USA Beach Volleyball’s April Ross on the Foods That Fuel All Those Crazy Dives

USA Beach Volleyball’s April Ross on the Foods That Fuel All Those Crazy Dives photo

Remember eating a ton of spaghetti made by Joey’s mom before a track meet in middle school? Yeah, these Olympian meals are nothing like that. In the lead-up to the Rio Summer Games, we spoke to five badass athletes about their good luck foods, what they eat the night before the biggest race of their life, and more important—how they celebrate after it’s all over.

Beach Volleyball is one of the Olympic events that always makes us bite our fingernails. Are they wearing enough SPF? Does sand hurt? WATCH OUT, BALL! But April Ross and Jennifer Kessy made it look like a casually super-competitive day at the shore in the 2012 Summer Games, taking home a silver medal and some London sand, probably.

Now Ross and partner Kerri Walsh-Jennings are diving, serving, and bumping their way to Rio (mark your calendar for August 17 and 18). California-native Ross took a moment from her training to reveal what she eats the night before a big match.

april-ross-rio-olympics-portraitPhoto: Harry How/Getty Images

But first, let’s pause for a snack. You might expect an Olympian’s bag to be stuffed with hi-tech protein bars invented by NASA, but Ross is a fan of Uncrustables. You know, the crustless, individually wrapped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, perfect for a seven year old’s lunch box. Or an Olympian’s! “They’re a perfect pick me up if I feel like I’m crashing either during a workout or in between,” said Ross, who’s a spokesperson for the snack.

The night before a match she’s having a combination of protein, carbs, veggies, and fat. Plus lots and lots of water in anticipation of all that time in the sun. “My go-to protein is either salmon or steak or one of the Beyond Meat proteins,” she said, “Then I’ll add veggies, rice, pasta, or rolls and butter.” She makes sure to eat more food, rather than not enough, because it affects her energy and endurance the next day in a major way.

But before one important match, things didn’t according to plan: “I don’t experiment with food before matches,” she said, “but I once agreed to go to a local’s barbecue in Thailand the night before a tournament started, and promptly came down with debilitating food poisoning.” Lesson learned.

After dinner, she’ll meditate, including prayer and visualization in the meditation.

And then comes the big day.

Breakfast is toast with butter and scrambled eggs, and if she’s especially hungry, a side of bacon. Plus, an Americano with a splash of cream.

“I try not to eat within an hour and a half of competition, and that’s cutting it close,” she said, “Ideally, I’m done eating two hours before a match so I have plenty of time to digest.” She keeps a Gatorade protein bar on her, just in case.

Then, once all the madness is over, it’s “a nice fish or steak dinner and some red wine!” she said, “If I’m at home in Costa Mesa though, it’s definitely Mi Casa, I’ve been going there since I was a kid, and it’s just the best Mexican food ever.”

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