Has it really been like 3 weeks since I’ve posted anything on here? Ouch, anyone who was a fan is (rightfully) long gone by now. I mean, I could point out that I have a girl now, so I no longer need to show off how creative and witty I am to the world. But if I’m being honest, I just haven’t felt like writing anything on here. I’ve always been the “Jack of all trades, master of none” kind of guy, because I want to experience as much different stuff as possible but generally lose interest shortly after I’ve tried it. And unfortunately, if feels like this blog may be falling into that category, as I just picture myself making the same jokes and telling the same stories over and over again. I’m not saying I’m going to shut this down or anything, I just think I’m going to be updating it a lot less frequently. Besides, I’ve been writing for the AVP every week in a segment called “Tuesdays with Avatar” which is every bit as interesting as this blog. I’m also debating writing a book, mainly so that I can say that I’m an author in the smuggest tone possible.
My self-published e-book sold over 6 copies on Kindle. So yeah, I’m kind of a big deal.
The really strange part is that I have had a ton of stuff lately that I could write about, starting with the fact that the 2014 season has officially started for me with my first tournament in Shanghai. It was definitely not ideal to start the year with a 17th, but I feel like I am playing better than I was last year, and am optimistic that I will be able to have a much more successful season. (Both in results and enjoying myself) China was terrible again, but only being there for one week instead of two made a world of difference. I didn’t lose nearly as much weight as I did last year, and only had three Chinese people spit on the ground while walking next to me this trip. (A personal low, Xie Xie China) As much as I rip on China, I have to give credit where credit is due…the waiters and waitresses in that country put American servers to shame. They would literally run to take your order or deliver your food, and would not accept a tip. Meanwhile, I have to send out a “search and rescue” party for my waiter if ask for hot sauce at a local IHOP.
For now, I will just make sure to post links on my Facebook and Twitter accounts any time I do update this blog so that you don’t have to check back if nothing new is up. And if you are missing my rambling and want some more Avatar in your life, (which you do) check out my posts on www.avp.com on Tuesdays. I have about nine more days out here in California before I head to Florida to start getting ready for the first AVP tournament of the year in St. Pete. (Can’t wait to start playing with that Wilson again)
Oh, and I saw the Goodyear Blimp land. Seriously, this isn’t a joke or a set-up; I think it is kinda awesome that I got to see that. The Goodyear Blimp is parked (is it called “parking” when it’s a blimp?) off of the 405 freeway when it is not in use, and I was stuck in traffic one day when it came in and landed. The entire time it was descending, I was in my car screaming, “Oh, the humanity!” to myself.
Hey Gang, wanted to drop you guys a quick line before I head over to the far east for the FIVB Shanghai Grand Slam. I know I haven’t updated this site in a while, and that is probably because I am doing a weekly segment called “Tuesdays with Avatar” for www.avp.com. Which means that Avatar is just too big and too important to waste his time updating this blog for you peasants. (If you use a nickname, is it considered talking in the fourth person?) Anyway, there has actually been some fun new things that happened in the past couple weeks, so enjoy.
-Nick and I spent a week training in Club Med in Florida. Brooke works as the volleyball director for the resort, so Nick got to spend some extra time with his family while I got to spend some extra time at an all-you-can-eat daily buffet. The facility is phenomenal, with a couple of great sand volleyball courts and a pretty nice workout room. (Complete with an actual lifting platform) I wanted to send out a big “Thank You” to the crew of guys (and girl; Brooke ran a few of our practices) that made sure we got some good work in while we were down there. And I also wanted to send out a big “F- You” to the sun in Florida, which made my skin feel like it was actually going to start boiling.
-I was really excited to run into the guy who is going to be providing Nick and I with competition gear this year. Here is a picture of me with him after he finished a vigorous spin-class.
I made sure to ask if I can get an XXL unitard in pink.
-Aside from the volleyball aspect, Club Med was really fun for all of the great activities they offered. I went out on paddleboards and sail boats and fishing trips and did the flying trapeze. The trapeze instructor told me that I should “join a circus”, which was weird because he told me that before I even took my turn on the trapeze. (I fully intended to post the video of me doing the trapeze, but I couldn’t get the file to play on my computer. No big loss, though. It was just a 7-foot guy swinging from a trapeze and then doing a back flip for a dismount. Nobody really wants to see that) I also got to save a kid’s life while sailing. Before you go throwing me a parade, let me explain that they have these little sailboats that you can learn to sail on but that tip over easily. So while I was out on the water, I noticed that one of the other sailboats was tipped over and rapidly drifting away from some kid in his life-jacket frantically trying to swim to it. Once I stopped laughing, (about 5 minutes) I pulled the kid onto my boat and got him into shore while the employees went to rescue the boat. There; now you can throw me that parade.
Another exciting development for me recently is that I am now “off the market” as a single guy. (A great sadness spread across the women of the world, as it seemed the world was a little less bright) I’m not going to put her name on here (I don’t want any of you female Avatarians to go all “Single White Female” on her) so all mentions to her will be under the pseudonym “Bambo”. (Combination of Bambi and Rambo, because she’s cute and kinda badass. And she periodically yells out, “NOTHING IS OVER! YOU JUST DON’T TURN IT OFF!”) Suffice to say, she is a ton of fun to hang out with, calls me an “asshat”, and doesn’t know or care about professional beach volleyball. Plus, I think we can all agree that the smartest thing to do before spending a summer with tall, athletic female volleyball players from all over the world is to commit yourself to a girl you will see maybe once a month. (Just kidding, Bambo. I miss you already)
I need to get packing. I leave for the miserable hellhol…er…exotic landscape that is China in about two hours. I will bring my laptop and try to post updates about how the U.S. crew is doing in Shanghai since I know China doesn’t allow Facebook. Any feedback from my loyal fans about my lack of posts on this website, my “Tuesdays with Avatar” segment, or how Bambo is out of my league are welcome, and hopefully I can write some good news about Nick and I making it through the qualifier soon.
Alright, fine…here’s the video of me on the trapeze.
Hey, Interwebs. I figured I should check in because I haven’t fed you anything new and hilarious in a while. But I will be honest, there just isn’t much new going on with me lately. This is that part of the year where there is literally no difference between my schedule last week and this week and next week. I practice in the same places on the same mornings against the same people, and then head to the same weight room to lift (hopefully not, but usually) the same weight. This might sound like a complaint, but it is the exact opposite. I am a creature of habit and love a good routine, so consistently spending my time on beautiful beaches trying to improve in volleyball is about as good as it gets for me. But, that kind of repetition just isn’t interesting to write about. (I know what you are thinking, “But Ryan, you can make anything interesting.” Which is true, but even a witty wordsmith like myself has limits) I will have months and months of traveling around the world and having adventures this summer, but for right now, the best I can do is talk about how I jumped a little higher than I previously could have and hung out with some Canadians. (I’m truly sorry. You know your blog has “Jumped the Shark” when you are headlining Canucks)
-We did testing the other day at ASC to see if all that weightlifting was paying off. (It was kind of a waste for me because I already had confirmation from all the ladies on Tinder that my time at the gym was “well worth it”) Still, I was excited to set a new personal best by touching 12 feet, 1.5 inches. If I could have gotten an extra half inch, I would have a three foot vertical. (With a full approach, of course. From a block jump, my vert is closer to 15-16 inches) It feels really rewarding when you can take a concrete measurement of improvement away from your workouts, as I feel like I have put a ton of effort into getting myself in good shape for this year. I’m also really excited for the FIVB to raise the net to 11 feet by 2015. (Tough break, Hobbits)
-The top Canadian men’s team of Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk (no, that’s not a joke. His name is really Chaim Schalk) spend most of the pre-season in Huntington Beach so that they can train against all of the good American teams that live in Southern California. Aside from being great volleyball players, (they took a 5th at World Championships last season) they are both good guys, so I will go hang out at their place every once in a while. During one of my visits, we played the board game Settlers of Catan and then they showed me this youtube video. (Lots of profanity in this video: you’ve been warned)
After I left, I drove a Harley off of Mount Rushmore just to try and get a little of my “American Badass” cred back.
-The AVP held it’s annual “Media Day”, where the players took all of the pictures and videos and interviews that CBS Sports will use during the broadcasting of the events next year. I had a better time doing it last year, as it seemed more open-ended and funny. Aside from having the hair and make-up girl cry when she found out she had to get me camera-ready, everything seemed very straightforward and conventional at this media day, so I am curious to see if it comes off as entertaining or boring when it airs. (Also, I’m interested to see if the interviews and pictures really matter much. When I watch volleyball, I just want to watch the games. I wonder if a more casual fan can be swayed by a good headshot or soundbite)
That’s it, a month of my life converted into three short paragraphs. (Only two of which were worth reading) I’m in the process of writing my first “Tuesdays with Avatar” entry for www.avp.com, and I think I should have it ready to go by next week. (Maybe I can make that a little more exciting than this tripe) Anyway, sorry to distract you, go back to your Buzzfeed quiz. (I got Daffy Duck in the “Which Looney Tunes Character are you?” quiz…which seems about right)
Can you believe all the crazy volleyball news that came out today? It blew my mind. Oh, you haven’t heard it all? Get a load of this…
-Misty May-Treanor is coming out of retirement to make a run at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The really weird part is that she’s going to bring Gabby Reece out of retirement to play with her.
-In an effort to streamline the learning process for the volleyball players he is trying to coach and help, Todd Rogers is going to be holding camps DURING his matches this year. He will be explaining and demonstrating how to sideout and play defense while he is siding out and playing defense in tournaments around the world.
-Nick Lucena and Brooke Niles realized how dangerous it is for two athletes of their caliber to combine their genes when their son Gunner took his first steps. Now, no one can actually catch the toddler and he has been on the loose for 3 days. This is the last video they have of him, right after they put his new red onesie on him…
(If anyone does happen to see Gunner, please contact his worried parents immediately)
-Summer Ross was tired of having her name cast her in the shadow of one of the best female beach volleyball players of our time. So she decided to legally change her last name. She is now officially Summer Kiraly.
-Casey Patterson shaved off his patented “Suavehawk” for a Paul Mitchell fundraiser. Ever since, he no longer talks trash on the court. Now, he just says nice and supportive things like, “Hey, good effort, guys.” and “Wow, you two are playing great!”
-The international team “The Hobbits” (Austria’s Xandi Huber and Robin Seidl) have decided to embark on a new challenge and will be playing competitive Futvolley this season.
-The AVP was so excited about the fan’s reaction to their announcement of Milwaukee as a 2014 tour stop that they have confirmed events in Fargo, North Dakota and Anchorage, Alaska during the 2015 season.
-And finally, I agreed to further my underwear modeling career by doing a risque calendar for charity. (Wearing Cupid wings and a bow and arrow for February, holding some well-placed sparklers for July, etc) All proceeds from the sale of “12 Months of Heat: Avatar’s Steamy Pin-Up Calendar” go directly to the good people at St. Mary’s House of the Blind. (Blind people were the only ones that thought me doing this project was a good idea)
Nothing used to make me happier than Opening Day. To me, it ranked right up there with Christmas, Fourth of July, and Groundhog Day. (Groundhog Day is my birthday, which is why I’m pissed it’s not considered a national holiday. Thanks for nothing, Obama) Admittedly, I have gotten pretty far away from baseball since I retired. I very rarely watch our national pasttime nowadays, as it just doesn’t feel like baseball is a part of my life anymore. But I still enjoy taking trips down memory lane, and thinking about listening to “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the first game of a new season, and a whole new summer of competition and opportunity was at my feet.
As I spent a beautiful, sunny SoCal Sunday scrolling through Facebook, (don’t judge me) I noticed that I have very distinct circles of friends on there. All of the people that I knew from my baseball-playing days were posting about the start of a new season, while all of the people I have met as a beach volleyball player were writing nothing because they were all outside playing volleyball. It made me wonder how exactly someone would go about explaining beach volleyball players to baseball fans, or vice versa. Even if I haven’t played in a while, I still feel like I have enough insight into both games to be able to bridge the gap for a fan of the diamond to start following the other “boys of summer”.
In this post, I’m going to explain who different pro volleyball players are through a baseball player alter ego. I did this already in a previous post, where I compared Jake Gibb to Derek Jeter. (I don’t have to put a link to that post, do I? I’m assuming you all have read this blog in it’s entirety and have it memorized. You haven’t? Well, looks like you have some homework to do tonight. http://ryan-doherty.com/october-1st/) This obviously won’t be an exact science, so there may be some comparisons that my colleagues find insulting. (At least I hope so, it wouldn’t be any fun if none of them got insulted) And before we start, I’m not going to be listing any of the ladies on tour in this post. Aside from it sounding patronizing, I just couldn’t think of any baseball player doppelgangers for Emily Day or Christal Engle. (Maybe Kerri Walsh as Jennie Finch? Tall, blonde, ridiculously good, husbands are athletes too…Yeah, nothing funny there. I’m sticking with the guys)
For all of my old baseball buddies that want to start following beach volleyball and it’s players, think of it like this…
Karch Kiraly is Babe Ruth.
The G.O.A.T. and the Bambino.
Both Karchy and “The Babe” are icons in their sports, considered by many to be the best of all time. But what really makes this comparison work is the legend that goes with each of these guys. Anyone you talk to will have an unbelievable story about how these guys did something so amazing that it has to be true. “Babe Ruth hit a baseball 600 feet, and once he hit a pop fly so high he rounded the bases before it landed.” “Karch Kiraly won a tournament in NJ with a dislocated right elbow. He just set his partner on two and shot the ball the whole time.” (I have heard both of these stories by people who believed they were 100% true)
Todd Rogers is Cal Ripken, Jr.
How cool is this collage? Only took me two hours to figure out how to make these in Paint.
Not about flash, not trying to get on highlight reels or land big endorsements or anything like that. What these guys wanted was to win games, period. And they were both good enough to be at the top of their sport, day in and day out, for 20 years.
Sean Rosenthal is Mickey Mantle.
Sweet hair, Rosie.
These are the guys that were born to play in their respective sports. Each of these two are thought of as the “naturals”, guys that could do it all, that have every tool in the game. Both were scary-good at a really young age, both switch-hitters, and both known for doing things that normal human beings couldn’t do. (Mick supposedly hit a home run with one hand and could run a 3.7 down to first base, while Rosie…
Also, neither of these guys were afraid to have a post-game cocktail or two.
Ryan Doherty is Randy Johnson. (You’re damn right I’m putting myself in here and giving myself one of the most flattering comparisions. I’m writing this post, did you think my alter ego would be someone who wasn’t awesome?)
Couple handsome devils, right here.
Both are tall, have unattractive facial hair, and took an extreme talent at two aspect of their respective games (Randy had a ridiculous fastball and an unhittable slider, while I have “being taller than everyone” and “expert partner selection”) to reach the top tier of their sports. (Randy Johnson was my idol growing up, and I actually had the chance to meet him when we were both in the Diamondback organization. There was even a professional photographer that took a photo of he and I…that I lost. How do you meet your hero, get him to autograph a professional photo of the two of you, and then lose the stupid picture? God I suck)
Ty Tramblie is Dustin Pedroia.
Geez, clean it up, guys.
The classic “Little guy that is going to show the world” story, these two are the guys who are undersized and use that chip on their shoulder to work as hard as anyone at getting really good at all the little things that can turn a game in your favor. Plus, they are both really hairy and always seem to be dirty.
Tri Bourne is Yasiel Puig.
Two newcomers from exotic lands (Hawaii and Cuba, respectively) and even stranger first names that got everyone’s attention with how well they were playing right out of the gate. Their play in their rookie seasons was one of the main reason for their team’s success, and fans are really excited to see what is in store for their second year. (Their opponents…not as excited)
And just like that, all you baseball fanatics now have the chance to come out to the beach during your favorite team’s next road trip and you will feel right at home. Just don’t call our referees “umpires” and leave the Cracker Jacks at the ballpark. (Sticky, candy-coated popcorn and sand aren’t a good combination)
Oh, and I’ve decided that I am going to write for the AVP website. I think interviewing some of the other players on tour could be fun, and there is very little pressure to come up with anything good based on the current content on www.avp.com. (ZING!) So if there is a certain team you would really like to hear more about, keep it to yourself because I’m only going to interview the teams that I like.
As a professional beach volleyball player, you really look forward to the day that the tour schedule comes out. You get all excited about the great places you are going to get to play and start getting a picture of what your season is going to look like. So since the AVP put out there official schedule today…
AVP 2014 Schedule
…I figured I would take some time to talk about what my year has in store.
-First off, I had no idea how busy my summer would be until I actually went and wrote it all down in my 2014 Schedule section. (Do any of you guys actually click on those other tabs? I haven’t updated the Gallery one in months) In consecutive weeks, I am going to be playing in Moscow, Berlin, Stavanger, (which is in Kenya, I believe) Milwaukee, Gstaaaaaaaad, The Hague, Long Beach, Klagenfurt, (southern Australia) Salt Lake City, Manhattan Beach, Stare Jablonki, (Iceland) Cincinnati, and Atlantic City. (Welcome to the Premier 1K status on United Airlines, Ryan. We look forward to you being an insufferable tool that calls all non-status flyers “peasants” from now on) The most time we will have off between consecutive tournaments is 5 days, with the least amount of time between them being two days. (I don’t have to travel too far in those two days, though. Just from Wisconsin to Gstaad, Switzerland. But I’ve heard that Milwaukee is called the “Gstaad of the Midwest”, so at least I won’t have any kind of culture shock between the two tourneys) The more I look at where I am going to be playing, the more excited I get. There are so many fun and exotic places I will be traveling to this year that it is a little overwhelming. (I mean, Salt Lake City, St. Petersburg, AND Cincinnati in the same summer?!? Talk about broadening your horizons) There may be a Mexico and a Brazil trip added to this schedule, but I’m not positive if those are going to happen.
-I also love Schedule Day because this is the day when everyone in the volleyball world gets to complain that their favorite stop wasn’t put on the schedule this year. (Or celebrate because it was) For the international schedule, I can’t wait to play in the Stavanger and Klagenfurt tournaments. (But I am really going to miss Rome and it’s food) Every player I have talked to says that the Klagenfurt event is an experience that rivals any other volleyball tournament in the world. And if you win in Stavanger, you get a sword.
I’ll be on the podium screaming “I HAVE THE POWER!”
As for the domestic events, Milwaukee is the only new tour stop. I got the chance to play there in 2012 for a Jose Cuervo Shootout event and really enjoyed it, and it seemed like Bradford Beach had some pretty passionate volleyball fans. So I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be a great addition to the roster. Of course, I can’t wait to hear all the people bagging on the AVP for not bringing an event to a city closer to them. I’m guessing the most complaints will come about a lack of another California event, (either Hermosa Beach or Santa Barbara) Chicago, and maybe Austin, Texas. I don’t really know what goes in to selecting a city for a tour stop, so I can’t speak too knowledgeably on why the AVP decided to have tournaments in some places rather than others. But my hunch is that they are trying to branch out from just being a California tour, the beaches in Chicago are too expensive to run a tournament there, and Texas is 400 degrees in the summer.
Looks like this year is going to be jam-packed with volleyball and adventure for me this year, so I better cram all of my “do nothing” in now. I’m going to spend the rest of the night eating Panda Express and watching old episodes of Parks and Recreation before falling asleep. (I want to be Ron Swanson)
P.S. – P.S. is derived from the latin term post scriptum, meaning “written after”.
P.P.S – I have been asked to write stuff by a few different people, and I would love to get some feedback from all of my readers (all three of you) about what you think I should do. I can write for the AVP website, doing interviews with teams in my authentic “not going to take anything seriously” style. Or I can write for DIG Magazine, doing their 10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW section. Or I can write for the World Series of Beach Volleyball, doing free-form poetry about hope and trust. (They actually haven’t told me what they want me to write about yet) The monetary compensation is comparable between all three because it is pretty much nothing. So let me know if you would really love for me to write for any of these groups. (Or if you think I should just keep doing my own thing here on the greatest blog ever blogged. Fight the power)
I had LASIK corrective surgery done yesterday at NVISION Laser Eye Center in Newport Beach and figured I would share my experience with the volleyball world. It is pretty amazing to be a guy that couldn’t read the E on an eye chart without my contacts to waking up with 20/20 vision. But this will be more entertaining as isolated bullet-points rather than a chronological story, so here we go…
-Deciding to undergo LASIK was a similar shopping experience to buying a car. As you are doing your free consultation, everyone there can’t stop telling you how great and safe it is. Then, as soon as you officially pay with your credit card, they mention how they aren’t liable if they blind you or if you need to get your eyes removed. (True story) It’s kinda like when they have the upbeat sales guy talk to you about the car and then the old cantankerous person explain how much you need a warranty.
-Even after arguing, negotiating, and flat-out begging, the people at NVISION still wouldn’t give me Bradley Cooper’s eyes.
I’m sorry, ladies. I tried to make the world a little more dreamy for you
-I was much more relaxed than I rightfully should have been before having someone open up my eyeballs with a laser. I was happily watching IMAX Deep Sea and eating a bag of complimentary chocolate chip cookies in the waiting area before they did the procedure. (Side note: The T.V. that they were showing the movie on was old and had weird color lines running through it. How funny would have been if they put that screen in the room where patients go after their operation, just to freak everybody out? “Ummm, Doctor…I think we have a problem. All the turtles have a red line going through them.”)
-My surgeon, Dr. Tooma, was a really nice guy. We were able to talk through the majority of the procedure, with him asking all about being a pro volleyball player and the world tour. (But when I tried to get a discount from the sales lady as a potential 2016 Olympian, she couldn’t have cared less) The most interesting parts for me was when he had to use little metal tools to lift the newly-lasered flap from my eye and the sticker/tape things they used to keep your eyelids open. Plus, I got a kick out of how many times he said, “That’s it, you’re doing great.” (How exactly could I have done poorly? Stand up mid-operation and say, “I’m gonna go grab a sandwich from across the street. Any of you guys want anything?”)
-Afterwards, they tell you to try and keep your eyes closed as much as possible for the rest of the day, which made my ride home with the baller Summer Ross tons more fun. Summer was cool enough to give me a lift home since we are neighbors for the summer, and you couldn’t pick a better driver to be in the passenger seat of a car with your eyes closed. “Should I have gone that way? Nah, I’m sure this will work.” (Feels car do a U-turn) “Ohhhh, there must have been different exits for going North or South. Anyway, how are your eyes? Are you going to be able to pass nails now?” After our third unscheduled detour, I promised to lend Summer Boss my old Garmin until she gets one of her own. (Which was probably her plan all along, that clever minx)
-The doctor and nurses all told me that I should try to sleep as much as possible the day of my surgery, and they even gave me some Xanax to help me rest. 16 hours later, I finally woke up and rejoined the land of the living. I’m not usually a guy that is big on drugs or medication, but I was amazed at what this psychoactive drug did for me. It helped me more in bed than any other pill I have ever taken that wasn’t blue. (HIYO!)
-The post-operation requirements are hilariously cautious. I totally understand having to take medicated eye drops for two weeks after your surgery, even if one of the drops tastes awful. (No lie, you put a drop in your eye and within a minute you have a terrible taste in your mouth. It made me not even want to eat the other eye drops. Okay, I still ate the other eye drops) But No rubbing your eyes for 3 months and Take lubricating eye drops every two hours for 6 months are some adorably optimistic rules that I have no intention of following, much like Eat 6-11 servings of vegetables a day or Yield for pedestrians.
-I will be honest, I sometimes wonder to myself why I haven’t landed a great girlfriend yet. But after having this surgery and getting a glimpse at what I actually look like, I’m wondering how I’ve had so many beautiful girlfriends in the past. Hopefully vision-correction surgery stays prohibitively expensive for women or my dating prospects are going to be struggling. However, I’m pretty confident the line “Now I can finally see how good-looking you are” is going to help me out. (Tried it out twice so far, on the receptionist at my optometrist’s office and Donald Sun. Both times it was well-received)
So there it is, my miraculous story of having laser beams permanently correct my vision. (Say that last sentence again to yourself out loud, it will simultaneously make you marvel at the possibilities inherent in being human and feel depressed at how you can’t do anything cool with lasers) I’m excited to try out my new vision on the volleyball court, and I’m stoked that we get to play against Ze Germans tomorrow. I’m sure if I ask nicely, they will try to avoid hitting me in the face.
Today, I went to a free consultation to see if I am a good candidate for getting LASIK corrective eye surgery. I’m not sure if I mentioned this on the blog before, but I’m practically blind. I’m literally the guy who takes out his contacts and then can’t see the eye-test chart, let alone read any of the letters on it. And what a surprise, it turns out I would be an ideal candidate for getting the procedure done. (As if a place dedicated to doing laser eye surgery was going to say, “Nah, stick with contacts. And keep your thousands of dollars, we don’t want it.”) Once they showed me a quick video of what the operation looks like…
…I couldn’t wait to schedule my appointment. (The previous clip is from Dead Space 2, a video game that is for Mature Audiences only, parental discretion should have been advised before watching the preceding video) Hopefully, I will have 20/20 vision by the end of March. (Because everybody sees a little blurry on the most holy of all Irish holidays, St. Patrick’s Day)
During my consultation, they asked me a ton of questions regarding my health, vision, and lifestyle. I noticed that there was a slight change in tone as soon as I mentioned I was a professional athlete. It wasn’t that anyone treated me better or worse, (it’s not like the doctors looked down at me or the nurses looked up to me. Well, technically, the nurses all did look up to me because they were each about 5’1, but you get what I am saying) it was just that me being an “athlete” put me in a preconceived category with certain attributes and characteristics. Which got me thinking, how different is their perception of “athlete” from mine? How much does an outsider know about the life of an athlete? Or how little?
So I figured I would do what I do best and enlighten the interwebs. (You’re welcome) I’m going to write about what I think of when I think of an “athlete”. This is not necessarily a professional athlete, or a beach volleyball player, or a male or female. This is only what I think are some of the realities and fantasies of an athlete’s life. And again, this is only my individual take or opinion on this subject, so it is 100% right and beyond question or debate.
-Athletes ain’t dumb: (I’m sorry, that’s a typo. It’s supposed to say, “Athletes ain not dumb”) This isn’t to say that all athletes are smart. (I spent too much time in bullpens trying to stick bubbles of chewing gum on my teammates’ hats to make that argument) But I feel like there exists a stereotype that an athlete uses their body because they don’t know how to use their mind, which couldn’t be further from the truth. A skill or passion for a sport doesn’t really correlate to IQ, so just knowing that someone plays a sport doesn’t tell you much about their intellect. (Unless that sport is Mixed Martial Arts, because all of those guys are…brilliant and smart and please don’t hurt me) In beach volleyball alone, we have Lauren Fendrick, (lawyer) Braidy Halverson, (science teacher), and every Swiss player on the FIVB tour. (They all speak at least 7 languages, including Klingon and Elvish) Besides, I will spend this summer traveling the world getting paid to play beach volleyball. It seems like the dumb one is whoever is paying me.
-Athletes do not feel physically great all the time: I can see how people could look at the physique of their favorite athlete and assume that they must feel wonderful all the time. I mean, they are obviously strong and healthy and must have tons of energy, right? Wrong. Your average athlete crawls out of bed in the morning feeling like they got hit by a truck the night before. Training for a sport means putting as much stress on your body as it can handle, and then taking that stress off right before you need to compete. So that basketball player with the ripped arms? He struggles to lift those arms to wash his hair most nights. Or that soccer player with the great legs? She walks around with them feeling like Jell-o most of the time. In the past two months of roughly 10 workouts a week, (morning practice followed by afternoon lifting four days a week, with a regeneration workout on Wednesday and a sprint workout on Saturday) I can honestly say that I have felt good (strong, quick, agile) about five times. The rest of the time, we do whatever we can to get through them. Case in point: I have seen Nick Lucena EAT a half of a scoopful of NO Xplode during a workout. (Not mix with water and drink, but eat. Put the scoop in his mouth, swallowed, then washed it down with some water and went back to doing squats)
-Most athletes could care less about what a fan thinks of them: (I really hope that I can articulate this well, because that first sentence is obviously playing with fire and I don’t want this to be offensive) I’m not trying to say that athletes don’t care about fans. We like fans, we love to think that what we do matters to people or inspires people or whatever positive someone would like to take away from us playing the sport we love. It is just that an athlete is literally trying to become an expert at something. (You are trying to master your sport, be as good as you can possibly be at it) That kind of dedication gives you a deep, intrinsic reward that is going to outweigh any kind of kudos (or ridicule) fans can offer. When I picture myself winning a big tournament, I don’t hear screaming crowds or think about getting congratulated afterward, I just think about how good it would feel scoring that last point. Imagine if I was having a conversation with a rocket scientist; he would probably love to hear that I think what he does is incredible and made me want to learn more about his field. But beyond that, it probably doesn’t matter much to him what I say or think…he’s busy trying to put a man on the sun. http://waterfordwhispersnews.com/2014/01/21/north-korea-lands-first-ever-man-on-the-sun-confirms-central-news-agency/ (Only took him 4 hours)
-A “jock” is very different than an “athlete”: When I think of a “jock”, I think of a person who loves sports. (As Ray Finkle’s mom would say, “What a sports nut, huh?”) When I think of an athlete, I think of a person who loves playing sports. (Did you pick up the subtle difference between the two? You did? Well, look at you) I love playing beach volleyball, loved playing baseball, and really enjoy playing most other sports. But I never watch Sportscenter, could care less who is going to make the NBA Playoffs, and couldn’t name all the teams in the NFL if you paid me. An athlete CAN be a jock, but it isn’t a requirement. And for some of us athletes, if you start talking about your favorite hockey team, the only thing we are going to be able to add to the conversation was that Bart used Gordie Howe’s picture when filling out a fake dating profile to entice his teach, Mrs. Krabappel. (The Simpsons were “catfishing” before it was cool)
-Athletes are not overconfident or arrogant: To be a successful athlete, you need to have confidence in your ability to perform when your time is called. But that confidence shouldn’t be construed as arrogance. Most athletes that I know are very good at realizing their strengths and their weaknesses, both on the playing field and off. The stereotypical “Larger than life, can-do-no-wrong athlete” is pretty off-base, as athletes tend to be some of the most humble and unassuming people in the rest of their lives. I am well aware of how inartistic I am. Or how bad I am at fixing or building anything. Or how much I struggle talking to wome…you know what, you get the idea. My point is, you won’t find an athlete that is constantly yelling and screaming about how great he is. (Editor’s note: Casey Patterson is the exception to this rule - http://instagram.com/caseypatt)
Maybe you will think a little differently about an athlete you know now that you have read this. Or maybe you are just happy that I was able to get a classic Simpsons reference into this post. (Woodrow: “Truly, yours is a butt that won’t quit”, hahaha) Either way, I’m glad I could help while having a little fun writing. I have to get ready for tomorrow, which means putting a heating pad on my back followed by some foam rolling followed by icing down my knee. (Real advice for my fellow athletes; never buy actual ice bags. Just buy a bag of those frozen edamame beans. It’s much cheaper, you can use it over and over again, and when the bag eventually rips, you get a nice little snack out of it)
People walk up to me all the time and say, “Wow Ryan, you look phenomenal. You must work out all the time.” To which I answer, “You’re right. I do look phenomenal and work out all the time. Great observation by you.” But there is more to my astonishing physique than simply resistance training and Na’vi genetics. Nutrition plays a huge part in my ability to brag about being a paid underwear model.
How many times am I going to post this? As many as I can…
And it is surprisingly hard to know what you are supposed to eat, because we, as a society, have gotten much more complicated about what we ingest and what we don’t. (I like the old-school days of “Eat food; don’t eat things that aren’t food”) But since I have access to a world-class Sport Dietitian, I figure I owe it to all of you to make up a bunch of stuff that would make my Sport Dietitian pretend she’s never heard of me.
In all honesty, I’m writing this post because I just signed a deal with ProYo Frozen Yogurt for me to endorse their products, which is why there is a cool little link on the side of my blog now that brings you to their website. (Only took me 2 hours to figure out how to do that. Thank God for them internets) I wouldn’t vouch for a product that I didn’t think was any good, (especially for the amount of money ProYo is paying me) so trust me when I tell you that this stuff is awesome. It’s got a high-quality, whey protein isolate as well as Probiotics and is Gluten…zzzzzzz. Sorry, I dozed off their talking about the healthy parts of food. Feel free to check out their laundry list of health benefits on your own time, the only thing that I care about is that I get to eat delicious Blueberry Pomegranate frozen yogurt every day as part of my “recovery”.
Anyway, here is Avatar’s Guide to Sports Nutrition:
-Most of us grew up in the era of the “Food Pyramid”, which is a guideline that places food we should eat large quantities of (fruits, vegetables, grains) as the base of the pyramid and foods we should consume infrequently (Laffy Taffy, malt liquor) as the tip of the pyramid. Most contemporary research has found the pyramid to be a poor model for eating choices, and scientists are now recommending the “Food Octagon”. Basically, you put all the foods you are thinking about eating in an imaginary cage fight in your mind and only eat the winner. (Bacon is like Anderson Silva in his prime… unstoppable)
-In a highly physical environment like a gym or my bedroom, (HIYO!) there are going to be a lot of people taking supplements to try and boost their performance. (HIYO! Wait, no…that’s actually kinda embarrassing. Forget you read that part) Athletes put all sorts of weird powders and concoctions in those little shaker bottles with the metal ball inside as a way to properly fuel their bodies. The thing is…supplements suck. They taste awful. But if you bring a 2 liter of Wild Cherry Pepsi into your local 24 Hour Fitness, some people might assume that you don’t quite know what you are doing. What you need to do is put something that LOOKS like a supplement in your workout bottle, but in reality it is something delicioius. For example, if you don’t want to drink the chalky and clumpy chocolate protein shakes, just use chocolate milk. (If someone looks really close, they will be able to tell that the texture isn’t the same, so just make sure to constantly shake your bottle whenever anyone is nearby) For a NO Xplode substitution, pink lemonade is a great swap that will look virtually identical. The only way people will be able to tell you aren’t really drinking Xplode is that you won’t be acting like Dewey Cow on PCP.
The hardest one to fake is going to be those nanogreens, which sucks because nanogreens might be the grossest supplement on Earth. Unfortunately, the people that take these supplements are also the most judgmental people on Earth. And they run 5 K’s on the weekend and drive hybrid cars because they just couldn’t sit by and watch the destruction of our planet without “being a part of the solution instead of part of the problem”. (Even though China puts out more greenhouse gas emissions in a minute than your eco-friendly vehicle ever will save. Tough break, hippies) Anyway, through much trial and error, I have found that mixing 2 parts raspberry iced tea with 1 part Hi-C Ecto Cooler will give you something that looks strikingly similar to those weird, green healthy drinks. It’s kinda like an Arnold Palmer, if Arnold Palmer was a 12-year old boy with diabetes in his future.
-There is also a moral element to nutrition, as there are those who don’t feel that it is ethical to eat animals. Personally, I don’t think it is right to eat an animal’s food supply, so I do whatever I can to avoid eating vegetables or plants. I mean, I already ate a cow, pig, and chicken for lunch, it would be adding insult to injury if I washed it down with a shot of wheatgrass juice.
-It is important to remember the underlying components of your food. If you were to just have chocolate (derived from the cocoa bean) and wine (made from fermented grapes) for dinner, that’s pretty much the same as having a salad.
-Why don’t you help yourself to a delicious ProYo Frozen Yogurt? The “Anytime Frozen Treat” would sure taste great after a hot workout on the beach, and can be found at many convenient locations near you. (How was that for my first plug? Too subtle?)
-Regardless of whether it is healthy or not, your life will be better if you occasionally enjoy a brownie. If you can’t eat brownies, have a bowl of ice cream. If you can’t eat brownies or ice cream, help yourself to a cookie every now and then. If you can’t eat brownies or ice cream or cookies, than you were obviously Hitler in a previous life and you are now paying for your past sins. (Reincarnation is a bitch, Adolf)
I hope you all were able to enjoy learning about sports nutrition as much as I was to write nonsense about sports nutrition. If you found anything factually inaccurate in this article or disagreed with any of the claims that I made, feel free to eat me. (Had to get “eat me” somewhere into this post about food) And thanks again to ProYo for letting me be a brand ambassador for them, a decision I am sure they are already regretting.
Today, the FIVB announced that they are going to be trying out a new rule on the world tour this season. They have decided that the block will not count as one of a team’s three touches, making soft blocks similar to those in the indoor game. And, for the some of the younger U21 and U23 tournaments, they will allow beach players to pass the serve with open hands. Right now, I’m kinda indifferent to the blocking rule, as it seems like an arbitrary rule change to try and make beach volleyball more like indoor volleyball. (Knee pads are now part of the required uniform for beach volleyball teams) Plus, I’m glad that when a hitter crushes a ball off my face, I now don’t have to worry about actually swinging at my partner’s set. I do, however, REALLY hope that they don’t institute open-hand passing. Even though it would be in my best interest, (as a guy that struggles with passing float serves) it just turns into a sloppier game when you can run up to the ten foot line and pop everything up with your fingers.
I am composing an e-mail to the FIVB reminding them that beach volleyball and indoor volleyball are, in fact, different sports and don’t have to have identical rules. (Having 6 people on a side vs. having 2 people on a side kinda changes the dynamic of the game) And, I can’t imagine any other sport just radically changing rules (like being allowed to touch the net or how many times you can contact the ball) every year “for the fans”. (Okay, this year in basketball, you only have to dribble if your really want and dunks will be worth 2.5 points. Fans will love that!) But, since this is the way the winds of our beloved sport are blowing, let no one say that Avatar does not also blow. (Anyone who tells me the origins of that line instantly becomes my friend)
Here is my list of possible rule changes that could improve beach volleyball:
-Kicking the ball over the net for a kill should count as three points. With rally scoring, it is really tough to make a comeback if you are down three or four points late in the game. But it will keep everyone on the edge of their seats at the 19-16 switch if they know that they are one bicycle-kick spike away from a tie ballgame. (I’ll be honest: I just want an excuse to try and bicycle-kick a volleyball over the net)
-Removing an article of clothing should be like a mulligan, meaning everyone replays the previous point. They always try to market beach volleyball on it’s sex appeal, why not just go all the way? I could just picture the commentators now, “WOW! Big serve down the middle for an ace, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The score is now 20-19 and…wait a minute. I think…YES! The bikini top is coming off, which brings our score back to 19-19. The crowd is on their feet, except for a few gentlemen who remain seated with their legs awkwardly crossed.”
-There should be a third player that stays on the team bench until he/she is tagged in. Let’s use a little of that showmanship they have in the WWF to help get the crowd involved. Side note: I’m not calling it the WWE. I don’t care if pandas copyrighted the name “World Wildlife Federation”, there is only one WWF. (If you smell what the Avatar is cooking) Imagine the tension as a blocker tries to crawl over to the sidelines to tag in an extra defender while the other team is about to attack the ball. And don’t even get me started on ladder matches…
-Make the net randomly change height throughout the match. Having the net fluctuate between 7 feet and 9 feet at completely arbitrary times could revolutionize the game. (And also quiet all of the annoying 5’6″, 60-year old volleyball “purists” who hate short-court because they were never high enough to actually spike a volleyball) Serving would be like playing the windmill hole on the miniature golf course, and shoot sets could become the most fun thing to watch ever. (Or just a clusterf#ck. Either way)
-Each team gets one Roman Candle per match to use whenever they want. Have fun focusing on your set now…
I think we can all agree volleyball needs more pyrotechnics.
I’m excited to see what other rule changes people are proposing, I have no doubt our sport will be reduced to driving monster trucks while eating as many hot dogs as you can by 2016. (Did I say “reduced”? Because I meant to say, “elevated”) For now, I have to get to sleep so I can be at practice bright and early tomorrow to work on free kicks. (You never know…)