Jay Paris: Life’s a beach for Fendrick, the former Carlsbad High star

We’ve heard of a lawyer in blue jeans.

But one in bikini?

“I hope I never need her for that,’’ Brooke Sweat said.

Lauren Fendrick is an attorney, but also Sweat’s partner on the Associated Volleyball Professionals Tour. They’re pumped for this month’s season-opener, hoping to duplicate last year’s success.

Their days on the court have nothing to do with judges and juries. It’s all about the sand for these two, even if Fendrick, a former Carlsbad High three-sport star, has passed the bar. Currently, she’d rather pass the volleyball. “She is just so easy to play with,’’ Sweat said. “She understands the game and how to win.’’ The tandem, in their first season together, proved that in 2014.

Fendrick and Sweat advanced to five AVP championship matches, which is the good news. That they fell in each one is a bummer, although considering the opponent, not so much.

Olympians Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross prevailed each time over Fendrick and Sweat. “We were right there with them and we kind of let it slip away,’’ Fendrick said. “We have the skills and the ability.’’

The 6-foot-1 Fendrick was voted the AVP’s best female blocker last year and Sweat learned quickly how to shine off her prowess. “It’s easy to play behind that block,’’ Sweat said. Block-and-battle, that’s how this duo rolls. “We’re pretty simple,’’ Sweat said. “We both work really hard, we have the same goals in mind and we just meshed straight from the beginning.’’

But there’s an end game as well and it’s all about rockin’ in Rio. “Oh my gosh,’’ said Fendrick, a Hermosa Beach resident. “It would be a dream come true.’’ The Summer Olympics are a year out and Rio de Janeiro is what has the focus of Fendrick and Sweat.

The top two American teams advance; with most conceding Walsh-Jennings and Ross will snag one invitation. Et tu, Fendrick/Sweat? “It would just be a huge thank you and a huge showing for the team that is surrounding us and works hard, day in and day out,’’ Fendrick said. “A lot of people support us.’’

That Fendrick, 33, still has her competitive toes in the sand is noteworthy. She turned pro in 2003, after being a standout indoor volleyball and softball player at UCLA. She survived the transition from hard courts to sand, went through various partners, had her blown-out knee resurrected and plugged along.

“It looked really fun,’’ she said of her introduction to beach volleyball. “Who doesn’t want to be outside in a bikini playing a game so similar to indoor — it’s just in the sand.” But like the 98-pound weakling Charlie Atlas, Fendrick got sand kicked in her face. “I found out it was so different,’’ she said.

“I was so humbled on how hard it was to learn. “But I loved that challenge of learning a new game, a new sport. Then I had a little bit of success and just kind of climbed the ladder.’’ It included climbing out of bed in 2005 after her knee’s ACL was repaired.

But returning to the sand for spikes and digs was no guarantee. “I thought I was done and the doctor told me not to expect to recover fully,” Fendrick said. So she turned toward a legal career, even if committing a cardinal sin for an ex-Bruin: Fendrick graduated from USC’s law school.

But while hitting the books, she longed for the beach. The sands of time on her volleyball career were dwindling, so she gave it another shot. By 2008 her knee was willing and she’s been out there ever since. “I didn’t think I would be and I’m so happy to still be a part of this,” Fendrick said. “I’m just going to look at it as an opportunity to give it everything I have.”

While never forgetting where she started. “I still make it down to Carlsbad,’’ Fendrick said. “It is still one of the best places of them all.’’

Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.

This column has been updated since its original posting.

 

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