For power couple Amanda Dowdy Lawson and Bradley Lawson, living active lifestyles has always been a given. Amanda, the youngest of four, was born and raised in Lexington, Texas. She played numerous sports until deciding to specialize in volleyball late in her high school years.
Brad, the youngest of three, was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He grew up surfing, skateboarding, boogie boarding and playing just about every sport you can think of before, like Amanda, he chose to dedicate himself to indoor volleyball. Today the pair is actively making waves in volleyball communities—Brad as a coach and Amanda as an active professional.
Like many other beach volleyball players, Amanda’s career started indoors. After fulfilling her dream of representing a Texas school at the D1 level at Texas Tech, she played professionally in Germany and Puerto Rico.
But after moving back home to Texas two years later, Amanda shifted her focus to beach volleyball—eventually setting her sights on joining California’s ultracompetitive Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP). She went on to become the AVP’s Newcomer of the Year in 2014 and continues to play for the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, with whom she’s won one gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
All the while, Brad created an impressive volleyball career of his own. He played on Stanford’s elite men’s volleyball team, becoming a three-time First-Team All- American as an outside hitter, as well as an NCAA MVP. After a stint in professional European indoor volleyball leagues in Germany and Greece, he moved to the South Bay in 2015. He turned to coaching volleyball after playing for the AVP for a year.
Through mutual friends, Amanda and Brad met at the Hermosa Beach Pier. “My immediate thought was, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s tall and seems like a nice guy.’ I’m a tall woman, and where I come from in Texas there aren’t many tall men,” Amanda says with a laugh.
After a spilled drink and a great night of conversation, the two started dating a few months later. Both being accomplished athletes, a passion for active living became a core component of their relationship. They push each other consistently—on and off the court.
“When we try to compete together, there’s a lot of competitive energy between us,” Brad says. “I think we push each other in a really healthy way.”
“Brad is my favorite person to compete against,” Amanda says. “Nothing gets me going more than playing against him because I always want to beat him.”
“When we try to compete together, there’s a lot of competitive energy between us. I think we push each other in a really healthy way.”
Amanda encourages Brad to take care of his body in ways he’s not always strict about, like eating clean and getting enough sleep. “I would say Amanda does an exceptional job of taking care of herself,” Brad shares. With her reminders, he finds himself living his best life.
On the other hand, Brad is constantly supporting Amanda’s career and helping her grow. “He’s my sounding board for everything in life,” she says. Using his interest in marketing, Brad helps Amanda brand herself professionally. He created her website, sponsorship portfolios and continues to help her shape her public image as an athlete and person.
“Not only are we vouching for one another, but we’re a team,” Brad says. “It’s a vote of confidence to know I can help her with this and she can help me with that.”
Despite their commitment to the South Bay—Brad as a coach for Mira Costa High School’s boys varsity volleyball team and Amanda’s professional AVP career—the couple has always dreamed of living closer to family. They bought a house near Amanda’s family in Texas, with plans to move after Brad’s coaching season. After COVID-19 cut short Brad’s coaching position and postponed Amanda’s tournaments, the duo found their plans expedited.
“It basically shook everything upside down and around. I remember looking at Brad and telling him there was no reason to be paying for a house [in Texas] and paying rent here if I’m not competing and you don’t have a job,” says Amanda. “We literally packed and were out within two or three days.”
Now Brad and Amanda are living just outside Austin, facing a new set of challenges and opportunities to push each other. Brad is pursuing a long-time interest in marketing, graphic design and all things creative, working as a social media marketer for his in-laws’ plumbing business.
Despite the difficulties that come with adjusting an entire professional training regimen during a global pandemic, Amanda has stayed true to her commitment to health, exercise and her career. With Brad’s help, she’s staying ready to return to the South Bay regularly once her AVP tournaments start again.
“The South Bay is the mecca of beach volleyball, and you don’t get that experience anywhere else in the world,” Amanda says. “But even so, the most important thing I’m grateful for is that volleyball and the South Bay have given me my husband.”
Brad feels the same way. “I’m really thankful for the experience of that active, healthy lifestyle from the South Bay. There are so many people out on The Strand biking, jogging, playing volleyball, surfing. I’ll always remember the weather. And I found my wife, whom I love so much. That’s the biggest takeaway.”
AMANDA AND BRAD’S YEAR IN HEALTH
Brad: We eat a plant-focused diet with a lot of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains. I love the way my body feels when fueled by wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients. It’s really nice that my wife and I are on the same page when it comes to food!
Amanda: During the week I have a consistent, at-home workout program provided by Game Ready Performance in Hermosa Beach. Right now I am training three to four times a week, depending on what I am preparing for. My workouts are primarily focused on neurokinetics, injury prevention and functional movement. This helps my body learn how to fire the appropriate muscles with max efficiency and to utilize proper movement patterns in all planes of motion.
Amanda: We really enjoy being outside and in nature: hiking, surfing, paddleboarding, bike-riding, planting and working in our garden, lake-swimming or going to the beach for a fun afternoon in the ocean. I think it’s important to incorporate activity that allows you to not be so structured.
SPORTS I’M NOT GOOD AT:
Brad: Yoga and basketball. But I still love a good down dog and always enjoy shooting around on a local outdoor court.