Professional volleyball player April Ross has competed all over the world, but she thinks there is something special about playing in New York. The 2x Olympic medalist won the AVP New York City Open at Hudson River Park last year returns this weekend looking for another championship.
"I love this tournament. I’ve played in New York many times, but it wasn’t until playing on Pier 25 and 26 that I fell in love with it,” said Ross in a phone interview. “Tribeca is my new favorite area of New York. I just love the whole vibe. We won last year and I broke my toe and had to play on a broken toe in the finals.”
Ross felt like a local New Yorker last year when she stayed in an Airbnb on the water and walked to work each day. The 35-year-old is excited to explore the city again this week, especially now that she is more familiar with all the different neighborhoods.
“My ability to take the subway has gotten better and now I find the city more mellow and charming. There’s so much history and so much character, I love it. I want to go back to the Met. I’ve only been there one time and I want to go there again.
In addition to visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ross plans to eat dinner at Via Carota and head over to Spring Palace, one of the hottest private members clubs in New York. While Ross anticipates that this year’s New York City Open will be tougher to win than last year’s, her Olympic experience has prepared her for the toughest circumstances.
“There’s a lot of pressure because the stakes are always really high, but once you get to the Olympics the pressure is tenfold and the stage is way bigger. Winning a medal and standing on the podium was such an amazing experience. Winning the Manhattan Beach Open and getting my name on the pier was a big moment as well and winning in New York last year was big because so many more eyes are on this event.”
Today, Ross is one of the faces of professional beach volleyball after playing for years with 3x gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings. In an era where women are fighting for equality in sports and beyond, Ross feels a bigger responsibility to be a role model like Walsh Jennings has been for so many years.
“I feel a huge responsibility. Conveying the sense of strength and independence is really important. I didn’t always feel this responsibility, but the longer I play, the more I feel a responsibility to be a role model to young girls.”
The AVP New York City Open starts on June 7 and runs through June 10. The event will feature Olympians Phil Dalhausser, Sean Rosenthal and former NBA player Chase Budinger.