with Raynaud’s syndrome combined to prevent Crissy from playing her Senior year. Circumstances forced her into reevaluating what was important.
Without indoor in her life, Crissy realized she was over it. Too many injuries, and she wasn’t having as much fun. She loved her experience at UW, but she felt a pull to explore the beach game further in her fifth year of eligibility and shelved her old dream of indoor play overseas.
Crissy applied to UW’s Master’s program, but was denied. “It was pretty naive of me to only apply to one program,” she says, “but everything happens for a reason. I prayed and asked God to put me in a place that would benefit me and my volleyball career.”
She chose Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It was a great school with an even better beach coach – Olympic Gold Medalist Todd “The Professor” Rodgers. “I wanted to go to a school where I could improve my beach game,” Crissy says, “and have a shot at the national championship. Playing for Todd Rogers at Cal Poly seemed like the perfect place.”
Crissy started on the 1s team and slayed. She led her team to the NCAA championship and helped them win their conference for the first time in history. Crissy earned All-American honors and became the second player ever in the NCAA to be an All-American in both beach and indoor volleyball (Emily Maglio from the University of Hawaii was the first).
Todd saw a lot of potential in Crissy; he’s the reason she went pro. “Todd really believed in my skills and gave me the confidence to take the leap,” she says. “I was unsure about beach because it’s such a hard sport to break into. Qualifiers are gnarly, and it’s risky to travel on your own dime and potentially not make any money. It definitely was a shock to me that I had some success so quickly, but it was not easy. Or cheap.”
AVP fans are lucky she made the leap. Crissy had a breakout season in her rookie year in 2019. During the Champions Cup Series in 2020, she and partner Traci Callahan were the only team to start in the Qualifier and make the Main Draw in every tournament. She is the definition of grit and determination. And it all stems from her foundation of faith.
But she didn’t get through her first two seasons without some roadblocks. “Zana [Muno] and I flew to Colorado on a TIGHT budget to play in an AVPNext tournament,” she tells me. “We won and earned a Wildcard berth into the MBO Main Draw, which was epic. Then we flew to Seattle and lost in a Qualifier; morale was pretty low. I hope Zana doesn’t kill me for mentioning this, but we cried in our Uber back to the airport.”
After their loss in Seattle came the Hermosa Beach Open – a rollercoaster of a tournament. They were the 47th seed in the Quali and battled their way to the Semifinals on Sunday. Crissy hurt her knee in their last Qualifier “Game to Get In” so severely that she couldn’t walk that night. “I was so bummed,” she says. “Finally, we get our shot into the Main Draw, but I’m too hurt to compete. I called Zana and told her that I was pretty sure that we would have to forfeit.”
After a fitful night of sleep and prayer, Crissy bought a knee brace and hoped for the best. She warned the AVP that she may have to forfeit due to injury, and they even moved her from Stadium Court to an outer court. “I prayed and put on my best poker face.”
Zana and Crissy lost badly in the first match, but rallied in impressive form to win their next five matches to make it to Sunday. “How?” she asks. “Faith in God and grit. God really carried me through the weekend. He helped me play through the pain and overcome the challenges presented to me. Zana and I worked really hard, and it was such a rewarding feeling. We really had to lean on each other.” After the Hermosa Open, with their partnership and bodies strengthened, Crissy and Zana finished out the year with three more Top 10 finishes.
During the offseason, Crissy experienced some major life changes. She married the love of her life, a Marine named Max. They moved to Twentynine Palms, CA – a base in the desert 2.5 hours away from where most pro beach volleyball players live. She finished her Master’s Degree online. Oh… and the world shut down.
“This offseason was pretty wild,” she says. “I had A LOT going on, and I wasn’t expecting volleyball to return this summer. However, I wanted to be prepared in case it did.” Crissy and Traci responsibly trained on a private court during the pandemic; it’s one of the reasons they were in full form when the Champions Cup Series rolled around.
“When the AVP did return, I was so hyped,” Crissy says. “The Champions Cup Series was amazing. I loved the format; it went very smoothly, and I felt really safe. I had a blast competing. It was awesome to make it into all three Main Draws because the Qualifiers were so stacked. Competing against the best is always fun, and I definitely improved on my game a lot.”
Crissy plans to continue training and competing until she makes the Olympics. “I want to see how far I can take this sport.”