August 24, 2010 01:00 PM

Kerri Walsh has taken home two Olympic gold medals in beach volleyball with partner Misty May-Treanor.

But she has two even bigger accomplishments to her name: Sons Joseph Michael, 15 months, and Sundance Thomas, 3 months, with fellow volleyball star Casey Jennings.

In her latest blog, Walsh, 32, explains how she and Casey chose names for their two boys — drawing inspiration from family, friends — and Butch Cassidy!

Courtesy Kerri Walsh

A lot of you have been wondering about the names of our sons. Why did we choose to go with such a traditional name in Joseph Michael and then go the opposite direction with Sundance Thomas? How could we do that to our boys?! They’ll be ruined for life! Well believe it or not, we were very thoughtful when it came to the naming process and we absolutely love the names of our boys.

It was a piece of cake naming Joey. When Casey and I first found out that we were expecting, we settled on Joseph right away. Regardless of whether we were having a boy or a girl, we wanted a “Joey” — it’s a family name for both of us. Casey is the youngest of five boys and the brother closest in age to him and his best friend is Joey. Easy. For me, Joseph is my father’s middle name — which I have always loved — and I love that my son shares that with him.

Joey’s middle name was initially going to be Thomas, just like his Poppa. Sadly a few months before Joey was born, a wonderful man and a dear friend of ours passed away. Michael comes from our beloved friend, Michael John Whitmarsh, and we are so proud to have honored our friend in such a special way. Joey was named after some amazing men — strong, funny, loving, wonderful men — and it most definitely suits him.

Courtesy Kerri Walsh

Now coming up with Sundance Thomas is an entirely different story, as you can imagine. Sundance is a name that I initially said, “No way!” to. How could we do such a thing to our child?! He’ll be ridiculed! 😉

Well, I obviously changed my mind and here is the reason why: Initially, Sundance was going to be named Kelly Thomas. We found the name Kelly from a character in a movie we both like. Kelly was the father figure and he was so kind and loving and showed such strength. I loved the name, but Casey never truly did. Kelly remained the chosen name until late in my third trimester, when Casey started to throw out suggestions for another name. Neither of us could find a name that fit the little angel in my belly until…

When Casey threw out the name Sundance his eyes lit up like the sun and he smiled so big and bright. “Baby,” he said. “Can you imagine a little Sundance?! Picture our 5-year-old little boy shaking hands and introducing himself at school. ‘Hello! my name is Sundance,’ in his cute little voice. And then when he’s older, sitting on his porch watching his grandkids run around — ole Sundance!”

What about all the years in between, I thought? That’s a lot of years to have to deal with an unusual name, especially when people can be so unkind and judgmental. Casey and I continued to discuss the name but to tell you the truth, in my heart I settled on that name pretty darn quickly.

The way Casey spoke about the name made me fall in love with it. He spoke of his brothers running around like little cowboys while growing up. Exploring, having so many adventures, learning the ways of the world together. He spoke of our boys doing the same.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a favorite movie in our household. Casey introduced it to me and I absolutely love it. I love it for many reasons, but mainly I love the relationship between Butch and Sundance — so much love and respect. Such a good balance between the two and they both would have done anything for each other. That’s what we wanted for our boys. Love, respect, self-confidence and wisdom through experience.

Casey helped me to see the beauty in the name Sundance, and made me realize that our boy deserved such a strong and special name. Sundance Thomas — I absolutely LOVE IT!! Joseph Michael and Sundance Thomas Jennings. Two beautiful names for two wonderful boys. Names chosen out of love, respect and a sense of cowboy adventure.

Courtesy Kerri Walsh

All my best,

— Kerri Walsh

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