The Olympics don't kick off until Friday, but pro beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings is already having a busy summer. Not only is the 37-year-old mom of three going for her fourth gold medal (yes, fourth!) at the Games in Rio de Janeiro, but she also debuted her documentary "Kerri Walsh Jennings: Gold Within" on July 31 and launched her partnership with The Honest Company, where she is the baby-product company's first brand ambassador.
"I have been an avid user of Honest products since they came out in 2012," Walsh Jennings tells mom.me. "I use them in every area of my life — as a mommy, as an athlete, just as a woman. I apply a lot of the products on my children. It’s just a beautiful fit."
Walsh Jennings talks to us about working with Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba, how this Olympic Games will be different from the last (for one thing, she was pregnant with her daughter at the 2012 London Games), and how she models girl power for her sons and daughter.
Have you and Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba exchanged any mom tips?
Our first day together, we did a joint interview. It was just so easy. We were talking about the challenges of getting your kids to wear sunscreen. We live in Honest sunscreen. Their mineral sunscreens, they have the sprays, they have the stick. It makes my life so easy, but it’s always a battle. And we were like, "What’s your strategy?" I was like, "I do the connect-the-dot method and it works half the time." And she’s like, “I just bribe my kids.” And then we were like, “We just hold them down.” It was a pretty funny, total mom, "you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do" moment. It was pretty funny.
A lot has changed since your last Olympic Games. Four years ago, you were pregnant with your daughter, and now you have a new volleyball partner, April Ross. How is all of that going for you?
Change is wonderful and inevitable in life, and they’ve all been very beautiful changes. I had such a great run with Misty May-Treynor—she’s forever part of me and I’m so grateful. I’ve segued into another beautiful relationship that’s so unique and so different. It’s refreshing. I’ve had to grow because of the changes.
Our family has certainly grown. My daughter was in my belly in London, and now she’s 3. She is just so full of attitude and love, and she’s gorgeous. And our boys are amazing. It’s crazy the amount of life that’s lived in four years. I’ve been living my life in quadrennials since I was 22, so it’s really cool to take a moment and think about all of the growth that has happened between my husband and I—and just myself, as an individual. It’s been a blessed life.
You are a very strong woman, and now you have a very strong daughter. How do you exemplify girl power for your boys and your daughter?
I am so much about personal empowerment, and I had to learn that it comes from me. You can tell me I’m amazing, my parents can tell me I’m amazing, but if I don’t feel it, it’s not going to happen. So I really encourage our kids to be themselves, to work really hard, to love that feeling and not focus on the end result. I absolutely want my daughter to celebrate the fact that she’s a beautiful, strong girl, just like I want my boys to celebrate the fact that they’re rambunctious and different than us, and that we each make each other better. Basically, it’s not about comparing ourselves to anyone else, it's about loving ourselves. God made us; he picked everything about us. And loving all of that and celebrating ourselves is really nice.
I am so much about personal empowerment, and I had to learn that it comes from me.
Are you taking your family to Rio with you?
Our kids will be at home, watching Mom on TV. They’re like, “Mom, we’ll cheer so hard.” I’m like, “I know you will.” My husband will be there, so they’ll be with their cousins. It’s kind of a selfish thing to bring them on the road because I’ll get to see them maybe two hours a day every other day. You’re just in it so much, and so it would be really hard for my husband and my family. So they’re going to be having so much fun.
Does your daughter have a special spot in her heart for beach volleyball?
I think my daughter will be a stud at whatever she wants to do. She’s really coordinated. When she’s in something, she’s in it, just like our boys. They’re all so unique, but they each have a soft spot for the Olympics. We are a patriotic family, and it’s so special. I think Scout certainly has that. She’s golden in our eyes. We almost named her Goldie for a while, but we changed that to Scout Margery at the last minute. She’s golden.
What’s your entrance song? What do you walk out to?
I’ve had the same one for many, many years. My entrance song is White Stripes’ "Seven Nation Army." It’s a good one, and I will not sing it for you, but I feel it in my heart and it gets me pumping.