HERMOSA BEACH, California — As schedules have slowly become unrolled and partnerships for the 2023 season and beyond announced, there still remained the biggest mystery on the beach:
What would April Ross and Alix Klineman do after staking their claim as the No. 1 team in the world and winning the Tokyo Olympics gold medal?
For the latter, there is no more mystery: Alix Klineman is pregnant. About five months along now, too, sharing her 6-foot-5 frame with a baby boy.
“I’m honestly in awe about the fact that I’m growing a baby inside of me and it’s going to come out in the world and live a full life,” she said. “It’s nuts.”
She announced the news to the world on Monday morning, in an Instagram post with her fiance, Teddy Purcell, a former right winger in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers.
Now in the second trimester, Klineman is, for the most part, past the morning sickness and the cravings and her energy has returned to normal. With a due date later this summer, she could very realistically return to the beach in time to make a legitimate run at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, especially with a schedule that stretches all the way until mid-December. It’s something she’s not ruling out, though she can’t guarantee anything, either.
“Right now my priority is having a healthy pregnancy and doing everything I can to deliver a healthy baby, but if everything worked out perfectly and magically maybe there would be a chance to make a last-second run at the Olympics,” she said. “I’m still holding out hope for that but at the same time I don’t feel comfortable saying 100 percent I’m doing this because I don’t know how my body is going to react, I don’t know how I’m going to feel emotionally after everything so I just feel like I have to take it one step at a time.
“You just hear so much about how it changes your world and I’m sure it’ll change mine. It’s just something I’m going to have to wait and see. Initially we were hoping this would have happened a little bit earlier just to give me a bigger and better opportunity to come back for Paris but life has its own plans so we’re just happy to be expecting a boy and to become parents and all that.”
It has been done before.
Kerri Walsh Jennings was five weeks pregnant during the 2012 Olympic Games, where she won gold with Misty May-Treanor, and went on to win bronze as a mother of three during the Rio Olympics. Laura Ludwig, who won gold at those 2016 Rio Games, is now a mother of two making a push at Paris and a fifth straight Olympics for Germany. Whether that is Klineman’s path or not is yet to be seen, and as far as priorities go, having a healthy son is far more important than winning beach volleyball matches.
She also joins a growing list of expecting mothers in the beach volleyball world. Kendra Van Zwieten is due with her first in July. Delaney Mewhirter is due in April, as is Melissa Fuchs-Powell. Angela Bensend, who has been mostly retired since 2018, is due with her second in February. Maddison McKibbin and Chelsea Hayes recently had their first, Milo, who is just a few weeks old. Milo’s cousin, Storm, is the year-and-a-half-old daughter of Riley McKibbin and Carli Lloyd, who is currently playing in the Italian Superlega for UYBA Volley.
Suffice it to say: The players tent could be doubling as a daycare center in the years to come.
“We want two or three but we’re going to see how this one goes,” Klineman said. “Everyone says it’s the hardest but best thing ever.”
Little changes, then, in the partnership landscape. The only remaining questions are on Ross’ future, and the handful of talented players who have expressed international aspirations, namely Jennings, Zana Muno, Molly Turner, Maddie May Anderson, Deahna Kraft, Allie Wheeler, and former great Logan Tom, who has been practicing in Hermosa this winter.