Class of 2019Active: 2000 - 2016
30 Open Victories
In a sport filled with competitive type-A personalities, Jen Kessy was as competitive as they come. Whether it was the first round of an AVP regular season event, playing for an Olympic gold medal, or just a weekday practice game, Kessy had a singular, unrelenting focus on winning.
A multi-talented athlete, Kessy excelled at both swimming and volleyball at Dana Hills High School and as an indoor star at the University of Southern California where she was named an All-American her senior year.
After playing professionally indoor, Kessy switched her focus to the beach game slowly working her way up the ranks, constantly improving each season and being named the AVP’s most improved player in 2004. After pairing with, and learning from, beach legends such as Barbara Fontana, Nancy Mason and Holly McPeak, she found the perfect partner in a young April Ross in 2007. The two clicked immediately and soon became one of the top teams on tour.
Kessy had her first international win with Ross in Stavanger, Norway and the two would go on to win 26 times together, a remarkable feat given they were playing in the same era as Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. In 2009, Kessy and Ross beat the best in the world winning the FIVB World Championships in 2009. Three years later in Beijing, they brought home the silver medal, losing in the finals to fellow Americans Kerri and Misty.
Kessy and Ross were named the USA Volleyball Beach team of the tear twice and the AVP Team of the Year in 2013.
Kessy was an extremely versatile player, comfortable at the net and playing defense. This versatility was clearly on display when she won back-to-back individual Best of the Beach events in 2008 and 2009.
After Beijing, Kessy took some time away from the tour following the birth of her daughter Aila with husband Andy Ces, a former French professional beach player. But she wasn’t done competing and returned to tour with a vengeance, notching one final victory at the New York AVP with Emily Day in 2015.
While Jen is now retired from playing, she is far from retired from the sport. She has played an instrumental role in the swift development of the current #1 U.S. team with her former partner April Ross and Alix Klineman as their coach.
There is certainly no one in the sport better suited to teach what it means to be a true competitor.