True Story: I’m A Professional Athlete

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/amazing/challenging things.  This is the story of Tealle and her career as a professional beach volleyball player.

Tealle gets air (she’s the one in the middle)
Tell us a bit about yourself! 
I am 26 yrs old from Girard, OH. I now live in El Segundo, Ca to play and train for professional beach volleyball. I also work in transportation, pretty much total opposites! In addition to volleyball I absolutely love traveling, finding new and interesting places to eat and explore, and spending as much time as possible with friends and family.
When did you start playing volleyball?
I started playing organized volleyball when I was 10, but actually fell in love with it much sooner playing in my grandparent’s backyard pool. I’ve been hooked ever since. Through middle school and high school I also played basketball, baseball, and did high and long jump in track.

Did you go to university on a volleyball scholarship?  Can you tell us how that works?

I went to Duke University on scholarship. The recruiting process can be a very different experience for everyone. For me, I played for an amazing club volleyball team out of Pittsburgh, PA. We competed in national tournaments where college scouts look at athletes and had an amazing coach that laid the volleyball groundwork. It opens a lot of doors and allows a lot of exposure. That’s where it all started!When choosing where to attend school, it’s all about what the individual is looking for. You choose based on school, location, academics, volleyball, and a real combination of everything that works for you. Academically there was no question about Duke. I didn’t really have any parameters as far as location but I new when I stepped on campus it was exactly where I was supposed to be, and it was absolutely amazing!

What did you study in college?  How did volleyball affect your life at school?
I studied Public Policy (a sort of business / law background) at Duke with a Markets and Management Certificate. I think volleyball has the same affect as any college sport on life at school. You have to balance practice, weights, training, travel, competition, and classes with social life. I think being a college athlete set the groundwork for life after school in the work force and even as a professional athlete. I find things every day that take me back to my experience at Duke. It’s so cool to have that link!

Now you’re a professional beach volleyball player!  Are you sponsored by a company?  Do you play for a specific city or state?
MNX sponsors us with flights etc, and we wear Billabong suits (uniforms). I play professional beach doubles on several tours both domestic and overseas. The new domestic pro tour is the NVL (National Volleyball League). This is their inaugural season and they are doing an incredible job!

The first event was a few weeks ago at the Preakness in Baltimore. It was such a cool experience to play on the infield, and the fact that we won makes it that much better! There is also the Corona Light Wide Open Tour which travels around the US. Both have about 6-8 stops this season. We have also been overseas on the FIVB tour, the international beach volleyball world tour and are looking forward to their next tournament!

How have the people in your life reacted to your career choice?

The people in my life have been the fuel for my career choice. Their reaction has been nothing but love and encouragement. I knew early that I wanted to play in college and then that I wanted to play on the beach. Since I made that decision, my family and friends have been a huge support system for the entire journey.

My parents and brother and sister followed me around weekend after weekend playing club and were always in the stands from middle school through college. Long drives or flights to tournaments and long days in the gym became the norm. On the pro circuit they are at every event that they can be and it means so much to have such rock solid support, beyond words.

How much time do you spend practicing/working out/etc every week?
We do some kind of workout, training, lifting, yoga, etc 5-6 times a week. As far as time for workouts it really varies. In the offseason you go longer and lift heavier as you get your base for the season. In season, you should be ready and feeling good for tournaments so it becomes about maintenance and keeping things where they should be.

What is the average ‘retirement’ age for pro beach volleyball players?  What do you want to do once you’re done with volleyball?
Pro beach volleyball players can peak in their late 20’s through their 30’s. One of the great things about this sport is that athletes can play into their 40’s. With that being said, I haven’t really thought too much about life after volleyball! I plan on playing for several years, and even after will probably be coaching along whatever other path I choose. It will always be part of my life.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in sports?

To anyone interested in pursuing a career in sports I would say dedication, hard work, goals, and dreams can take you a long way. If athletics is what you love than you should go for it! All of the blood, sweat, and tears come with lifelong friends, one-of-a-kind experiences, the chance to see the world, and live the life of your dreams. Though there is always sacrifice, it’s now or never to get after it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Are any of you hardcore athletes?  Any questions for Tealle?

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