Having won gold medals in Athens, Beijing, and now London, Olympic beach volleyball legend Misty May-Treanor will be coming home to a comfortable home environment.
“The house is clean,” said her husband, Matt Treanor, the Dodgers’ backup catcher. “I cleaned the house for her, so when she came home, if I wasn’t with her, she’d at least have some decent living arrangements.”
It was a simple and loving gesture by Treanor, who eloquently spoke of his third consecutive Olympic experience that entailed watching pinnacle moments of his wife’s career from computer screens inside baseball clubhouses.
In 2004, he cheered on his wife from Triple-A Colorado Springs. In 2008, it was from the visiting clubhouse at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. On Wednesday, it was in the trainer’s room inside the Dodgers clubhouse after a spotty Internet connection brought Treanor away from his locker stall and into the company of the Los Angeles training staff, manager Don Mattingly, and even reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw for several minutes.
The camaraderie with his teammates has helped build the bridge between the Dodgers and the May-Treanor — Kerri Walsh-Jennings duo, two teams linked by united support. After their semifinal win over China — the 20th win in their 21-game unbeaten streak — May-Treanor leaned toward the camera and exclaimed “Go Dodgers!” almost immediately after their victory over China’s Xue Chen and Zhang Xi. At Chavez Ravine, Treanor offered his own inspirational video and will be soliciting the services of several of his teammates for the next one.
“The guys, you might hear a comment or two — ‘look at these chicks in the bikinis!’ — and the next you know, five minutes later, you’re saying ‘wow! That was a great play’, and now the athleticism comes out,” Treanor said. “A lot of my teammates — I’d say everybody — have been as good as anybody I’ve been around. I come walking out. My eyes are still red from crying a little bit, and here comes Kemp, giving me a big hug and screaming USA! USA! So I’m going to see if I can’t get him and a couple boys on a little video and send it over to Misty, because she’s been shouting us out. I think it’d be good for her to know how much these guys appreciate it.”
As the celebration in the Dodger clubhouse took place, May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings exulted 5,000 miles away following the final match point of their storied Olympic career together. After dominance through three Olympic cycles — the pair finally lost their first set in an Olympic match to Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria during pool play last week — May-Treanor will retire from professional beach volleyball to start a family with Matt.
“I’m a little speechless right now because I can’t believe this is my last match,” May-Treanor said on NBC immediately after her win. “I’m not going to leave this sport. I’m going to be following Kerri, and I want to push her to still continue to be the best player she can be — best mom, best friend, best wife, everything.”
May-Treanor’s decision to enter an additional Olympic cycle came in March 2011, after she had wrestled with the idea of retiring from competition after her second gold medal. Having successfully rehabilitated a torn Achilles tendon suffered during a training session for “Dancing With the Stars” shortly after her gold medal in Beijing, her complete competitive roundabout and satisfaction in her decision to return was noticed by Matt shortly before May-Treanor left for London.
“I just saw this look in her face. Her skin looked good,” Treanor said. “The way she looked, it just looked like she was beaming. Misty’s never been pregnant, but they say sometimes pregnant women get like that. It’s almost like this satisfied feeling or this aura about them. That’s what I saw in Misty. I just felt like this was the right thing for her, and I’m glad she made the decision. Having it finish with a gold medal was just a positive to everything. I don’t think necessarily she needed to win to have that completion, that satisfaction in her. But I’m glad it ended up the way it did.”
With his wife’s performance creating a backdrop for Wednesday night’s 6-4 victory over Colorado, Treanor acknowledged much attention would be paid to his performance as he stepped in for a resting A.J. Ellis.
“I told somebody that if I don’t get two or three hits with six RBI, I’m a disappointment to the family right now,” he said.
Treanor went hitless in three at-bats but was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning, took second on a Chad Billingsley (8-9) sacrifice bunt, and scored on an RBI single up the middle by Shane Victorino. The Dodgers, who have an off-day Thursday, begin a 10-game road trip in Miami on Friday.
While Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross was allowed to leave training camp for a couple of days to see his track star wife Sanya Richards-Ross win gold in the 400 meters and center Nick Mangold of the New York Jets was granted permission by Rex Ryan to leave training camp to see his sister, Holley, compete in women’s weightlifting, Treanor understood that his allegiance deep into a Dodgers pennant race was with his teammates and his manager.
“Deep down in my heart I wanted to be there for all three of (her gold medal matches). It’s tough not being able to be there,” he said.
As such, there were red eyes as soon as he stepped out of the trainer’s office.
“I’m an emotional person. I’m not afraid to cry. I’m not afraid to snap a bat over my neck. That’s the way I am, the way I’m built. Irish Italian doesn’t always help either. The funny thing is Misty is kind of the opposite. She doesn’t really show emotion that much. She kind of always looks at me when we’re watching a sappy movie, waiting for me to shed a tear. She gets a kick out of that.
“It was tears of joy. The tears didn’t flow right away because there were a bunch of people in the room. I had to step out of the room. To me, it’s a swarming effect that there are all these thoughts and emotions that come into your head, and a lot of it is just about Misty. It’s about what she wanted to do and sacrificed for her to accomplish that.”
Coaching is likely to be in the future for May-Treanor, who has Long Beach roots and is a 49er volleyball alum. Returning to coach so close to the couple’s home in the South Bay was idealized as a best-case scenario by Treanor on Wednesday.
He also paused to consider the attention and fine-tuning to their performances May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings added so deep into their professional careers.
“They’ve actually adapted their game. They became better as far as their communication and stuff like that.”