Not Much Going On

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, 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)

April 1st, 2014

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)

Happy April 1st, everybody.

Baseball’s Opening Day

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. 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.

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.

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.

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?)

Ryan Doherty is Randy Johnson

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.

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.

These two are practically twins

Practically twins

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 (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.


Schedule Day

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

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!"

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 Was Blind But Now I See…

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 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’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.



Typical Athlete

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. (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 -

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)



Avatar’s Guide for Sports Nutrition

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.

You're welcome, ladies.

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.

New FIVB Rules

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 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…)

Advice For Great Partnerships

Now that I have crossed “skydiving” off of my adrenaline-junkie bucket list, (I still have “wrestle a bear” and “swim with a Great White Shark while holding a knife in my teeth”) I have decided to change it up and write about something new.  Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, where men and women around the world have to opportunity to show their love for one another with fancy dinners and heart-shaped chalk candies with poorly-spelled declarations of love. (I WUV U, but not enough to buy you candy that actually tastes good) Since I know that is the first place you all check for advice on how to live your lives, I wanted to write a post about relationship advice during this romantic time of year.  But seeing how my PlentyOfFish account currently claims that the ocean is empty, I realize that I am the last person who should be giving anyone relationship advice.  I don’t know anything about making a romantic partnership work, so I have decided to instead write about volleyball partnerships in a way that can also be considered dating advice..  My hope is that with some specific pronoun choices and vague assertions and descriptions, this post can be helpful to those looking to score on and off the court.

-You need to pick a partner that highlights your strengths and covers your weaknesses: Your first instinct when searching for that special someone is going to be to pick a person just like you.  And why not, you’re awesome.  But, and it pains me to be the one to have to tell you this, there are some things about you that may be considered “faults” or “weaknesses”. (For example, I’m too humble) So, instead of looking for a partner that is a mirror image of yourself, maybe look for someone who can compliment your strengths and help you overcome your short-comings.  The whole point of coming together as a pair is to make the total worth more than the sum of it’s parts, so be honest with yourself about areas where you don’t excel and look for a partner that can help you overcome those trouble spots.

-Communications between partners is key: There is no way your partnership will be successful without an open and honest dialogue between the two of you.  There are going to be certain responsibilities or adjustments that each of you are going to have to make if you want to survive and thrive as a duo, and the inability to express what you need from your each other is a recipe for disaster. (Nothing worse than those “hubby-wife” moments where the two of you don’t talk enough and you ruin your chance)

-Don’t get too physical too early in the partnership: It’s just human nature to get really excited when you find a partner you think is going to be perfect.  You are both going to want to get together and see what the two of you can do physically.  And as fun as that sounds, (and I’m sure it would feel great to get back at it after a long time away from the action) you want to set yourself up for success in the long-term, so it is better to slowly ease into the physical stuff at the beginning.  There will be plenty of opportunities throughout your time together to experiment with all sorts of crazy ideas, but if you try to jump right into the heavily physical stuff right away, someone is liable to get hurt.

-Only have one partner at a time: This should probably go without saying, but you can’t have more than one partner at once.  I mean, how would that even work?  Seems way too confusing and complex.  Besides, once you are known as a person who tries to make three-ways happen, no one else is going to want to deal with you. (That’s just not the way most people play the game)

-Having an outside perspective can be a huge help: Sometimes, when the two of you are in the middle of your partnership, it is difficult to really assess what is happening and different ways that you both can improve. (This leads to both of you becoming a little stagnant) It is not a bad idea to hire a professional to watch the two of you interact and maybe give a third-party’s perspective on ways that you can continue to develop.  I know it has been historically a little taboo to seek the help and guidance of one of these consultants, but they really can provide some valuable insight and should be considered as a viable option.

-If you feel you need to move on to a new partner, be respectful: Breaking up has to be one of the hardest things to do, and there really is no way to dissolve your pairing while ensuring that no one feels let-down or insulted.  The best thing you can do for you and for your partner is to just be upfront, honest, and respectful.  If they are not fulfilling your needs and you want to explore different opportunities, it is best to just come right out and say that.  While it may be difficult to hear, your ex will eventually come to respect you for being direct. (Because the last thing you want is to have awkward encounters over and over again with someone you used to be partners with)

I hope you were able to take some of these lessons and apply them to your own lives.  Remember, the whole reason behind looking for that perfect partner is to find someone to share your good times with, so have fun with it and don’t stress too much.  And make sure to value your other half, as nothing is worse for anyone in a young pairing than feeling unappreciated or taken for granted.  If all else fails, make sure you give it 100% so that you don’t look back with any regrets. (One thing you can always control is your own effort)

Happy Valentine’s Day and good luck this season.

My 30th Birthday

Today, I turned 30 years old.  It is crazy to me that I have been on the planet for over half my life by now. (Let’s be real here: you or I have never seen a 60-year-old that is 7 feet tall; longevity obviously isn’t our strong suit) There are so many things that I have to look forward to in this next decade of my life, like caring about tax liability and watching my hair migrate from the top of my head to my back and shoulders. (That has unfortunately already started. You’re welcome, ladies) But I figured that today was as good a day as any to scratch something off my bucket list.  So I decided to fulfill my lifelong dream of going skydiving.

I scheduled a tandem skydive for noon today at the Skydive Perris facility, about an hour and fifteen minutes drive from where I live.  I really wanted to jump solo, but in order to do that, you have to take lessons and go through an entire “Accelerated Free Fall” course. (Which seems counter-intuitive, trying to make skydiving super safe by teaching people how to do it properly.  If I wanted to be safe, I wouldn’t jump out of an airplane) Also, the Perris facility only had equipment that could support a solo diver if he or she was under 220 pounds.  I actually just skated in under the 240 pound maximum for the tandem jumps.  I weighed 238.3 by eating and drinking practically nothing last night and skipping breakfast this morning.  Once I weighed in, I ordered a sandwich to eat while I was filling out the thousands of legal waivers you need to sign. (They had a video where a lawyer explained that you couldn’t sue the facility if you slipped on a banana peel in the parking lot.  So as I left, I threw tons of banana peels out of my car windows, Mario Kart style. Good luck, everyone else)

All of the people at the facility were very nice and helpful. (One woman even gave me a cupcake for my birthday) The book I am currently reading, Above All Else, was written by Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, a world-champion skydiver who runs the Perris facility.  I probably should have started to read his book AFTER I had made my jump, since the first chapter is about him waking up from a 6-week coma with a broken neck and skull from a plane crash, but I digress.  I found out my instructor’s name would be John by overhearing an employee’s walkie-talkie. (“Yeah, there’s some 7 foot pro volleyball player here that is going to do a tandem.  John got stuck with him) “Dark Naked” was a cool guy, ex-military who had been doing tandem jumps for 10 years. (John’s nickname was “Dark Naked” because he always used to get drunk and take his clothes off, so he thought an appropriate personalized license plate would be DRK NKD.  You really need that “N” in there if you want that to work) He explained to me before we took off why it was phrased that he “got stuck with me”.  With my size, weight, and surface area, if I freaked out and started flailing my arms, it would be incredibly tough for him to keep us stable.  Also, on landing, his feet have to hit the ground first, so he had to trust me to raise my feet up pretty high or we were both going to be in for a tumble. (Shoutout to Tony at ASC for showing me all those hamstring stretches)

Here’s the video of my jump…(Disclaimer: this clip may be too intense for younger viewers.  Parental discretion is advised)

(Fine, you caught me.  That isn’t a video of my jump, that is a clip of Swoop in the 1994 Action-Thriller “Drop Zone”, starring Wesley Snipes. And yes, I watched that movie this morning before I went) I didn’t pay for the video of my jump because I honestly wanted to do this just for me, so that I could have the experience of flying. I didn’t do it so that I could show other people pictures or a movie of me doing it. (Feel free to point out the hypocrisy of me writing in a blog about how I did something for me and not to share it with others) There was no way a video was really going to capture how it felt to fall from that height, and I can’t picture it being too exciting for anyone else to watch an amateur on his first jump.  And while my experience was cool, it left a little something to be desired.  I tend to be a very solitary person who spends most of his time in his own head, so going through something like jumping out of a plane at 12,500 feet with some guy strapped to me was a little uncomfortable.  Plus, I wasn’t able to really glide or flip or fly however I wanted because it was John’s job to make sure I didn’t do those things.  I wasn’t even able to pull my own parachute or control how I landed, so it really felt like I was just along for the ride.  I think that a lot of the adrenaline rush comes from having to act in order to get the outcome you want. (Not dying) So since I never really had to do anything, I never got too pumped up. (I’ve seriously had bigger spikes in adrenaline before the first serve in a volleyball game than I did in free fall)

Some other notes about the whole ordeal:

-A bunch of people were having a cookout near the area that I was waiting in to be assigned my flight instructor.  When “Highway to the Danger Zone” came on their sound system, I have never laughed harder or wanted aviators more.

-Watching the guys that really knew what they were doing was incredible.  I watched one dude build a ton of speed by making a near-vertical descent on his approach, then pull up at the last second to do a 30-yard Power Slide across the grass landing area.  I might have gotten pregnant just from watching him.

-I may never have felt less like a man than I did when I had to sit on my instructors lap while in a plane filled with military men and legitimate skydiving teams.  The pity and disgust I saw in these other men’s eyes as I wore my bright pink altimeter and got safely strapped in to my guide like a big boy brought out my inner Mike Dexter. (“Shut up! I’ll kick every ass in this room!” is what I would have said if there was any chance I could have kicked anyone’s ass in that room.  Or plane)

-I probably should have thought about this when stuff like “12,500 feet” and “120 mph” came up, but my most vivid memory of the jump was how cold my face got and how hard it was to breathe.  I should have worn one of those badass Halo-style helmets that the real skydivers wore.

-Since I went by myself, I seriously debated just turning off my phone and not getting in touch with anyone for the rest of the day, just to scare the hell out of anyone who would worry about me.  But then I realized that the only person who would really worry would be my mom, and I’ve already put her through enough. (However, Nick Lucena doesn’t check social media, so if any of you want to get in touch with him and say something like, “Sorry to hear about Avatar’s skydiving trip.  Who do you think you are going to play with now?”, I’m all for it)

I am very happy that I finally jumped out of a plane, and now I know for certain that I have to do a solo jump before my time on this planet is up.  So if anyone knows a place that has chutes that can handle 240 pounds of gangliness, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at  The first 30 years of my life have been great, filled with excitement and twists and failure and laughs.  And I only hope that I can keep that streak going for the next year and beyond.