- Category: Around the World of Volleyball
Congrats on taking silver in the Caymans last month. Were you pleased to come out of the gate so strong in your first competition partnering with Ryan?
Ryan and I went into the Caymans trying to learn about our game. We learned a lot about what we need to get better at and have been working hard in those areas. Silver was nice but both Ryan and I would have preferred to have won.
You were with Phil for a pretty long time. How is it to play with a new partner?
Different, but Phil and I had our run and it was time for both of us to move on with different partners and different phases of our careers. Playing with Ryan is both frustrating and awesome. Frustrating, in the sense that he is a raw talent with a tremendous upside, and I want to get him to that upside as fast I can, but realize that it is a process, not an overnight thing. Awesome, in the sense that I can be a part of helping Ryan further realize his potential. He wants it bad and is willing to work his butt off to become the best he can be. I admire that drive and dedication and it makes me work harder on my own game seeing him work as hard as he does.
Between you and Phil going your separate ways and Misty May retiring, do you feel like an era has ended?
It kind of does feel that way. Especially when you factor in Matt Fuerbringer and Sean Scott looking like they are done playing as well. Historically the sport goes in waves and is cyclical. Back in the mid to late ‘90s when I first started playing on the AVP Tour, a lot of great men and women players were aging and retiring and I remember many people freaking out about who would take their respective places. Seems to me like we are again coming up on another turn of the cyclical clock.
Who are some of the teams you’ve seen/played against, either U.S. or international that you feel are ones to look out for in the future?
I think Sean (Rosenthal) and Phil should be the best USA team. Phil has been the best blocker in the states for years now and I thought Sean was the best USA defender who transitioned at the highest level last year. No one ever questioned Sean's athleticism but over the last couple of years he has made incredible strides in regards to the mental aspect of his game and it is really showing and paying dividends for him. After them it is much more wide open on the domestic front. Jake (Gibb) and Casey (Patterson) are experienced veterans and should be solid. But with Matt Furbs focusing on coaching the indoor men's national team and Sean Scott transitioning off of the beach and into the office, I feel like the rest of the teams are a bit of a crapshoot. That is two of the best blockers not only in the States, but in my opinion, the world, that look to be off the sand. Internationally I have not seen many teams. Alison (Cerutti) and Emanuel (Rego) should be good as always. Look for Pedro (Salgado) and Bruno (Schmidt) from Brazil to surprise a lot of teams. They are kicking butt down in Brazil and I suspect they will do so on the world tour as well.
You were just in the Caymans, now you’re headed to China. Is traveling to exotic locales one of the best parts of your job, or do you miss being at home with family?
It is one of the best and worst parts of the job from my perspective. The Caymans were beautiful and Ryan and I were treated very nicely so that is the positive aspect of the job. But many of the spots we go to are not what I would consider exotic locales and I miss my family more and more every year when I am traveling.
What’s a typical day in the life of a pro beach volleyball player like, at least from your perspective?
I don't like to think I am a typical pro beach volleyball player so not sure this question is for me. My generalization of the typical pro beach volleyball player lives in the South Bay or Huntington area, probably goes down to the beach to play or just do drills or hangout, doesn't have kids and is probably not married. None of these apply to me so I would say I am more of an atypical pro beach volleyball player.
Do you train year round?
I am pretty close to it. I used to take a full month off when I was in my 20's. Then it was 2 weeks off in my early to mid 30's. Now it is maybe a week off at best as I am approaching 40. Also, I like being active so when I go running, hiking, surfing etc. I don't really consider that as training anyways.
Why do they call you “The Professor?”
I am a good athlete but not a great athlete compared to many of the guys I play against. I have had to change the game to one that is a match of wits rather than brawn to give myself a fighting chance. Also, have you not noticed the "white" goatee?!!
What does the return of the AVP mean for the sport of beach volleyball?
It's great! AVP was the first beach volleyball brand name. It is the blue chip brand in beach volleyball. Others have come and gone but none have stuck. The AVP, even when it was defunct, was better known than all the other brands. Hopefully in my beach volleyball dotage I can help make the brand name I grew up with stick for good this time.
Did the lack of AVP events over the last couple of years leave a void for players and fans?
Absolutely! The AVP has been the bread and butter for USA players and it was tough to travel purely overseas for the last 2 years. Travel wears on you physically and mentally. I think AVP fans are ready to see AVP branded volleyball throughout the States again and hopefully the players and AVP can win new fans over as well.
What does the AVP mean to you personally?
The best tour ever! I grew up watching the AVP before there was the FIVB or any other tour. The best players were always playing on the AVP so I am without a doubt very nostalgic when it comes to the AVP. The AVP has provided a living for many beach volleyball players and a place to play at the highest level for any beach volleyball player throughout several decades. To play on the AVP you just have to be good enough to do so. There is no politics involved to play on the AVP. Find a partner, sign up and see if you are good enough. No country quota is involved or having someone dictate to you whether you can play in an event or not. The AVP has traditionally been how the sport should be played.
If you weren’t playing beach volleyball, what do you think you’d be doing?
Probably coaching. In 2006 I made the decision to focus exclusively on playing on the beach and stopped coaching at UCSB, even though head coach Kenny Preston was due to retire in the next year or two. Not to say I would have been hired as the head coach, but my chances of it would have been pretty good.
Okay, but if you weren’t playing beach volleyball, what would you most want to be doing?
I would have to say surfing for a living.