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Friday, August 6, 2010
People Much Better Than Me


As if the Manhattan Beach, Calif., Six-Man Volleyball Tournament doesn't already have enough weird sights -- one men's team played this time in kilts and tam o' shanters -- there was this one last Saturday afternoon:

Fifty people on their hands and knees in the sand at Court 27, one of them being two-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh.

Dressed as a Venetian gondolier (don't ask), she'd dug a ball out and her wedding ring had gone flying.

Yes, this is the same wedding ring she lost at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she and partner Misty May-Treanor won the gold medal. The ring is a simple gold band but inside is the inscription "Six Feet of Sunshine," which is what she's called by her husband, tour pro Casey Jennings. Convinced it was gone, Walsh became Six Feet of Bummed. She called Jennings in America and begged him to make her another with the same inscription.

But eight hours after it was lost the ring was found by a ball boy, who was helped when NBC showed the play in super slo-mo, pinpointing the area where it fell.

This time, no NBC, no luck. "There were about 50 of us, on hands and knees, combing the whole area," said Brian Morris of Hermosa Beach, Calif. "But it was like a needle in a haystack. Finally, Kerri said we should give up and let the next game take the court."

But the next day, a man walked up to Walsh with a metal detector in his left hand and the ring in the right. "He said it was near the trash can," Walsh says. "He wouldn't let me give him anything. I offered him money, a hug, signed balls, a beer, anything! But he just gave it to me and left."

Any lessons in all this, Kerri?

"Yeah. Tape."

Walsh's team lost in the finals.

The Six-Man appearance, believe it or not, was part of Walsh's comeback plan to try to three-peat at the 2012 London Olympics. She's had two baby boys in the past two years (Joey in 2009 and Sundance this year), and has her sights set on reuniting with May-Treanor (who's been partnering with Nicole Branagh) and finding gold.

Medal, that is, not ring.

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