Courtesy of Beach Volleyball World Championships
American Lauren Fendrick has an extra-special reason for missing her first World Championships in a decade.
It’s not often an Olympian and World Championship runner-up emails to say she would like to withdraw her request for a wildcard for the biggest beach volleyball tournament of the season.
But that’s exactly what American Lauren Fendrick did.
The 37-year-old, however, has a good reason: she is expecting her first child on May 22.
Californian Fendrick registered her wildcard application for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect & ALDI Nord two months ago in case she was in a position to play.
But, with the “baby still cooking and happy inside” the blocker, who represented the United States at the Olympics in Rio de Janiero in 2016, felt it right to contact the organizing committee and withdraw her request.
In an exclusive interview with Beach Volleyball Major Series, Lauren reveals the mixed emotions of preparing to have her first child against the fact she will not be able to compete at a World Championships tournament for the first time in 10 years.
Fendrick, drawing on inspiration from a number of women who have juggled successful careers with motherhood, also vows to make a swift return to the beach when her baby girl arrives, with eyes not only on the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch this August but the Tokyo Olympics next year.
FULL INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN BELOW
Goosebumps don’t lie – See you @ the Beach!
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect & ALDI Nord
June 28 – July 7
Am Rothenbaum, Hamburg (Germany)
Lauren has a special reason for missing her first World Champs in a decade
Just days before the precious wildcards were announced for this year’s World Championships, Lauren Fendrick sent an email saying she needed to withdraw her wildcard bid.
“I’m still pregnant,” said the American. “And I would like to withdraw my wildcard request.”
requests go, there’s not a lot else you can do but sit back, smile,
reply, send your thanks and then ask for an interview to discuss the
“We have to register for World Champs over two
months before they start and so at the time of registration there was a
possibility I’d be back for the World Championships if I delivered early
and the baby came out being self-sufficient and able to care for
herself,” Lauren explains. “So I wanted to register to be able to play
if I was ready.”
Her due date is May 22. As these words are written, “the baby is still cooking and happy inside”.
weeks after the registration date passed, and with baby girl still
enjoying kicking me in the ribs, I knew that World Champs were no longer
in the cards for me this year.”
Expecting her first child, Lauren is of course experiencing mixed emotions. Two years ago, alongside April Ross, the 37-year-old won silver at the World Championship in Vienna, Austria.
Pregnancy means a crack at going one step better at this year’s championships in Hamburg is off the table for the 2016 Olympian.
first world champs was in Stavanger in 2009 and it wasn’t until this
interview that I realized that I’ve played in every one since,” says
Lauren. “This will be the first time in 10 years I won’t play in the
“I’m bummed for sure, because I love Hamburg [it
was also the spot where she and Brooke Sweat secured their Olympic
berth in 2016], and with Beach Majors running it, it will be great, but
this is an incredible moment for my husband [coach Andrew Fuller] and I,
so I think it’s a fair trade off.
“The time off has also
allowed me to focus more on coaching the Stanford beach team with
Andrew. In year’s past I’ve had to miss practices and matches because my
training and tournaments came first. This year, I’ve been able to be
with the athletes more often and it felt like some important foundations
were laid and I’m excited for the future of the program.
“It’s also been huge to be able to pick the brain of our new assistant coach, Louise Bawden
[a three-time Olympian for Australia]
, so I feel like I’ve added some
tools to my coaching and playing toolbox, even though I haven’t been
getting the same high-level reps in the sand.”
strutting her stuff on the Rothenbaum sand will have to wait another
year, a trip to Vienna definitely remains on the agenda. After all, the
Danube Island is a place close to her heart after the exploits in 2017.
World Championships in Vienna with April holds some really great
memories – it was a highlight of my career for sure,” says Lauren. “The
crowd, the atmosphere, how close we were to gold – it was super
memorable for me.
“April and I hadn’t played our best in the
lead-up; she had suffered a broken toe beforehand, so she had to take
six weeks off from playing and while we had played together a handful of
times before, we never had a pre-season or off-season together. Despite
that, I knew if we played well we were capable of beating anyone.
love the World Championship format and the extra prep time that it
allows. It’s more extended than other tournaments, you’re playing one,
maximum two, games a day and it’s great having the extra time to prepare
for matches; analyzing opponents and working on team strategy.
“So while it will be a shame to miss the World Championships, hopefully, I can be back for Vienna.”
only has to look at Fendrick’s social media channels to realize how
motivated she is to make a swift return to the beach once the pregnancy
is over. This is also, of course, an Olympic qualification cycle…
doing everything I can to prepare for a return. I have the awesome
support from everyone around me,” she says. “I have my trainers,
movement coaches, Andrew of course, and our parents. Everyone is keyed
into what we’re trying to do to help make the recovery process as smooth
“Tokyo is the goal, a big goal. I know I don’t
have a lot of time, and there are a lot of unknowns, but we’re trying to
control what is in our control and to be as prepared as possible.
is of course taking inspiration from a number of her fellow athletes
who have juggled motherhood with a career in beach volleyball.
delayed starting a family because of volleyball as there were things in
my career I wanted to accomplish first, but now I have a long list of
athlete-moms who are an inspiration and role models to look up to,” she
says, paying tribute to the likes of Kerri Walsh Jennings, former
teammate Brooke Niles, Kim DiCello, Talita Antunes, Elsa Baquerizo,
Carol and Maria Salgado and Laura Ludwig, just to name a few.
Lauren make it back in time for the Vienna Major, another big question
is: who the hell will she play with? During the 2018 season, Fendrick
partnered no less than six different players on the FIVB World Tour,
including rising star Sarah Sponcil in Vienna.
“Last year I
was figuring out who to play with,” she laughs. “I was looking to see
who I’d gel with and then I found out I was pregnant and that put things
on hold. I have ideas, but a lot depends on how teams are doing on the
“I’ll be doing everything I can to prepare and to put myself in the best position possible and then we’ll see what happens.”
preparation will see Fendrick watching intently as the drama unfolds in
Hamburg, checking on teams’ performance and progress.
to watch, I’m totally a beach volleyball nerd and the world champs will
be no different,” Lauren says. “Success at a World Champs, in my humble
opinion, lies in the ground work that you lay in the off-season,
pre-season and practice beforehand. It takes belief, preparation and
dedication on the part of the whole team—both players and the coach.
There can always be some luck involved or things that happen that you
don’t have control over, but if you’re prepared and believe and you’re
surrounded by the right people, you give yourself a good a chance as
Now, even off the sand, Lauren is keeping to the same principles.
But when the wildcards are announced for Vienna, fingers crossed there’s no need for her to fire out any more emails.