It was funny, what kept happening over the course over the year, a comical little motif that never failed to boggle my mind.

People would thank me.

They thanked me in Austin. To the great amusement and bafflement of my parents, they thanked me in New York. They thanked me in San Francisco. One person went as far as to ask for my autograph in Seattle. Mark Schuermann gave me a shout out for it during my introduction on what would become a dreadful stadium court match in Hermosa. A few lovely Georgians expressed their gratitude in Chicago.

Not for playing, mind you. No, for speaking. No, that’s not quite right, either. For asking questions, and then taking the audio answers of those questions from very accomplished individuals and putting them on iTunes, where people can then listen to them in podcast form.

They thanked me for SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter, which as of a few weeks ago hit its one-year anniversary.

SANDCAST-Tri Bourne-Travis Mewhirter

These thanks have always been curious to me.

Thank me?

No, no. Thank Tri Bourne.

The podcast was his idea, anyway. We initially met over the phone, the first interview I conducted for a book I’ve been working on that’s set to release this December. Then we met in person at the Manhattan Beach Open, where we did the livestream together. He loved it. I loved it, mostly because I got to talk to Tri Bourne – Tri Bourne! THE Tri Bourne! Ranked top-10 in the world Tri Bourne!

He liked the give and take we had, with his deep knowledge of how to play the game and its various nuances and my geeky knowledge of the characters and history of the game and an abnormal capacity for random and mostly useless numbers on BVBinfo. So we met at the Ocean Diner a month later and hashed out some ideas. He needed something to do while he was recovering from an autoimmune disease. I was the only beach volleyball writer or media member or whatever it is you’d like to call me that he knew.

He thought we’d make a good team.

Turns out, he was right, the first of many times he has steered us in the correct direction.

Thank me?

No, no, thank the players.

They’re the ones who voluntarily – though sometimes coaxed with wine and podsnacks – give up the two most precious things in life, the ones you cannot get back: time and stories. April Ross gave up two-plus hours despite a schedule I cannot begin to describe in terms of busyness. Same with Phil Dalhausser.

Two of the most successful players in the history of beach volleyball volunteered a good chunk of their time for no other reason than because – well, I don’t really know why. But they are, of little surprise, two of the most popular episodes we’ve done, despite being so early in our podcasting journey.

Ah, yes, the start of the podcast. For that, you can thank VolleyballMag, and the editor, Lee Feinswog, who oversees all of the stories that accompany the episodes. He’s the one who landed our initial sponsor, Marriott Vacation Club Rentals, which fronted the money for all of our equipment. It kept us from, at any point, going in the red.

We launched a project without a single investment from our end.

Thank me?

No, thank the sponsors who have continued to climb aboard to keep the show running. Thank Firefly Recovery and Wilson. Thank Pacific Coast Wealth Management and VolleyCamp Hermosa.

Thank the anonymous donor who funded our pet project, the SANDCAST Wildcard.

Tri and I had been looking for a way to truly help grow the game. So often we were thanked for the work we were doing, but what were we really doing? We were providing a platform, dispensing information, sure, but nothing to really help the players.

We came up with the idea of a wildcard, a way to fund qualifier players to their next tournament, to remove the sting of the $500 plane ticket and $100 entry fee to maybe, maybe, make $1,000 in main draw.

Only, we didn’t have the funding. Until we did. An email from a fan of the show, looking to help. And help he did, giving us the cash we needed to help 14 teams get to their next tournaments. A project that cost well into five figures, one that we didn’t fund on our own.

And we got the credit?

Nah, don’t thank me. Thank that guy (except he’s chosen to remain anonymous, so thank him mentally or something).

We have not been a perfect show. We’ve had our fair share of mishaps and audio bungles, and for that, we thank you for your patience. I accidentally deleted what is quite possibly the best interview I’ve ever done in 11 years as a journalist.

Thank me? Nah, thank Ed Ratledge, who delivered that perfect, perfect interview, and is willing to do another, despite my bungling of his first.

We’re figuring this thing out, Tri and I. Our first few shows were clumsy at times, mostly because I used to loathe interviews with multiple interviewers. I typically have topics and paths I’d like to steer the interviews towards, which is why I hate press conferences and other multi-interviewer formats. Tri would want it to go one way, I’d take it another. It took a minute for us to develop a working rapport, a type of silent communication where I could feel when he was ready to chime in and vice versa.

And while we’re on Tri, I’ll say this: He is without a doubt the most invaluable aspect to the show. You want to know why April and Phil and Taylor Crabb, three typically reserved athletes, were suddenly so open, so vulnerable, so phenomenal on the mic? Because Tri was there. He bridges the gap between the athletes and the, ahem, dreaded journalist – me – in the room. He keeps it conversational.

If the podcast is a road trip, I’m simply the GPS. I get us where we need to go. Tri is in the passenger seat deejaying and divvying out snacks (he literally divvies out snacks, too). He keeps it fun, casual, conversational. He keeps it entertaining.

So no, there is little need to thank me. I’m simply hanging on for the spectacular ride this podcast has taken me on this past year, and hopefully will continue to run for years to come.

I appreciate your thanks and gratitude. I really do. It’s fun, and I hope listeners continue to approach me in future events. I love talking to y’all, to hear your feedback, to get your insight.

But thank me?

Nah. You’re the listeners. You’re the ones who make the show worth making.

So thank yourselves.

Tri and I are beyond thankful for you.

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