There has the potential to be a changing of the guard this year when it comes to beach volleyball at the Olympics. Often, US dominance of the sport was thanks to players such as Misty May-Treanor. However, Treanor is now retired. Her teammate, Kerri Walsh Jennings, is now participating with a new teammate, and some other members of the US beach volleyball team are in their very first Olympic events ever.
One example of that would be Lauren Fendrick. She and her teammate, Brooke Sweat, are taking on the Larissa/Talita duo frmo Brazil today at 3:30 pm. The event will be live streamed here for anyone with NBC Sports. It’s a big moment for Fendrick, who at 34 is finally getting her shot at the spotlight. A win today would put her and Sweat in far better position to continue on in the tournament, and make a name for themselves.
Here is what you need to know.
1. These Are Her First Olympics, After Being an Alternate in 2012
Though this is Fendrick’s first time playing at the Olympics, she has come close in the past. In 2012, after competing with many different teammates, she just barely failed to qualify for the London Olympics. She was instead named as an alternate for the team.
So when Fendrick and Sweat took to the sand on Sunday August 7th, it was her first time playing in the Olympics, a monumental celebration. The celebration was short-lived, however. Facing Kinga Kolosinska and Monika Brzostek, a Polish team, they won the first set 21-14. But the second and third sets did not go nearly as well, and the pair had a lot of difficulties adjusting to the windier than usual atmosphere. Ultimately, Fendrick’s first Olympic match ended in a loss.
2. She Has Been Teammates With Brooke Sweat Since 2014
Finding a consistent partner proved to be a challenging task over the years for Fendrick. From 2003-2013, Fendrick was paired with 19 different partners. Some of those partnerships were ended and then restarted over the years, such as those with Nicole Branagh, Brittany Hochevar, and Paula Roca.
Since 2014, however, Fendrick has been teaming up with Sweat, and to great success. The pair played in 6 AVP matches in 2014, coming in second 5 times and 3rd once. Fendrick attributes their success to how well the complement one another, saying “Brooke is a great defender who makes these amazing reads in the back-court. This really complements my game as a midsized blocker.”
3. She is a Practicing Lawyer With a Degree From USC
It would be enough just to be an elite athlete in an international sport, being one of the very best in the whole world at volleyball. But not content with just that, Fendrick has had success as a lawyer as well. Years after graduating from UCLA, where she played plenty of volleyball, Fendrick graduated from USC’s law school in 2010. Not only did she graduate, but she passed the bar, allowing her to practice law. She is a practicing attorney when not competing for the Olympics and, due to her height and athleticism, has jokingly been referred to as “The Long Arm of the Law.”
4. She is Married to Andrew Fuller, Her Coach and An Assistant Coach With USC
In February of 2014, Fendrick married Andrew Fuller. Fuller spent 2012-2015 as the assistant coach for USC’s women’s beach volleyball team, and was a volunteer assistant coach this past year. Fuller has also coached the USA Beach Volleyball National Team in 2013, which Fendrick was on at the time.
Fendrick has been particularly effusive in her praise, especially in a profile she wrote about him for her own website. In addition to noting that they met in Brooklyn in 2009 during an AVP event, she praises him both as a coach and as a person: “From his insightful photographic eye to his caring, thoughtful words for those often overlooked, Andrew truly cares about people.”
5. Her Volleyball Victories Have Earned Her Over $500,000 in Her Career
Fendrick may be in her first Olympics after 13 years of professional volleyball, but she was a star in several circuits for quite a long time, and her success there has netted her a very good living. Her many years playing for the US before an international career, including a couple of wins with AVP, won her over $241,000. When she went international and competed with FIVB, she saw even more success, and with them earned over $300,000. She has a lot to be proud of, making her first Olympic events, but with a career before that that saw her receive over $546,000 in winnings, she’s had a lot to be proud of in her career for some time.