Ask the Pro(s): Lane Carico & Summer Ross

Lane Carico and Summer Ross competing on the AVP tour.

Lane Carico and Summer Ross teamed up on the beach midway through the 2015 season. Carico, 25, and Ross, 23, collected two fifths in FIVB Open tournaments and a ninth at the Yokohama Grand Slamtheir first international tournament as a duo. On the AVP tour, they took a second and two thirds.

Volleyball magazine: What has this offseason been like for you two?

Lane Carico: When I reflect on this offseason, our first one as teammates, there are quite a few things that come to mind.

First and foremost, I think about purpose. We have a goal, to reach the Olympics, and our offseason is guided by that purpose. With such a strong sense of purpose behind our actions both on and off the court, our determination to grow and progress towards our goal is so tangible. With such potent fuel coming from within, we have created an atmosphere to breed success through commitment, hard work, perseverance, creativity, and collaboration. Commitment to doing what is needed to achieve our purpose is particularly critical and needs to be honored every day.

The second thing that jumps out at me is our willingness to explore and wrestle with what is uncomfortable. As athletes and humans, we are subject to experiencing discomfort in the unknown and with change. Summer and I have both embodied a greater degree of openness and willingness to explore the game in ways that are new and quite uncomfortable for us. By trying new things and getting uncomfortable, we learn so much about ourselves. Even if we dont immediately adopt massive changes into our game, we certainly gain knowledge that helps us broaden our perspective and further sharpen how we play the game and relate to it as individuals. Stepping into uncomfortable territory has also given us a chance to improve our capacity for self-awareness and self-control by becoming more familiar with our bodies responses to discomfort. Increasing these capacities is quite valuable to us, because the nature of traveling the world to compete at the highest level of the sport is full of surprises and unknown territory, in which we can make great gains where human nature might otherwise knock us off our path. Sometimes you just have to get uncomfortable and take some risks to discover the otherwise hidden knowledge and awareness.

Thirdly, I cannot ignore how much fun we have had this offseason. Having fun in the process of striving toward our goals has been so incredible and has fueled this offseason. We work hard, and we have fun doing it. We recover, and we have fun doing it. We travel, and Im sure you can guess, we have fun doing it! We were probably the only team that went on a vacation together (to Hawaii) right after we finished traveling the whole FIVB tour together, and we had a blast. It never ceases to amaze me just how much finding a way revel in day-to-day experiences helps bring energy and motivation into what might otherwise seem insanely tedious, discouraging, and painful at times. When you find a way to enjoy the process, you are not only seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but you can experience bright light along the way and let it aid you in reaching your destination.

Summer Ross: Offseason has been amazing this year. Lane and I have a ton of fun on the court, but we are also adventure buddies off the court. We went to Hawaii a few weeks after our last tournament in Turkey. We hiked super far up the lush Hawaiian terrain, did sprints in front of Pipeline, surfed, and carried rocks under water! I actually had to get some stitches when I cut my knee on the reef, so I’ll be way more careful next time we go.

When my stitches healed up we dove straight into practicing for the 2016 season. We wanted to get an early start to improve our skills and come out firing in the first tournament in February. Practices have been great. Since we partnered up in the middle of the last season, it feels good to get all these reps together and figure out what type of sets in certain situations of the game work best for us. We are working on all these technical tune-ups to make our game super smooth. The goal is that when we start competing again in 2016, we don’t have to think about the technical stuff, it’s just there and part of our game.

VBM: How are you feeling about how youre playing and gelling as a team, and what will you have to do in the coming months to make your Olympic dream come true?

LC: I love the way we are growing in our team play. We want to help each other have the best possible chance for success and high performance, and this will be something we focus on in the coming months as we strive to make our Olympic dream come true. We have been working furiously to learn and train skills that help us bring the best performance out of each other, not only out of ourselves. When we teamed up in the middle of last season, we didnt have much time to work on finding a rhythm together, so we are super excited to merge our individual games to create a team capable of Olympic success.

SR: Im so excited to play the 2016 season with Lane. We are extremely amped up to try and get to the Olympics in Rio. We need a bunch of solid finishes and some tournament wins to get there. Anything is possible. All we have to do is continue our positive mindsets and keep hustling on the court. The combo of positivity and hustle makes the goal possible and within reach. Go USA!