I can see the play unfold as if it were yesterday: Tri Bourne jump-serving John Mayer down the line, Mayer passing, Ryan Doherty bump-setting it a tad outside, Bourne making him pay for it.
Bourne left just enough line available for Mayer to bite, and then he sealed that line with one of his massive hands.
That block put the finishing touches on the 2015 AVP Huntington Beach Open — Bourne and John Hyden’s second straight win –- and with it the professional beach volleyball season in the United States.
At the time, I was just nine days into my ongoing California adventure, having made the 35-hour trek from Navarre, Florida, to Newport Beach, and I was still in awe that I could watch professional beach volleyball players right there in my new backyard.
I remember wanting to get Bourne’s autograph that afternoon. I didn’t wait, for I figured he would certainly be mobbed by fans and media and would rather celebrate than sign something for a 25-year-old sort of grown-up.
A little more than two years has passed since and I have been fortunate enough to stumble into something far more than one autograph.
Next week, Bourne and I will launch a podcast: SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter.
You can credit him for the idea, and the editors at VolleyballMag for the name, and Marriott Vacation Club Rentals for the kind sponsorship. I’m just along for the ride.
If you’re reading this column, then you’re surely aware that Bourne took over the commentary of the AVP’s livestream this season. He did a decidedly excellent job, especially considering that he had exactly zero training before taking over, and there are few things more difficult than talking by yourself for a dozen hours.
I joined him once, on Saturday morning of the Manhattan Beach Open. My good friends Branden Clemens and Ben Vaught were playing Bourne’s childhood buds and fellow Hawaiians Riley and Maddison McKibbin. Bourne knew everything about the McKibbins. I knew as much as there was to know about Vaught and Clemens. It made for immediate chemistry, Bourne deferring to me when it came to details on Vaught and Clemens and vice-versa when it came to the McKibbins.
I think that, above all, speaks to what each of us brings to this podcast. Bourne brings with him massive clout in the beach-volleyball world. He’s one of the best blockers not just in the United States, but the world. He has an intimate knowledge of the game both from the perspective of an elite player and also as someone who knows all of the top players exceptionally well. I bring some media experience and a not-so-deep knowledge of the game –- but I know an almost uncomfortable amount of information about virtually every player within the top 100, having written on almost all of them at some point or other.
Tri probably described it best, at breakfast at the Oceanside Diner, one morning:
“You’re a rookie in beach volleyball but your career is in media. I’m a rookie in the media but my career is in beach volleyball.”
It’s going to be fun.
Each week, we’ll interview at least one influencer in the world of beach volleyball. This could be a player, team, coach, representative from the AVP –- anybody in the game that our listeners might find interesting. And that might include Tri, hopefully healthy again, competing around the globe on the circuit.
We hope each podcast will run between 30 and 45 minutes, keeping you entertained, or at least a little less enraged, on your commute in the inevitable L.A. traffic –- or wherever your traffic may be, should you be listening somewhere else in the country.
Our goal is to dive deeply into the world of beach volleyball, introducing you to the players and what makes them tick, what their stories are, what their goals are, what’s next in their journey. We want to pull back the curtains on their lives, what they do when they’re not on the sand, how they balance life on the beach with the one off it, which no doubt funds their ability to be on the beach at all.
Above all else, we want to grow this sport. We want to have fun, and we want you to have some fun with us.
A podcast –- a SANDCAST –- isn’t a bad place to start.