Kerri Walsh Jennings, nicknamed "Six Feet of Sunshine," is widely regarded as the greatest female beach volleyball player of all time. After leading the Stanford women’s indoor volleyball team to two NCAA titles, Walsh Jennings would turn to professional beach volleyball, teaming up with Misty May-Treanor to form one of the most dominant pairs the sport had ever seen.
The unstoppable duo won three Olympic gold medals and three world titles and went unbeaten for a remarkable 112 match wins. With her long blonde hair and golden California skin, Walsh Jennings was also one of the first beach players to gain international acclaim. To this date, Walsh Jennings has the highest earnings of any female player. With a net worth estimated at over $8 million U.S. dollars, she is not only the best beach volleyball player in the world, but she is also an accomplished entrepreneur, mom, and advocate for children through her Chase the Stars Foundation.
Before her successful transition to the beach, she had a thriving indoor career at Stanford University. She attended the prestigious school on a volleyball scholarship. With her exceptional athletic abilities, she helped her team win over 90% of its matches, posting an impressive 122-11 overall record during her four years there. As one of the country's best players, she led her team to four Pac-10 titles and two NCAA championships as well as being selected as a first-team All-American four years in a row. In addition, she won the National Player of the Year in 1999. She was then selected for the U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball team to compete at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, while still a student at Stanford. In 2001 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American studies.
Since then, Stanford's most successful alum to play on the beach has found time in her busy schedule to return to where it all began. For example, in 2013 and 2018 she appeared in on-campus events which featured successful athletes discussing their unique experiences and how Stanford had prepared them for their careers. But 2011 was especially important for Walsh Jennings, who was inducted into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame that year.
"In my entire professional career, I just felt Stanford gave me just a great foundation to leap off of," she said during her Hall of Fame speech. "I walked into Stanford a really young, naïve, scared 18-year-old, and I left as an Olympian."
Six years later, Walsh Jennings was invited back to Stanford for another ceremony to honor her time at the school. Much to her delight and shock, the university dedicated an entire beach volleyball court to the Olympic gold medalist whose legacy, both indoor and outdoor, is cemented for the future.