He is The Thin Beast, a gold medalist, perhaps the greatest American blocker of all time, if not in the whole world.
But if you'd have asked him in college if he would have ever been a beach volleyball player, his answer would have been a resounding no. But when you're nearly 7 feet tall, can set better than anyone on the planet, side out nearly every time and are peerless at the net, well, a career on the beach is a no-brainer.
Enjoy my conversation with Dalhausser, and excuse the rough sound quality.
I made a bet with Ben Vaught, my de facto West Coast little brother, prior to the season. After every podcast I put up, he asked when he could be on it. So I told him, not thinking he would actually accomplish this until perhaps Manhattan, that he could be on the podcast when he qualified.
Well, it took him one event to do so. Ben, also known as Uncle Ben or Benny Boo Boo or Crack Shack, rolled through the Huntington Beach qualifier, stunning four-time Olympian Reid Priddy and Canadian Olympian Chaim Schalk in the final round. He cried a little. Hell, I was damn near tears, too.
So here is our conversation. We'll cover:
- His experience qualifying on the AVP as a 20-year-old.
- What it's like being in the players' tent for the first time.
- The number of training opportunities it has since opened up.
- Ben's progression through the years, and how he got so damn good so fast.
- Beating Olympians
- Playing Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb
Enjoy, and welcome back to the Paper Courts Podcast!
Sara Hughes was eight years old when she knew exactly what she wanted to do: She was going to play beach volleyball. And she was going to do it in the Olympics.
Fifteen years later, she's on pace to do just that.
A standout at Mater Dei, Hughes was the Orange County Player of the Year and an All-American, which has preceded a brilliant, unprecedented career at USC. As a Trojan, Hughes has won three consecutive pairs national championships. In her junior year, partnered with Kelly Claes, the two went undefeated, dropping just one set the entire season.
Though still playing under the amateur status of the NCAA, Hughes has already made an AVP final and taken a set off of Kerri Walsh and April Ross.
Listen in as we discuss her life of beaches and volleyballs and uninterrupted dominance.
He was there for beach volleyball's inaugural appearance in the Olympic Games -- and he came away with a silver medal.
Mike Dodd, partnered with Mike Whitmarsh, cemented his legacy as one of beach volleyball's greats, though his legacy goes far beyond what he did on the court.
He has since coached Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal in two more Olympic Games, and Dodd will discuss in depth his Olympic experiences as both a player and a coach.
It wouldn't be wrong to put Mike Dodd on the Mount Rushmore of beach volleyball.
The man won five Manhattan Beach Opens and secured a silver medal in the 1996 Olympic Games, the first in which beach volleyball was a sport.
On Paper Courts, we discuss his first love of basketball, being drafted by the San Diego Clippers, the founding of the AVP Tour and much more.
Volleyball's greatest player shows why he's also the sport's greatest ambassador, discussing his position with the United States womens national team, re-emphasizing the importance of humility, and having a laugh about how he was introduced into coaching in the first place.
Listen in for part two of Travis Mewhirter's conversation with Kiraly.
There has never been a point in which Karch Kiraly has not met success. In high school, he won a state championship. At UCLA, where he majored in, of all things, biochemistry, he won three national titles. As a member of the United States indoor national team, he won two gold medals. As a beach virtuoso, he won the inaugural gold medal and was fittingly named the FIVB Player of the Century.
Kiraly is, simply, the GOAT.
And yet, his prevailing message is an inspiring one: Humility. In spite of his many accomplishments, Kiraly remains grounded in a growth mindset.
Listen in to his inspiring message.
Most first heard Sean Scott's name in 1999, when he earned the AVP Rookie of the Year. Over the next 13 years of his career, he would win 24 tournaments, rising to the top of the AVP ranks with partner John Hyden.
On the podcast, Scott will discuss with Travis Mewhirter his upbringings in volleyball-mad Hawaii, grinding it out as a part-time worker to keep the volleyball dream alive, why he and Hyden didn't give the 2012 Olympics a shot, and much more.
In the echelons of the best defenders in beach volleyball history, Todd Rogers was a transcendent figure in the sport of beach volleyball.
The 1997 AVP Rookie of the Year went on to win 54 domestic events and 24 international, including the 2008 Olympic gold medal in Beijing with partner Phil Dalhausser.
On the podcast, Rogers will discuss how he almost pursued soccer instead of volleyball, his legendary partnership with Phil Dalhausser, and the role he has taken on since as the head coach of the Cal Poly volleyball team.
Thanks for listening and don't forget to drop a review on iTunes!
Theo Brunner almost gave up volleyball before he ever really got started playing on the AVP Tour. Now, he's one of the top blockers on the AVP Tour and making a name for himself on the FIVB Tour, with his recent partnership formation with Olympian Casey Patterson.
On the podcast, Brunner and Travis Mewhirter will talk about his journey through volleyball:
- Being recruited to UC Santa Barbara off of nothing but a basketball highlight tape.
- Playing for and with beach volleyball legend Todd Rogers.
- The difficulties of making a living in beach volleyball.
- His future aspirations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Listen in, don't forget to leave a review on iTunes, and have a very, very merry Christmas - ya filthy animals.