April Ross celebrates during the women's gold-medal match at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 6, 2021 in Tokyo.
While she was collecting medals in beach volleyball at three Olympic Games and seven world championships, April Ross never gave much thought to coaching after her competitive career ended. All that has changed.
This year at age 40, Ross has enrolled at Concordia University Irvine in her home state of California to pursue her master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration. It’s a new academic realm for Ross, who earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations with a minor in marketing from the University of Southern California back in 2005.
“It’s so funny,” Ross said. “My goal then was to work in marketing for Gatorade. I ended up working for Gatorade in a different capacity as an athlete for many years. It just came to fruition in a different way.”
Ross’ first day back at school was Aug. 29. She’s embraced the shift into a new academic discipline.
“I’m really enjoying it so far,” said Ross, a 2020 Olympic gold medalist who has won a total of three Olympic and three world championships medals. “I’m learning so much and have become so much more passionate about it.
“I never saw myself really coaching while I was playing and thinking about maybe what I would do after I was done. Coaching didn’t appeal to me that much.”
A shoulder injury kept Ross out of the world championships in June. Instead, she did rehabilitation work and stepped away from competitive beach volleyball. During that time, she did dabble a bit in coaching at camps and with USA Volleyball. As for her status as a player?
“It’s a little unsure. I’m not writing anything off,” said Ross, who added that she plans to make a decision in the coming months. “It takes so much motivation to continue at the highest level. So, I just have to decide where my passion really lies at this moment.”
For now, she’s trying to squeeze her studies in with serving as a graduate assistant for the Concordia Irvine beach volleyball program and her various side projects. Among them is serving on the Gatorade Women’s Advisory Board.
“It’s a challenge,” Ross said. “It’s a huge balancing act at the moment. I literally have no free time.”