Rachel Wacholder spends nearly all her time on the beach, but not to escape the grind of her day job. On the contrary, the beach is where Wacholder works as a professional volleyball player and as the star of the Association of Volleyball Professionals tour. “I grew up on the beach,” the Jewish native of Laguna Beach, Calif., told The Shmooze during a phone call from Austria, where she is competing in an Olympic qualifying event with partner Tyra Turner.
But Wacholder did not always play beach volleyball. She started out indoors, progressing to the collegiate level at the University of Colorado and then to the professional level in Spain before returning home to devote time and training to a beach career. “It’s a lot harder transition than people expect,” Wacholder said. “It’s a very different game.”
Wacholder climbed to the top of the dune quickly, however, grabbing a couple of international wins before her breakout AVP campaign in 2005. In that season, Wacholder and then-partner Elaine Youngs won three tournaments, each time besting the dominant duo in the sport, Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
The 32-year-old, who said she wants to have children and will continue to play internationally only through the 2008 Olympic cycle, will be in Brooklyn’s Coney Island from August 23 to August 26 with teammate Turner, competing in the AVP Brooklyn Open. The twosome is expected to appear in Sunday’s final, which will be broadcast nationally on NBC. But this time, simply making it to the final will not suffice. “I feel like we’ve been to enough finals that it’s getting a little frustrating,” Wacholder said. “Now we need to start winning.”
This story "Leading Lady’s Power Serve" was written by Ben Ehrlich.