Who Is April Ross? The Olympic Athlete Is Focused On Gold

It's that time again — the Olympics, when athletes from all around the world gather and participate in summer-themed athletic activities that make us mere mortals captivated with awe. This year, the event is hosted by Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and according to the official Team USA webpage, 554 participants are competing at the Rio games this year — 292 of those athletes being women. That's a lot of participants to keep track of, but there are plenty of stand-out team members you'll definitely want to get to know. For starters, you definitely won't be asking yourself who April Ross is after seeing what's likely to be an incredible Rio performance.

According to the official Team USA website, Ross was born on June 20, 1982 in Costa Mesa, California, and considering that environment, she's probably been at least aware of beach volleyball, the sport that she competes in for the Olympics, since she could walk. Ross has a sister, Amy, plus four step-siblings, and she is currently married to another beach volleyballer, Brad Keenan, who was hired in May to be Arizona State's beach volleyball coach.

Ross's Team USA profile states that she she is 6'1", so a decorated career in beach volleyball seems very fitting for the athlete. She won honors while playing at the University of Southern California, winning NCAA titles with her team, all while getting a degree in International Marketing. Alongside Jennifer Kessy, Ross won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, and at Rio, she's reaching for gold yet again by teaming up with Kerri Walsh Jennings.

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From the long list of Ross's wins listed on her profile in the Beach Volleyball Database, the athlete's living room must be full of crowded trophy cases. Her Team USA page reports that Ross has been competing since she attended high school, where she played indoor volleyball, basketball, and track and field — and was the 1999 Gatorade Circle of Champions National Player of the Year. From there, she's gone on to win medals all over the world, usually with Kessy, her seven-year partner.

Pairing up with Jennings for Rio will certainly be interesting. In a 2013 interview with ESPNW, Jennings said, "I've never played with anyone with as much energy as April has. It's like looking in a mirror out there. I think we're really similar in the way we play and the way we feel about playing." The duo have been competing together now for about three years in preparation for the Olympics, but it will be fascinating to see how these ladies work together in the game of all games. It's already looking good; on Sunday, Aug. 7, the two beat Australia 2-0.

On her Team USA profile, Ross said, “My mindset is the same as it’s always been; get better and win tournaments. Every tournament I go to, I want to win. It’s always the same. But every year I’ve gotten more and more focused. I think that will continue.” With that kind of speech, it's easy to see that Ross has the soul and mind of a champion. Let's hope that she and Jennings keep up their success as the Rio events continue.