Gabby Reece Talks about Being Different, Friendships, and Marriage

Gabby Reece

If there was one athlete from the ’90s that I admired, it was the beautiful Gabby Reece. Reece who was born in La Jolla and was raised in  the U.S. Virgin Islands went to college at Florida State University where she majored in Communications. She played volleyball in college where she set two school volleyball records – solo blocks (240) and total blocks (747). After graduation, Reece played volleyball professionally. Reece’s 4-person team took first place at the first-ever Beach Volleyball World Championships held at the UCLA Tennis Center.

Gabby Reece at the LA Convention Center
Gabrielle “Gabby” Reece was one of the keynote speakers at the Ultimate Women’s Expo last May at the LA Convention Center.  During the event Reece talked about a number of topics such as: how it is growing up being different, her heroes, the importance of having a network of  female friends and the secret sauce for an 18-year public marriage.

Heroes and Role Models

When the host asked Reece who were her heroes as a kid, she said at that time there were three television channels and they were done by 10:00 at night so she didn’t really grow up with a lot of heroes. “I grew up with great teachers and a few coaches that were mentors. The real people in my life were the real role models at that time. But I do remember when I was about 15 I was introduced to a woman called ‘The Babe‘. For those of you might know Babe Didrikson Zaharias, was one of the most talented all around female athletes at that time and she was way ahead of her time. She died of cancer. Also what I appreciate about her was she was a tough woman. She’s very competitive and unapologetic for wanting to win. Of course there were Billie Jean and Navratilova, because they had exposure (in the media).”

Gabby Reece at Ultimate Women's Expo

During the event the host asked Reece at what age she realized her athletic ability?  Reese responded she was 6 ft. 3 in. by the time she was 15 so she didn’t know if she had so much ability. “I was just very big. My coach said ‘you can’t teach height’ so I think that really goes to my advantage.”

She earned her university scholarship in athletics where she said she was surprised. Later on in college, she realized she might be good in sports. “It was a late discovery for me. Growing up tall it doesn’t mean you’re awkward…. you can be athletic.” She added, “Sometimes what it’s difficult for us when we were young is actually our gift when we’re older. I think that’s actually true for all of us. Whatever made us different or weird or whatever when we were younger, that is our unique special gift later if we just see it that way. A lot of the discovery happens after the most difficult time, you don’t know that when you’re 12 or 13 and then maybe 19-20 you start realizing ‘Oh wait a second it’s ok to be different.” I was 13 when I got into volleyball and 15 when I got into basketball.

Gabby Reese Keynote Speaker

As for the person she looks up to, she mentioned her friend Karri Walsh Jenning, a mother of three and a gold medalists in beach volleyball at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics. “I admire her dedication and all of her capacity to do all the stuff  and she does it very well. She’s a great role model.”

Female Network of Friends
“I have a great husband but when you need a doctor you call your friend, if the kid is acting unusual you call your friend, if you need a recipe and trying to figure out what to make for dinner you call a friend.

Women help each other get it all done. It is helpful if you have a very good network of females. By the way, I’m a huge advocate of men too, this is not about men. We don’t need to compete against each other but we can help each other and make it so much easier. Taking care of yourselves is one of the most important things you could do.”

Gabrielle Reece

Healthy Foods and Snacks
“For me food is a very personal quest. There’s no one shoe fits all. Fruits and nuts are very easy things. I always tell my kids, ‘eat your sugar but don’t drink your sugar’.
It’s not just about healthy snacks but it’s navigating. Anything that can live in the shelf for about three years probably you don’t want to snack on.”

Marriage
With 18 years and being in the public eye Gabby shares the recipe for a good marriage.

“Forgiveness and communications. One thing I find out, is I make myself happy. Because it’s not Larry’s job to make me happy, in fact, it’s no one else’s job to make someone happy.
I talk to my husband in a language he understands. I need a little love and attention, and he said ok.”

Reece is married to big wave surfer Laird “Larry” Hamilton and has three girls. The family divides time between Hawaii and Malibu.

A lovely photo op with the towering beautiful Gabby Reece

A lovely photo op with the towering beautiful Gabby Reece

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