The track at Cal State Long Beach is a serene and spacious place. The nearby Pyramid adds a mystical element to the scene. Both of these athletic venues radiate the aura of greatness—championships have been won, world records have been set and countless athletes have poured their hearts into the pursuit of greatness here.
Two of those athletes—CSULB alums Misty May-Treanor and Armando Hart—forged a bond many years ago which is now paying big dividends. Hart has been instrumental in helping May-Treanor recover from a catastrophic injury, regain her championship form and make a bid for a 3rd consecutive Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball.
May-Treanor’s volleyball career is the stuff of legend. She earned two indoor volleyball state championships at Newport Harbor High, had a 36-0 record and an NCAA championship at CSULB in 1998, and, along with her partner Kerri Walsh Jennings, won Olympic beach volleyball gold medals in Athens and Beijing. It’s less widely known that Misty was an outstanding high jumper as well–she finished second at the California High School State Championships in ’93.
Armando Hart was known as Jaime Barragan (he later changed his name as part of a personal transformation) and was captain of the CSULB track team in 1995 when he met May-Treanor, who was then an unmarried Misty May. May was on the team using the high jump as a supplement to her volleyball skills. Hart was an outstanding sprinter who held the school records in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. The two developed a great camaraderie as they pursued excellence in their respective endeavors.
Hart’s running career was on the rise in 1996 when disaster struck. He’d qualified for the Atlanta Olympics and was set to compete, but he tore a hamstring muscle while training, which ended his Olympic dream. Hart is a relentlessly positive thinker, though, and he sees his injury as the best thing that ever happened to him. A series of random encounters kept his friendship with May-Treanor going.
“Misty and I had a couple of chance encounters in the years after college,” says Hart, “but in ’09 when we ran into each other again, it seemed like more than a coincidence.”
Hart had been developing his skills as a fitness trainer and gained a greater understanding of track greatness by training with Olympic champion Carl Lewis. But in 2009, he was a bit lost.
“I got to the point where one day I literally asked the Universe for guidance,” he says, “and the answer was, ‘Go to a car wash.'” Sure enough, he went to get his car washed and happened to run into May-Treanor. The two finally made a vow to start training together.
May-Treanor was at a crossroads in her life as well: after the Beijing Olympics, she’d signed on as a Dancing With The Stars contestant and was making quite a splash on the show before she ruptured an achilles tendon during a rehearsal. The achilles tendon is the biggest and strongest tendon in the human body. To rupture it is often an athletic deal-breaker and even Hart wondered if May-Treanor would ever return to volleyball. “I thought she was done,” he says.
May-Treanor applied her positivity and drive to the rehab process and eventually joined Hart at the CSULB track to benefit from his cerebral and highly developed coaching style. Little by little, she regained the confidence to commit to another Olympic campaign.
A typical track workout with May-Treanor would begin with an “active, dynamic warm-up to get the upper and lower body in harmony,” says Hart. The warm-up also included drills that simulate movements used in volleyball competition. The main substance of the workout included pulling football sleds, running hills in a CSULB parking structure and running while being held back by resistance bands. May-Treanor also did volleyball drills while working with 15 lb. medicine balls.
“Throughout the workout, I’d remind her to focus on her breathing as a cue for being present,” says Hart.
Hart and May-Treanor trained at CSULB throughout 2010. Hart was delighted when early last year Misty told him she was going to go for gold medal number three in London.
Hart says he has to remind himself to breathe deep and relax while following his friend’s London exploits. But, gazing out across the track where he and May-Treanor spent so many hours transforming themselves, he seems quite content.
“No matter what happens, she’s already won,” he says.
Armando Hart offers a variety of fitness training programs to the public, and is also providing off-season training to promising high school athletes. You can read more about Armando at zeropointperformance.com; you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (562) 972-6603.