Pepperdine Voice Magazine
Former Pepperdine Athlete Excels on AVP Tour
by Sarah Fisher
Stacy Rouwenhorst ('03) spends a lot of time at the beach. But this California native isn't lounging by the shore or splashing in the waves; she's hard at work as a professional beach volleyball player.
At 6'3", Rouwenhorst is perfect for her sport, ready to slam the ball over the net before the opposition has time to respond. It's a talent that has seen her rise from a U.S. 100th ranking to an impressive 24th in just four short years.
Her goal is to take that progress and channel it towards the ultimate sporting prize: Olympic recognition in the 2012 games. In the meantime she teaches math and physical education to junior high school students during the school year, and tours heavily with the Association of Volleyball Professionals—better known as the AVP—during the summer.
A standout at Pepperdine, Rouwenhorst was named to the All-West Coast Conference (WCC) team all four years and earned WCC Freshman of the Year in 1999. Ranked in Pepperdine's top five in both kills and hitting percentage, she was selected All-Pacific Region twice. With Jennifer Fopma ('01), her former partner and best friend since age 7, she helped the team set a school record of 25 consecutive wins in 2003.
Rouwenhorst praises how much she learned from Waves head coach Nina Matthies, whose memory of the exceptional student-athlete is still fresh five years after Stacy graduated with a degree in accounting.
"Stacy's a rare combination in that she might be the absolute nicest person I ever coached, but she's also one of the most competitive players too," says Matthies. "She's also one of the most versatile. She played every position except setter, and she probably could have done that too."
Now Rouwenhorst, a blocker, is taking her promising athletic career to new heights with current partner Whitney Pavlik. The demanding AVP tour has taken them everywhere from Florida to Arizona with stops in between. This summer the pair finished in fifth place in the AVP tournament in Colorado—the highest finish on the tour for both players.
Raised in Long Beach, California, Rouwenhorst's mother was a volleyball coach who instilled in her daughter an enduring love of the sport. Stacy started playing at age five and now, at only 27, has the confidence and composure of a lifelong player.
"You just can't get nervous," she says of keeping her cool during high-pressure matches, "or it shows in how you play." And of what has been called her "Amazonian" stature? "It's definitely an advantage for playing," she concedes.