2008 Olympic Gold Medalists

2008 Olympic Gold Medalists
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

AVP Banquet

Last week was the AVP Banquet and I thought it went off quite well. It was the quickest most efficiently run banquet I think I have ever been too. Phil, Courtney Guerra and I all carpooled from Phil's house down to the Manhattan Beach Marriot where the AVP Banquet was being held. We got there around 7pm or so and socialized with friends and sponsors. At 8pm the banquet started and we had a nice dinner while Geeter MC'd the event. He talked about the season and the Olympics while ragging on everyone for eating while he was talking. Happens every year Geeter, get over it! :)

When Geeter was done and we had watched video highlights of the year, Leonard got up and talked about the year and going forward to next year. Then Geeter went into the awards. As you all know, Pedro Brazao got rookie of the year. Nick Lucena got most improved and tied with me for best defensive. Then Phil basically stood up on stage as he got best blocker, best offensive and MVP. All of them most definetely deserved.

Then the women got their awards and if you don't already know them they were Whitney Pavlik for rookie of the year, Nicole Branagh for most improved, Kerri Walsh for best blocker and like Phil, Misty swept the best defensive and offensive awards as well as MVP. That is probably my best run on sentence since 3rd grade!

By 9pm the banquet was done. Short and sweet. We hung out to take some pictures for about 20 minutes and then hopped back into Phil's sweet Scion. Easy drive back home by that time. I got home around 11:30 or so.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


One subject that there is a ton of stuff that I could talk about but it is either very specific to me or I don't want to give all my secrets away is of course weight lifting.

Stuff that Phil and I are doing in the weight room really is very specific to our weaknesses and what our schedule is like. I get a lot of people asking me for tips on how they should lift or what lifts they should do. Certainly I can give basic principles and lifts but what works for me may not work for you. I have weaknesses that need to be addressed and are done so in the weight room. If I told someone this is what I am doing, they might not be addressing what their weaknesses are and therefore will probably not get out of the workout what I am getting out of the workout. For reference, Phil and I do a similar workout but not the same. He does some exercises that I do not need to do and vice versa.

Also, we do some Olympic lifts and that need a platform to be able to drop the weights on. Most gyms do not have platforms to be able to do this. Also, the Olympic lifts need to be monitored by someone when you are first starting out. It is very easy to do them incorrectly and therefore hurt yourself. Lifts that we do like this are pulls and snatches. I would not suggest that anyone be doing these unless you have someone there to watch your form or have been doing them correctly for quite some time.

That being said, I think there are some lifts that anyone can do that will help your performance. Squatting is a great lift in general and very specific to volleyball. I won't say how much weight you should do because people have bad knees and backs and I don't want anyone to hurt themselves. Also realize that Phil and I are lifting heavier or lighter weights depending on the time of the season or offseason. It is constantly changing and that is specific to our beach volleyball schedule. Another thing that all volleyball players should be doing are shoulder exercises. Specifically rotator cuff exercises either with a band, free weights or cables. Maybe even all of the above. There are a lot of great exercises out there. If you are swinging at balls you need to make sure that the whole shoulder girdle is strong and won't give out on you.

Lastly, you need to be making sure your core is strong. This means lots of abdominal work. There are a lot of ab exercises you can do. We do stuff with med balls and free weights as well as no weight at all. We vary it over the course of the year in order to keep it fresh. Doing the same sit ups every day you workout can get stale. Not to mention that every exercise works the muscles a little differently.

Nothing really ground breaking here but then again I am all about the basics and Bob and Sandy, my trainers, are all about the basics as well. Essentially every volleyball player needs to work on 3 basic areas. Leg strength in order to jump higher and squats are great for that. Arm/Shoulder strength to hit the ball harder and protect your shoulder. And lastly your core area specifically your abdominals.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Almost a Second Marriage

A partnership in beach volleyball is much like a marriage with the exception of you don't bye your partner a nice diamond ring. Unless of course you really want to play with that guy or gal!

I have been very fortunate in the partners I have had. Dax and I essentially grew up together. He is much older than me (1 year) so he took the veterans roll. :) Dax and I have known each other since we were about 7 years old or so. We started playing when we were still in High School and our partnership was based more upon the friendship we developed over time than a purely business relationship. We got along together great because we have similar interests and were kind of growing up and learning the whole "AVP thing" together. We also shared the same family values and were both married which helped a couple of young guys on tour make the right decisions. In the end, he had a great opportunity to play with current gold medalist Eric Fonoimoana and in truth his game at that time had passed me by. We had a difficult 2001 with the rule changes, the AVP really struggling and going to Europe for 9 straight weeks. I think that it was the right decision as our performance on the court was starting to effect our friendship and going in different directions would be best for both our friendship and our volleyball careers. The one thing I will say is that if the court had not changed along with the rules, I think Dax and I were poised to be a dominant team. But we shall never know.

From there I played with Sean Scott for the next 4 years. I played professionally with Dax for 5 years but we had been playing together for about 6 years before that too. With Sean I was switching sides and going from the left side to the right. I struggled with that for most of the 2002 season. I figured it out by the 2003 season and played at a much higher level from there on out. Sean and I developed a good friendship as we travelled to AVP and FIVB events. We shared a lot of stories and good times and I still consider him a good friend to this day.

Playing with Phil the last 3 seasons has obviously been great. This is due much in part to our success. The reality is that when you are successful like Phil and I have been successful it becomes easy to get along. Doesn't make sense to get annoyed with little things in the hotel room when you just won an FIVB Grand Slam or an AVP event. Not to mention that you are on such a high that almost nothing would bother you anyways. Phil and I have experienced very little in lows and have had very little in the way of winning droughts. I know we had a mid-season drought of about 5 or 6 tourneys in 2007 but much of that was on the FIVB. We have faced very little adversity over our 3 year partnership. I consider that a blessing and hopefully that will continue through the 2009 season and beyond.

All three of the guys I have played with are very mellow guys. In that respect they are very much like me. None of us are "high maintenance" guys. We are content with chilling in the hotel and reading a book or shooting the you know what. We don't need to constantly be moving and doing something. Certainly I think it helps to be a Type B personality rather than a Type A when on the FIVB tour and maybe even on the AVP tour as well.

I consider Dax, Sean and Phil my friends. Regardless of what happens on the tour or has happened in the past, all 3 of these guys will remain my friend over the test of time. All of us have gone through a lot together and that is something that none of us will forget. Hope I answered your question Drew.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Olympic Games 1

I have been asked a lot about aspects of the Olympic Games. I will do my best to give a snapshot of what some of it was like and how I prepared myself.

One of the questions was how I prepared myself for the Olympics and specifically while I was in Beijing. In truth, there is no way to adequately prepare yourself for the Olympics. You can think you are prepared, but unless you have actually been there and gone through them, I don't think you can ever be completely prepared. There is nothing like competing for your country. Most of the tourneys we play in are really for money. On the AVP you are competing for yourself and whoever you are playing with. There is no bigger picture. On the FIVB you are representing your country in all of the events but you are also competing for money just like on the AVP. You are trying to make a living by playing on the AVP and FIVB circuits.

In the Olympics, there is no prize money to be won. Yes, you can cash in after the Olympics if you have done well but that is not the foremost thought on most people's mind. After all, if you take a 9th in the Olympics, chances are you will not see a penny. It is really the only tournament where you are totally competing for your country and not yourself. In retrospect, it is really easy to compete only for yourself and only for the cash. There is really very little pressure on. When you throw in the hopes of your country it changes everything. If you start to actually think about the 20 to 60 million people watching and reading about you, well, the pressure could certainly get to someone. Not to mention that you really do have the hopes and dreams of America on your shoulders. When you get stuffed straight down people cringe and go Ooohhhhhh. When you scoop and put away a ball they jump up and cheer. I have had a lot of people come up to me in the last month or so and tell me they felt they were playing with Phil and I. It is pretty special but not something you can truly prepare yourself for.

While in Beijing and actually playing I just kept my mind on what I was trying to accomplish. When we first got there I was just trying to get my bearings. Learn where everything was so I wasn't completely lost. I ate well everyday. I brought a lot of supplemental stuff. Whey Protein, some jerky, Goji berries, and vitamins and minerals to make sure I did not get sick. I ate at least 3 square meals a day. Eating wasn't a problem as we ate either at the Hilton Hotel where we stayed or at the BNU which was where the USOC had set up shop for all the athletes and coaches. Both places were serving great food and it wasn't tough to be hungry. I slept very good as well. The beds at the Hilton were top notch and super comfy. You could draw the blinds and it was pitch black inside the room. I was never so nervous that I could not sleep. Usually I thought about what I needed to do in the next game and that actually put me to sleep. I always felt like we were as prepared physically and mentally as we could be having never actually played in the Olympics.

I have talked a little about our daily routine in previous blogs. Essentially our morning started off with a good breakfast. Then we either went to the beach venue to play a match or have a quick 1 hour practice session. After our matches we would go to the BNU to lift and stretch. We would eat lunch there and then come back to the hotel. Usually we would do emails or what not in the late afternoon. We also went to some of the safe houses and went shopping for gifts for everyone back home. Then we would have dinner, usually at the hotel, and then chill for the rest of the evening. For me that usually means a book or a Sports Illustrated Magazine. That sums up pretty much everyday. Whenever we had an early morning match the next day we would always try to make sure that afternoon/evening the day before was very mellow. That is the scoop.