Misty May-Treanor won three Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012 for beach volleyball, an accomplishment that followed her career at The Beach where she led the undefeated 1998 women’s volleyball team to a national championship.
May-Treanor has been an inspiration to current and future athletes. One of them being freshman LBSU beach volleyball player Mahala Esser.
“Growing up I actually played soccer but my mom loves to watch beach volleyball,” Esser said. “When I started playing beach volleyball, I just always kind of gravitated toward watching (May-Treanor) play.”
May-Treanor’s style of play is clean and precise, something Esser is trying to imitate in her own game.
Esser is not only inspired by May-Treanor’s playing style and athletic career but also by what she does outside of volleyball.
May-Treanor made her debut on season seven of Dancing with the Stars, one of numerous appearances May-Treanor has made on television.
“I think it’s cool when pro athletes aren’t only defined by their sport and they have other aspects of their life that they put value into and are trying to be well-rounded humans, as well as my mother’s and I just feel like she’s one of those people,” said Esser.
Esser is from Ashburn, VA where she lived her entire life. She started to play beach volleyball for a club leading up to high school and eventually decided to join The Beach. During her time at Sage Creek high school, she was named First Team All-Region as a freshman and sophomore.
“At the time it wasn’t, but now I can see that it was the perfect decision for me, I feel like it’s a perfect fit and everything just worked out great,” she said.
Esser came from a small community where beach volleyball does not have many players which resulted in her being one of the best beach volleyball athletes. When moving to Long Beach she came to a bigger community where almost everyone is the best at the sport.
“It’s kind of shocking and very humbling but I feel like I’ve gotten mentally stronger from the experience,” said Esser. “I’ve just learned a lot from it, but it was hard.”
Building her confidence was one of the hardest parts for Esser, but she is showing progress as she has gotten comfortable at The Beach.
“When you play with people that are better than you it just makes you better, I feel like in the whole transition has just started a new upward incline on my progression as a player and I needed a difficult start in order to get where I am now,” said Esser.