Ex-Trojans April Ross, Lori Okimura Elected To USA Volleyball Board Of Directors

    April Ross

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    July 17, 2014

    LOS ANGELES - Two former Trojans have been elected to the USA Volleyball Board of Directors.

    April Ross, an All-American on USC's 2002 and 2003 women's indoor volleyball NCAA champs and a 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist in beach volleyball, is the Board's female beach volleyball player representative.

    Lori Okimura, who received her bachelor's and master's degrees from USC while interning in the Trojan athletic department and now is the president/CEO of Creative Sports Strategies, was picked as the Board's chair.

    Both were elected to four-year terms.

    Ross was the FIVB Rookie of the Year in 2007 and has gone on to win 15 FIVB Tour titles. She was the first U.S. woman to start her career with three FIVB victories before winning domestically. With over $1.2 million in career earnings, she earned the most valuable player of the AVP in 2013 and teamed with fellow Trojan alum Jennifer Kessy to earn AVP Team of the Year. She now has partnered with Kerri Walsh Jennings to win five FIVB titles since forming a team in late 2013.

    "Since the sport has afforded me many opportunities, I feel very compelled to give back to the volleyball community and USAV," said Ross, who has a bachelor's degree from USC in international marketing and won collegiate volleyball's Honda Award in 2003. "I want to help shape the sport going into the future, looking out for the interests of the players, and being an integral part of developing the emergence of the beach volleyball pipeline.

    "I am very passionate about sand volleyball, I love playing it, I love watching it and I only want the best for the sport and its players. I believe what is happening right now with the growth into college and juniors is crucial to the future and it needs to be fostered in the right way, and I want to be a part of that. To achieve success, it is my belief that open discussions, open minds, and a willingness to work together across the two disciplines of the sport is required."

    Okimura becomes the second woman and first Asian-American to serve as chair. She has extensive experience in sales, marketing and promotion of various major volleyball and beach volleyball organizations and events, including several USAV Junior National Qualifiers.

    "This is a very humbling moment," Okimura said. "I've spent my entire life involved in volleyball, beach volleyball and, most recently, learning about sitting volleyball. I have a deep appreciation for those serving in our sport, the very resourceful and diligent staff of USAV, and especially the men and women who represent the U.S. at the highest levels.

    "This opportunity to lead is one that I take very seriously; to hear from all sides of our organization, and to address our needs moving forward with a commitment to transparency and continued support of our USA teams and programs."

    Okimura joined the USAV board in October of 2012 as the beach volleyball at-large director. She has a long and successful career in the sports industry, having amassed a unique portfolio of professional experience in business management, media relations, marketing and manufacturing.

    In 1995, Okimura joined Mikasa Sports, an Olympic volleyball supplier, as sports marketing director. She worked with the AVP Pro Beach Tour and FIVB with beach volleyball beginning in the early 1990s, serving as Technical Manager of the 1997 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Los Angeles, and in 2004 began a five-year tenure as the FIVB Technical Supervisor for the FIVB World Tour, a 40-stop, 15-country circuit.

    In 1993, she co-founded the Southern California Volleyball Institute, an indoor volleyball training facility in Anaheim, Calif., where the Magnum Volleyball Club produced more than 300 collegiate all-American players, professional indoor and beach players, and U.S. National Team and Olympic Team players.

    Okimura was appointed to the USAV International Beach Commission from 1999 to 2001 and was honored by USA Volleyball with the 2000 Robert Lindsay Meritorious Service Award for her distinguished to the sport at the executive level.