Of all the indelible moments we’ve had on SANDCAST these past two years — and there have been countless many, with massive lifetime milestones from both Tri Bourne and myself — none stood out quite like the moments after our latest podcast, which was recorded on Monday and published today.
For the first year and a half, our typical post-show routine was almost college-ish: We’d barbeque, drink a few beers, watch some football, Netflix, YouTube, whatever. Sometimes Trevor Crabb would come over and hang. Gabby Bourne, Tri’s amazing wife and resident ‘Pod Mama.’ as we’ve affectionately dubbed her — she’s the one who built our studio, by the way — would invariably be present, joining the boys.
It’s not that those days are over, but things have certainly changed, in all the best ways possible. After we recorded the show on Monday, an exhausted Pod Mama walked upstairs, a crying newborn, Naia Zuri Bourne, in tow. She passed her off to Tri, and now instead of cradling a Kona or a small glass of red, he was cradling his infant. Listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Anything to put Naia to sleep.
Life comes at you fast.
“That evolution of where I was, and all of the things that have happened since then, it all started with the SANDCAST,” he says on the episode, and he does say this jokingly, because, obviously, there are a lot more important things that have been changing the direction of Bourne’s life. But the podcast, in its 110th episode, has been there to document it all.
It was there, on episode one, to document Bourne when he was deep in the throes of his now-famous autoimmune disease.
“The New Tri Bourne: Buddha Tri Bourne,” is what we dubbed that episode, which, in retrospect, is a funny name, because now that is such an old version of Tri Bourne it hardly seems to exist anymore. That Tri Bourne wasn’t allowed to sweat – “I wanted to sweat,” he said, “but I literally wasn’t allowed to.” He wasn’t allowed to jump, or to lift weights, or to play the sport that is his lifeblood and how he supports his growing family.
Now he’s ranked No. 1 in the Olympic race among American teams.
“Yeah,” he said, “that is crazy.”
The podcast was there to document the publication of my first non-fiction book, We Were Kings, just as it was there to document my first main draw, in Austin of 2018 with Raffe Paulis. It was there to document Bourne’s return to beach volleyball, in Manhattan Beach of 2018, which seemed to just be a one-off with his buddy Trevor Crabb, but then it became more. It became a partnership for the next event, in Chicago, where they finished fifth, and the next, in Hawai’i, where they beat Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and wound up taking third.
Now, should they continue to play well on the World Tour, they could be Olympians in Tokyo in eight months. With an extra fan, Naia Bourne, cheering him on from home. With a podcast to document the journey, as it has for the last two years.
“In this situation,” Bourne said of the year-and-a-half in which his autoimmune disease sidelined him, “I had to rethink it all. I was like ‘Alright, all I know is, I want to come out of this better than I was before.’ So I just planned it out. Assuming I was going to get better, I had to stay solid to that mindset: ‘Ok, I’m going to get better, I’m going to get back to where I was, what do I want to have gained from this?’”
He has gained more than he could have ever imagined. He’s switched partners, switched positions, switched roles in life from a newlywed to a dad of a baby girl. He’s written a forward for a book, come back from an autoimmune disease and, remarkably, recorded a career-high finish at the World Championships, claiming fourth with Crabb in Hamburg, Germany.
Meanwhile, when Tri and I launched the podcast, I didn’t own a passport. By the end of this year, I’ll have been to 10 countries.
Life takes you places. This sport takes you places.
And gosh is it fun to have a podcast to record every step of the ride.