Once labor's over, the work begins Volleyball: On women's teams, the physical changes of motherhood are just one more opponent to be beaten. The tiny uniforms await.

Beach Watch

June 07, 1996|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,SUN STAFF

Next up in our breathless coverage of the hottest game in town: Babes who have had babies!

The Final Four women's teams in the U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball trials have five children among them. But we dare you to pick which of the lithe and leggy competitors are the mothers -- there's one on each team.

"Talk about motivation to get in shape: I had my baby in January and I had to be in a swimsuit by the end of April -- in front of hundreds of people and on TV," says Linda Hanley, who has two sons, ages 3 and 5.

"Where are your Speedos, excuse me!" she calls out to two male players practicing in the their usual baggy swim trunks.

Hanley, who will turn 36 tomorrow, doesn't travel with her boys -- she likes to keep the two worlds separate. But she's always a mother: At a tournament in Austin, Texas, last weekend, a child in the stands fell, hit her head and began crying so hard that Hanley felt too bad to continue. "I had to call a time-out," she says. "She was really hurt."

Janice Harrer, another mom-player, packs up husband Tom, a physical therapist, and 2-year-old daughter Hannah whenever she can.

Hannah should feel quite at home in this milieu -- she has been there almost from the start.

"Janice was in a tournament in Florida and she called me and said, 'Tom, I think I'm ovulating,' " Tom recalls. "I said, 'OK, come on home.' "

His wife competed through the first 3 1/2 months of her pregnancy and returned 10 weeks after Hannah was born. "She's been to every tournament," the 35-year-old player says as Hannah cavorts around the giant sandbox built on the Inner Harbor for this week's matches. "I would breast-feed her between matches.

"I'm more of a homebody," she adds. "One of the hardest things for me is the traveling. It's a hundred times better for me if my husband and daughter are along."

The three went to the Orioles game together Wednesday night -- neither mom nor daughter made it to the ninth inning -- and, while Harrer was doing a spot for NBC yesterday morning, her husband and her volleyball partner Gayle Stammer took Hannah to the Maryland Science Center. Then it was time for practice -- Hannah helped by shagging balls, Tom by serving and coaching -- and then, nap time.

The players say that because volleyball is both demanding and forgiving -- requiring use of the entire body, but played on a softer surface that other sports -- they keep in good shape, making recovery from pregnancy easier.

Give up on who the other two moms in the Final Four are? Gail Castro and Dennie Shupryt-Knoop, who had her baby in February 1994.

Pub Date: 6/07/96

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