A first for us here at www.thegivingathlete.com! A month ago we caught up with professional volleyball player Erin Gray. Erin Gray is our very first PROFILE here at The Giving Athlete! In 2010, she was ranked one of the nation’s top 20 players by the AVP (Association Of Volleyball Professionals) and won 7 titles. The 5’11” Orlando Park, Illinois native was nice enough to take out some to answer a few questions for us:
Thanks so much for this opportunity. I feel privileged to be doing this interview with thegivingathlete.com!!
Q: For those who do not know who you are, who is Erin Gray?
A: Well I’m a 35 year old mother of four and professional beach volleyball player. I have had these dreams of one being a mom, and two being a strong active role model not only for my kids but for all women aspiring to follow their dreams. I was blessed with this talent and use volleyball as a platform to tell my story and hopefully inspire others to follow their dreams.
Q: What attracted you to the sport of volleyball?
A: I was a multi sport athlete growing up. I started with softball and built some confidence to try and play basketball, and run track.
Q: Could you explain to our readers the difference [besides the fact that you play on sand] between volleyball and beach volleyball? In other words the challenges a player faces making the transition to beach volleyball from the hard-court?
A: This is a great question because the sport is technically the same, but beach volleyball brings some challenges to those who start on hard court. First of all there are only two of us out there… No subs, it’s just me and my partner. We solely rely on each other to win. We both have to know to pass, set, serve and hit. We have to trust and communicate constantly. . As if that’s not enough, we have the elements of wind, sand, and temperature that play a role in the game. We play 4 to 7 matches per day. It’s def a challenge but I have to say its exactly why I love it so much!
Q: Who would you say is your inspiration, your role model? That one particular individual who motivated your throughout your life? How much of an influence is or was that person in your career?
A: I’ve had this question a lot and I always come up blank! I was the youngest of three children and by the time I was playing sports, I was pretty self motivated. I would get myself to practice and because my parents both worked and had my siblings to take care of, I found myself making my own path rather than looking to anyone else. My father was always watching and supporting, but I spent most of my time finding ways to get better, it was never a thought to watch or want to get taken under someone’s wing. I was self focused. I’m not sure if I would recommend it for young girls because I had to feel every trial and tribulation, but it’s why I’m so motivated to help young woman today!
Q: What other sports did you participate in growing up?
A: As I said earlier, I played a lot of sports growing up, softball, basketball, gymnastics, track… You name it I tried it.
Q:If you are not playing volleyball or donating your time within the community, where would we find you? What do you do during your spare time?
A: Haha, spare time!!!!! Well I love to travel and spend time with my loved ones. I’m not one to sit still too long!
Q: Our main focus here at The Giving Athlete is on the work athletes are doing within the community. We concentrate on the positive things athletes are doing. With that said, I hear that you are partnering up with O.N.E. Coconut Water in an effort to help inspire young women worldwide. How did this come about for you and what is that you will be doing?
A: I was fortunate to meet this group, and immediately we connected. I love what they represent and how they are giving back to the community. They want to inspire people to live healthy and they inspire so many people. It was an exact fit. I’m currently in Ankara, Turkey training and playing with the young girls here who have just started to realize how sports and representing their Country can be rewarding for them, but can inspire young generations to come. I’m hoping to help encourage these girls to step out of the mold and be the strong and bold women I see them becoming. I am so fortunate to be here, I feel it’s part of my role as a woman and an athlete. I will be traveling this summer of course focusing on my sport, but as I make stops along the way I hope to leave my footprint in the sand somehow someway.
Q: Are there any other organizations you are involved with? If so, briefly name a few along with your role with them. We would love to promote them here.
A: I’m working on building the relationships with UNICEF here in turkey to donate my time, and I will be guest coaching in Vancouver youth volleyball association as well in July. I hope to be able to partner and touch as many people as I can with my sport.
Special Thanks to Lucy Rendler-Kaplan of ArKay Marketing.