Walsh a (bundle) of nerves of steel

RENO - Kerri Walsh is the best female beach volleyball player of all time, but no matter what the event is, it's still like she's a little girl with butterflies in her stomach.

So with her first AVP event coming up a week from today in Miami, the nerves are already beginning to come.

"I'm getting nervous about that," she said. She said she becomes nervous "about everything. I think it's just part of my nature."

With her schedule this year, it should be a nerve-wracking year for Walsh. Along with a busy AVP and international schedule of more than 25 tournaments, Walsh and her partner, Misty May-Treanor will look to defend the gold medal they won at the 2004 Olympics in Beijing in August.

Walsh was at the Peppermill on Thursday to speak at the Salute to Champions Dinner which benefits University of Nevada women's athletics.

Along with winning Olympic gold, Walsh and Treanor have dominated the AVP and international tours, winning 89 straight matches at one point between 2003 and 2004. The two have played together for eight years and Walsh said their personalities are perfect for each other.

While they are both happily married to their own husbands, Walsh said she and Treanor are like a married couple in many ways.

"She's a really quirky girl, she's hilarious," Walsh said. But when the two play together, Walsh said Treanor "gets quiet and focused."

On the other hand while Walsh is the more fired up of the two when they play, she's not as boisterous out of competition.

Walsh said while she's not always shy there are times "you can't get a peep out of me."

"It's a great balance," said Walsh about her relationship with Treanor. "It feels like we've grown up together. I'm a little bit more reserved."

She said the reason why she's more reserved out of competition may be because "I expend so much energy and passion on the court."

Even though it's an Olympic year, Walsh said there will be no slowing down as she and Treanor will maintain a full schedule up to and after the Olympics. She added while the schedule is a little more demanding this year, it's not much different than it was in 2004.

She said the more demanding part of the schedule is actually the growing number of appearances she's making like the Salute to Champions Dinner. But Walsh said it's an honor to be asked for her time and that she's learning how to balance her schedule in and out of competition.

"Intense to say the very, very least," said Walsh about her schedule this year. "There are so many demands on our time."

And Walsh admitted that she and Treanor will have to "pace ourselves, but still kick butt" when it comes to this year's schedule. "We want to peak in August," said Walsh about the Olympics.

"It was overwhelming actually," said Walsh about winning in 2004. You don't know if you want to laugh or cry. To get that was absolutely the most wonderful experience."

Both Walsh and Treanor are both about 30, older than most beach volleyball players, and Walsh admitted "there's a lot of young guns out there." But Walsh said she and Treanor are determined to defend their Olympic title.

Walsh said she couldn't have imagined the success and attention she's experienced, but admitted, "I think you hope and dream of those things."

That's the message she planned to give on Thursday. "Tonight is the Salute to Champions," Walsh said.

"In my life that's where I aspired to be. It's so important to understand that it's more of a team effort and it starts when they are little girls."


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