Hello again, Internet, and welcome to another fun and exciting “Tuesdays with Avatar” post. I feel that the first three entries in this segment have really allowed the volleyball community to learn a little more about some of the professional beach volleyball players that compete on the AVP. (For example; Ryan Doherty talks to himself, Brittany Hochevar gives great advice about traveling, and Adrian Carambula almost broke his foot kicking his own partner…as a celebration) Let’s hope that we can continue down the path to enlightenment with our latest team, Emily Day and Summer Ross.
2013 was a break-out year for both of these players. Emily, after a great indoor career at Loyola Marymount University, has been playing in professional beach volleyball tournaments since 2009. But last year, she turned a corner by winning her first AVP title in Cincinnati and making her first FIVB Grand Slam semi-final and first Open final. She was awarded AVP’s Most Improved Player of 2013. Summer Ross, (or Summer Boss, as I like to call her) set a record in 2010 for being the first person to win the FIVB Junior (under 19 years old) and Youth (under 21 years old) World Championships in the same season. Still only 21, she already has won some hardware on the domestic and international circuits, and may be the most calm and relaxed person to ever play a major sport.
Avatar: Ladies, thank you for agreeing to do this. Emily, let’s start with you. As a really successful outside hitter at LMU, what would you say are some similarities and differences between indoor and the beach game?
Emily Day: Well both sports have a ball, net, and court. Other than that, they are completely different sports. Indoor you have your make-up on, powerful swings, and hair did with a ribbon, while in beach volleyball you have your bathing suit, crafty side-out skills, and you need to make sure your six-pack is on point.
Avatar: No wonder I never liked indoor, I always forgot to put on make-up. (I do look great when I get my hair did, though. Especially with a ribbon) Summer, last year you won the AVP Cincinnati Open as a 20-year old. Did they give you a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne to pop in celebration?
Summer Ross: Oh hey Avatar, good to see you. I don’t think AVP had any of that fancy Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider in Cinci. But, my Grammy always has some stashed, and we celebrated when I came home.
Avatar: Emily, you are a math tutor during the off-season and have been quoted as saying you “like math”. That has to be a typo, right? I mean, nobody likes math. It was probably that you “like meth” or “like Matt”, huh?
ED: Definitely a typo; I LOVE math. I get it…sounds nerdy but I enjoy how math has one correct answer and when you get it right, it’s very satisfying. Tutoring allows me to use my math degree and it’s rewarding to see high school students succeed. Plus, I like to show that athletes aren’t just jocks.
Avatar: Preach, Em. Some of us athletes ain’t not no dummies. Summer, much like your heroes Bill Gates and Kanye West, you left college early. What advice would you give to other young aspiring beach volleyball players about the difference between being a college athlete and being a professional athlete?
SR: Unless you want to live on the edge, paycheck to paycheck, stay in school. At college, they fed us and did our laundry…I miss that. However, the pro beach life is great. I’m loving playing volleyball full time and training at the ASC gym with my beach idols, such as yourself.
Avatar: Thanks, Boss. I try to really push myself and work really hard while I am in the National team’s training facility. (Here’s a picture of me “getting after it”. #riseandgrind)
Emily, your cousin Charlie Day went into acting (he plays Charlie Kelly on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) while your uncle Howie Day is a successful musician. Were you ever tempted to follow in the family business and try your luck in Hollywood?
ED: Absolutely not. My “easy” acting class in college was a disaster. Definitely not for me. (P.S. I’m not related to those guys)
Avatar: What? You aren’t related to either of them? Yeah right, next Summer is going to be trying to tell me that her and April Ross aren’t sisters…
SR: I wish. I’ve always wanted a sister. I think we’re both related to Betsy, though.
Avatar: Wow, I need to start doing my homework before I write these things. Em, you and Summer just signed Under Armour as your apparel sponsor. What is it going to take for your to “Protect this House” this year?
ED: We are so fortunate and excited to be repping Under Armour this year. You know, last season Summer and I were the underdogs and had to play in qualifiers, so teams maybe took us lightly. This year, we can’t fly under the radar so we have added some weapons in order to “Protect this House”. Summer and I have Tyler Hildebrand and Rich Lambourne coaching us this season. We are also trying our luck at moving up on the “Best Hair” list, thanks to being sponsored by Paul Mitchell.
Avatar: If you two want to throw some of those Tea Tree products my way, I wouldn’t say no. Summer, what is one thing a fan would be surprised to know about Emily?
SR: You can’t limit me to one, Avatar. Em loves Grey’s Anatomy, peanut butter, and reading. Oh, but the most surprising thing is she can dance better than C-Patt.
Avatar: As soon as Casey reads this, he is going to start angrily dancing in an abandoned factory, Footloose-style. Emily, what is your favorite thing about an AVP event?
ED: My favorite thing about AVP events is having my friends and family there to cheer Summer and I on. #EmsEntourage #SummerDay
Avatar: Summer Boss, have you ever had a real job with a boss? Or does my nickname not make any sense to you at all?
SR: I’ve always been my own boss. Blackberry stands, babysitting, car washes – I made serious cash. If I don’t return to the comfortable lifestyle blackberry sales provides, my Grandma always jokes that I can run Ross Dress for Less.
Avatar: Your Grandma sounds pretty awesome, happy belated Mother’s Day to her. (And all the other mothers out there) Being the youngest current player in the country with a major tournament win, what do you have to do to stay hungry and motivated to keep improving?
SR: Being blessed with this opportunity to play on the domestic and international tours is what pushes me to give it my all.
Avatar: Both ladies, who is your favorite guy on the AVP to watch play?
ED: Whoever has the best six-pack! With all due respect, everyone on tour is working hard and I enjoy learning from others. Phil can block lights out, Casey sets sauce all the time, and Nick runs down balls better than anyone I’ve ever seen before.
SR: You, by far…a former pro pitcher on the AVP tour. What’s next? Nick is very smooth. I like Will Montgomery and his VB passion. The players with awesome hair never bore me…Stevo, Stafford, CPatt, and Tramblie.
Avatar: I like Summer’s answer better, as Stevo Vanderwerp doesn’t get nearly enough recognition for his glorious “Cousin Larry from Perfect Strangers”hair.
Again to both of you; what is one goal you have as a team for the 2014 season?
ED: WIN. The goal every season is to improve and we are looking to do some damage this year.
SR: To get as tan as we were last season and make music videos in every city we play in.
I’ll bring the GoPro, Boss. I want to thank both Emily and Summer for being good sports about my nonsense. Feel free to like Emily’s Facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/emily.dayprobeach?fref=ts) and follow Boss on Twitter. (@summernoelross, she may be my favorite Twitterer of all time with gems like “Woah I just broke my PR for 15 hrs solid sleep with 17!!! Yessss”) And of course, you can keep track of any and all volley-news at 184.108.40.206. But if you want to continue to only visit the site on Tuesdays just so you can laugh at my hilarious articles, well…I can’t say I blame you.