Chris “Geeter” McGee isn’t technically involved in the sport of beach volleyball anymore. He’s passed on his metaphorical emceeing torch to Mark Schuermann. But he’s still a South Bay guy, still plays in all the four-man tournaments, still watches the livestream and keeps up with the sport he’s still fully, unquestionably enamored with.
So when there was a NORCECA qualifier this past spring, after the Los Angeles Lakers, for whom he does a variety of media work, were knocked out of the playoff hunt, Geeter went to check it out, see the play and some of the players he still has relationships with.
At the Manhattan Pier that day was Billy Kolinske, whom Geeter kinda sorta knew in the way that those in beach volleyball kinda sorta know everyone, even if they haven’t officially met.
“He said ‘I watched in Chicago. You were a big part of why I wanted to play,’” Geeter recalled. “‘If I ever make a final, I need you to do an introduction.’”
The legend of the Geeter introduction lives on.
A bar in Louisville. Just a small, eight-team tournament. This is the first chapter of the genesis story of the indelible Geeter introduction.
“I was sucking beers down, raging,” Geeter said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “And they were like ‘Go down!’ So I go down. My whole thing was that I’d break dance but I went down, I was doing these intros, and I was just screaming in (Larry Witt’s) face. Screaming in his face. At a bar in Louisville. And then it was just ‘You’re doing that every time.’ ”
To say that he did that every time would be such an understatement it would be an insult to the wild and unprecedented creativity that Geeter brought to the sport of beach volleyball. Suck down beers and yell a few intros? Ha! That wouldn’t be it. No, sir.
Geeter ziplined into a Manhattan Beach Open final. Nevermind that he didn’t know how to do it, or what, exactly, he was doing, dammit he was going to zipline into a Manhattan Beach Open final!
With a van filming from the next lane over, he went 80 on a Harley down the highway and straight onto stadium court.
“I’ve never been on a Harley before, I’m losing my shit,” Geeter said. Driving that Harley was “a big lady,” he said. “A Harley lady. Well, she was a woman. She was on the Harley and she said ‘Hold onto these handle bars.’ That was part of the TV intro.”
One doesn’t write that script. They invent it as they go. Which is exactly what Geeter did in his iconic epoch with the AVP: He invented everything as he went. Given the keys to run the Dig Show, he put his wide spectrum of creative ideas to full use. Hiking in Hawai’i, barbeques, “doing all kinds of stuff,” Geeter said.
And it wasn’t just a gimmick. It was real entertainment with a splash of bona fide journalism, a combination that earned five local Emmy nominations.
“I’m oh-for-5,” Geeter said, laughing.
It is funny, though, what preceded all that charm and pizzazz and charisma and panache: pure, unadulterated panic. The first time he was given the microphone, in 1998 or 1999, to do an introduction, he handed it back. And then it got thrown right back at him. Whether he liked it or not, Geeter was doing introductions.
“I would just start talking, so my intros started to evolve, and then it became part of the show. I’m on the sand, I’m getting people going, and then I’m just learning, so I would just try to get you. How do I get you? How do I get you?” Geeter said. “And then the women said ‘You gotta give us that,’ so I had to get them going. I always wanted to make sure I gave everything I had.”
His genuinely close relationships with the players not only made it easier to do them as well as he did, but added a later of authenticity. He’d throw in inside jokes that only a few people in a crowd of thousands would understand, but that was part of the beauty of it all: The introductions weren’t for the fans; they were for the players. He’d make up random stats on Todd Rogers digs just to get a chuckle out of Phil Dalhausser. The fans wouldn’t know the difference, but a laugh from the Thin Beast is worth more than an uproar from a sold-out Sunday stadium anyway.
“I was a small part of it,” Geeter said. “I needed them. I helped facilitate everything, but it’s not like I was just running the show. The volleyball carried it. I just wanted to make it special. I wanted them to want to be there.”
That goal has been well accomplished. Players who never had the opportunity to hear a Geeter intro — like Kolinske — still nostalgically seek them out. Even those outside of the beach world do, to the point that he is not infrequently requested to do wedding introductions — and then officiate those same weddings. He’s now officiated 17 weddings.
His daughter sometimes asks him why he isn’t doing beach volleyball anymore. Like her dad, she’s a beach enthusiast, tuning into the Amazon livestream of all the AVPs, keeping up with the players. She doesn’t quite understand that “daddy’s with the Lakers,” Geeter said, laughing, and that working with the Lakers is quite a plush gig. But it’s a gig he fully admits he wouldn’t be as exceptional at had it not been for his fun-filled ride in beach volleyball.
“I had no schooling for that,” he said. “I just learned on the go. I bet on myself. I can talk to you, I can go off the cuff. I learned how to do that from the AVP.”