No matter the country or tournament or prize money on the line, it is never an especially difficult task to identify which is the room of Chad Beauchamp.
It’s the one overflowing with overgrown humans, with massagers, tables, tape, ice.
“Chad has a bed for the athletes, a table, his bed that we’re not supposed to use but most of us sit on it anyway,” Tri Bourne said, laughing on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “We get legitimately excited when we know Chad is traveling with us.”
Beauchamp is, among many roles, one of the physical therapists who travels for USA Beach Volleyball. It’s a position he stumbled into beginning in 2012 with a combination of a phenomenal education, innovative techniques, and, of course, a small dose of serendipity.
“I had been doing some U.S. Surfing stuff,” Beauchamp said. “At that time, I got asked to do a tournament with USA Beach Volleyball.”
They wanted to know if he could go to Germany in a month. He had no idea it was a $300,000 Grand Slam. That it was a critical tune-up for the London Olympics two weeks later.
“I was like, ‘All right,’ ” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “I just kind of got thrown in there.”
Now he’s going on seven years with USA Beach Volleyball and is also the trainer tabbed to work with Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, a pair of athletes with notoriously cranky shoulders.
“This year is going to be cool,” he said. “I plan on going to Moscow with USA Volleyball but this year, specifically, Brooke is coming off her last surgery, it’s been challenging for her the past couple of years, so I’m going to travel a little more specifically with her and Kerri.”
For the past several seasons, Beauchamp has been the man trusted with some of the most valuable shoulders in volleyball, from Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb in their leadup to the 2016 Olympics to Irene Pollock and now to Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who are making the push to Tokyo’s 2020 Games.
“I’ve always looked at rehab and recovery as the glue that holds it all together, all the training and all that kind of stuff,” Beauchamp said, which is why stretching is as important as lifting, massaging as critical as setting, breathing as vital as hitting. “It’s all connected, and sometimes people don’t know, either. You may not even know that if you get a little more range of motion in your t-spine or if you can open up your hips a little more you can jump higher or cock your arm back more and can give you more power. Those are the things we’re looking for. We’re trying to find all of those things.
“If you lack the range of motion in your hips, and you’re not getting the muscles firing in the right sequence, and if you’re not able to twist in your t-spine the right way or engage your core the right way, you’re losing power in your shoulder. And then what you try to do is you try to force it more and that’s when you start to tear your labrum and your rotator cuff and whatever else.”
A conversation with Beauchamp is almost like a lesson in Kinesiology 101 combined with Meditation 101 combined with Weight Training 101, and that’s sort of the point. A visit with Beauchamp won’t result in a simple diagnosis and recovery plan – no more “ice and rest” advice. It will be specific, catered to each individual, an all-encompassing calendar hitting every aspect, from the mental side of things to the strengthening to the recovery.
“Piecing all those components together,” he said, “is how we get the better performance.”
And how his hotel room is the one perpetually overcrowded.