Fresh off an unexpected partner change, longtime beach volleyball standout Angie Akers is in the throes of rebuilding mode. Ever the optimist and competitor, she is handling it with hard work and grace. After a month of FIVB tournaments overseas, Volleyball tracked
Angie down to get the skinny.
VBM Less than six weeks ago you were still partners with Nicole Branagh. What happened there and how did your current partnership with Brittany Hochevar come about?
AA Nicole had an unforeseen indoor opportunity arise overseas and she felt that she needed to pursue it. I obviously needed a new partner fast and the first person I thought of was Brittany. Even though she was overseas playing indoor in Russia, I still had confidence in her ability to quickly transition back to the sand. We had less than two weeks to prepare for our first FIVB tournament together – less than seven practices. We approached it with a realistic attitude, but also wanted to give it a very aggressive shot. With us being a brand new team, we want to just go for it and hit the ground running. But we’re staying patient, getting better every point, every match, every tournament. This is our goal for now and when our time comes, we’re going to run with it.
VBM What’s your training schedule look like now that the season is in full swing?
AA It’s actually really nice at the moment; I’ve kind of dialed back a bit. We’re practicing in the sand for two hours a day, and then we have our additional workouts that we do on our own…then there’s physical therapy, chiropractors, etc. I’m just trying to stay healthy right now and also do my thing without getting too stressed out about things. We have a great idea of what we need to work on after being on the road so we’re working on those things and also focusing on studying all those other teams.
VBM Will you guys be playing in all of the FIVB tournaments this summer? Any domestic tournaments?
AA We’ll be playing all of the FIVB events, and as far as domestic tournaments go I definitely hope to play in some. It will come down to which tournaments make sense for us out of the three different leagues.
VBM Speaking of…How do you feel about the new AVP ownership? Thumbs up or down?
AA I think it’s really exciting. The AVP is such a powerful, well-recognized brand, so to have it back is wonderful. I’m hoping that the new owner puts as much love into it as we all have and hopefully good things are in store.
VBM A sneaky gander at the Angie Akers Wikipedia page tells us that you had a previous career in running. What made you go back to volleyball?
AA I had a corporate job at the time and so running was my athletic outlet back then. I enjoyed it immensely and will most likely go back to it at some point, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted. We were living in San Francisco back then and I received a call from a past teammate of mine about making a run on the beach. I talked it over with my husband, decided to quit my job, and then we just packed everything up and moved down here (Southern California). That was eleven years ago and I couldn’t be happier.
VBM What a supportive husband! And also a risky gamble that turned out for the best. We love hearing stories like that. What’s the best part about life as a beach volleyball player?
AA For me it’s traveling the world and playing a sport that makes you feel so free. There’s so much about it that I love: the wonderful friends, the beautiful places, the competition – it makes for such a unique, amazing job. I am grateful every day to be able to play this sport, especially having had a corporate job, I cherish it all the more.
VBM It’s great to hear a professional athlete describe their job in this way. If you had to describe your life motto, what would you say?
AA I think it probably comes down to outlook on life. I fully believe that we are blessed with opportunities and that it’s so important to take chances and really make the most of what you’re given. It can be scary, but it’s so rewarding no matter what the outcome. If I could instill anything in others, it would be to find the courage to follow their dreams.
VBM You’ve had an impressive and lengthy career. What is your most profound volleyball highlight from over the years?
AA I think my first AVP finals in Chicago with Brooke Hanson really stand out. Also, any time making the medal stand on the FIVB tours has been very special.
VBM Favorite hobby outside of volleyball?
AA I really enjoy hiking, but if we’re talking non-physical activity, I love to watch good movies.
VBM Post volleyball goals?
AA I just hope to find something that makes me happy. I know that I definitely want to be involved in an avenue that centers around helping other people. I’m not sure exactly what capacity this will be in yet, but I know this part for sure. To me, being happy in what you do is so much more important than making big dollars. I am all about finding my way to a happy quality of life after volleyball.
VBM Favorite naughty treat?
AA I like some great dark chocolate on occasion.
VBM Favorite beach player to watch?
AA On the women’s side, I really like Maria and Talita from Brazil. I think Maria Antonelli is probably my favorite player to watch. On the men’s side, my favorite is John Hyden.
VBM Last book you read?
AA That’s a funny question for me because I’m usually reading five books at any given time…but the last book I finished was Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin.”
Originally published in July 2012