Ronda Rousey is the most popular and probably most dominant female athlete on the planet at this moment (sorry, Serena) but it wasn’t long ago when the 28 year old was a wide-eyed teenage judo champion from Santa Monica, California winning medals all over the world.

For her efforts, the 14-year old Rousey was named one of Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd in an issue that hit newsstands on September 11th. Yes, that September 11th.

Every time Rousey dominates another opponent in UFC, or does anything remotely notable in the world of sports (which is to say, does anything, because everything Rousey does these days is notable), someone in sports media pulls out this old SI issue to remind us of what, and who, she once was.

But what about the other five faces? What ever happened to them?


Nancy Metcalf, Volleyball

Metcalf was one of the top volleyball players in America in 2001, earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors to cap off a wonderful college career. She represented the United States in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece where the women’s volleyball team finished a terribly disappointing fifth place. Metcalf then missed the 2008 Olympics with a torn labrum and despite working to make the 2012 team, was not selected to go to London.

After her college career, Metcalf played professionally in Puerto Rico and Azerbaijan, which apparently has or had a professional women’s volleyball league in a bit of news that is as surprising to me as I’m sure it is to you. Metcalf retired from professional volleyball in 2014, and spoke with Jack Mitchell of KLIN about her career in an interview you can listen to here, if so inclined.


Johnson Wagner, Golf

Wagner turned pro in 2002 and has been on the PGA Tour rather consistently since 2007, earning a to-date $9.3 million in career earnings plus nearly another $700,000 on the tour. That’s about 10 times what Ronda Rousey has made as an in-ring fighter, which is kind of hilarious given their profiles today. (I think with endorsements this is probably a little closer.)

Wagner’s three career PGA victories came at the 2008 Shell Houston Open, the 2011 Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun and the 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii. Wagner has one second place finish this season, losing in a playoff to J.B. Holmes at this year’s Shell Houston Open. The other guy in that playoff? Another 21-year old golfer. Some kid named Spieth. Maybe he could be in Faces in the Crowd someday.


Beth O’Connor Baker, Swimming

Baker was already established in the swimming world when she made it to Faces in the Crowd as a 40-something who broke four world records in the 40-44 age group in 2001, serving as an assistant swim coach at American University from 1999 to, per her LinkedIn page, the present.

Baker has also serves as the head coach of the Overlee Swim Club in northern Virginia since 2004. This season, Overlee recorded its second-consecutive undefeated season in the Northern Virginia Swimming League.


Jonathan Wade, Track and Field

Wade was a two-sport athlete at Tennesee, playing football in addition to running track, before getting drafted in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.

Wade played in every game for St. Louis in 2007 and 2008, mostly on special teams or as a back-up. He started four games for the Rams in 2009, the year the team finished 1-15.

The following season, Wade played for the Detroit Lions, appearing in eight games with four starts. He then bounced to the Bengals later that season, starting three games for them, before finishing his career with the Miami Dolphins in 2011.


Quinn Carney, Lacrosse

Carney was one of the best lacrosse players in the country, helping the University of Maryland win fourgh-straight national championships, and parlayed her collegiate career and time with the U.S. national team—she was named to the 2005 All-World team—into coaching jobs at both Stanford and her alma mater, Maryland.

In 2013, Carney—now Carney Burke—was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Carney Burke is no longer in athletics, working for a year at, per LinkedIn, before moving to Thumbtack, Inc, where she works in San Francisco with her husband, Matt, who is the Product Team Coordinator and was the director of soccer operations at Maryland when Carney was an assistant for the lacrosse team. Interesting to note, Matt Burke met his now wife at Maryland after a stint as the U.S. Soccer U-17 Men’s National Team coordinator.

None of the other Faces in this Crowd are nearly as famous as Rousey, though we shouldn’t feel too bad, as none of them get punched in the face for a living.

Come to think of it, with how dominant Rousey has been in her career, she’s not getting punched much either.

About Dan Levy

Dan Levy has written a lot of words in a lot of places, most recently as the National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. He was host of The Morning B/Reakaway on Sirius XM's Bleacher Report Radio for the past year, and previously worked at Sporting News and Rutgers University, with a concentration on sports, media and public relations.

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