There were some touching moments at AVP Chicago surrounding the last match of Phil Dalhausser’s career. Well, almost last match.
There was the super-fun three-on-three short game before the match that involved Dalhausser, partner Nick Lucena, coach Jason Lochhead, his friend and long-time rival Jake Gibb, Gibb’s partner, Taylor Crabb, and their coach, Rich Lambourne.
Just imagine in any other sport the combatants warming up together and having so much fun before the loser — either Dalhausser or Gibb — would end their pro beach career.
When it was over, Gibb and Crabb won — Gibb’s career ended the next day — and Dalhausser was heckler free.
No, seriously. Dalhasser’s wife would heckle him when he messed up.
“And she’s loud,” Dalhausser said.
Jennifer Dalhausser laughed about it after the match.
“I am my husband’s biggest fan and I may be his biggest heckler,” she said unabashedly. “I like to keep him grounded.”
And while she was saying that, she was with her close friend, Jane Gibb, Jake’s wife. They watched the match together, cocktails in hand, enjoying a special day.
“I’m like seriously gonna cry. It’s been the most emotional weekend,” Jane Gibb said. “They have such a special relationship, the four of them, Phil and Nick and Jake and Taylor. They got each other through a very tough time. And everyone’s being very kind to Jake and talking about his career and what these last 20 years have meant.
“It’s just an emotional weekend more than anything.”
Ultimately, Gibb and Crabb won the elimination match 21-17, 21-19. The next day, Gibb and Crabb lost to eventual winners Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson.
What the two big men — the 45-year-old Gibb and 41-year-old Dalhausser — meant to American pro beach volleyball wasn’t lost on anyone, especially their wives.
Dalhausser will play four AVP events next year because of sponsorship deals.
“Similar to Jake, he’s ready. He’s ready to move on in life,” Jennifer said. “He’s been doing this for 18, 19 years. He’s grateful that it’s on his terms and his choice as opposed to being forced out.”
His heckler had a great idea.
“I would love for him to play one AVP with Jake where they split block,” Jennifer said. “Because I think Phil is a great defender and his IQ of the game is just really high and Jake is just the most underrated player in beach volleyball.”
Jane was all for it.
“Well, it’s hard when you go through the era of Phil Dalhausser,” Jane Gibb said. “You know what I mean? The best player of their generation. Yeah, he’s had a lot of seconds in his career.”
Both wives played some pro beach volleyball. Jennifer grew up in Thousand Oaks, California, where she went to high school with beach pro John Mayer.
Jennifer and Phil met in 2010. Lucena and his wife, Brooke Niles, the Florida State coach, introduced the Dalhaussers. Jane and Jake are both from Utah.
The Gibbs and Dalhaussers each have two kids.
Crosby Gibb is 10 and Cora is 6.
“We talk about it all the time. He feels really good about being done, I feel really good about him being done. It’s time. It’s time,” Jane Gibb said.
“I think there’s always going to be a little underlying sadness, because this has been our last 20 years, and it provides a lot of fun and travel and friends and the relationships that he’s built. There’s some sadness. But he’s ready and grateful for the last 20 years.”
Sebastian Dalhausser is 8 and Sophia is 7.
“He’s the best human I’ve ever met,” Jennifer said. “Don’t tell him I said that. But leaving the kids has taken a toll on him. And me, I should say. I’m happy he’s ready. I could keep watching him play. I want him home.”