SANDCAST: John Mayer turns his focus to full-time coaching

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AVP Chicago 2018 Friday-AVP-Chicago-John Mayer
John Mayer smiles with the crowd after making three spectacular digs to win a point/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

It’s fitting that John Mayer would spend much of his retirement podcast talking about everyone except John Mayer.

Much of it was spent discussing Trevor Crabb, despite Mayer even catching himself midway through and mentioning that he didn’t want it to be “a full Trevor Crabb podcast.” It didn’t stop him from singing Crabb’s praises further, though, nor did it stop him from elaborating on the positives of former partners Jeremy Casebeer, Ryan Doherty, Brad Keenan as well as his podcast partner, Billy Allen. Almost anyone who Mayer came into contact with over the course of a career that spanned from 2003-2018, he made sure to bring up.

It was a podcast as fitting as the manner in which he made his retirement known, which is to say, completely on accident.

“I didn’t want to make a deal of it,” he said on this week’s SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “I had known this year – it’s just been so hard to do LMU and play at a high level, and I felt like I was being average at both. And plus, my passion’s gone to coaching. I just love it, I get consumed by it. I thought this might be my last year [playing]. I just thought I’d see how I feel in the offseason, if I felt like I was missing something. I still loved all the coaching and I wasn’t missing the lifting and conditioning.

“I told my wife on our way to the AVP banquet, because she’s the one who would say something, just ‘Please don’t say anything. I don’t have a speech prepared, not that anyone would care’ but I knew she might say something to Mark [Schuermann, the AVP’s emcee]. She said ‘Oh, yeah, I won’t say anything,’ so the night was going through fine, ‘Alright, I’m off the hot seat, having a good time, just hanging out,’ and at the end of the night, Mark starts talking about me, and I’m like ‘What is he doing?’ And he says ‘Come up here!’ And I’m like ‘Why do I have to go up there?’ And he says ‘You gotta say something!’ My absolute nightmare.”

The reception, of course, was warm across the board. Quiet and humble, soft-spoken and endearingly self-deprecating, Mayer is retiring as one of the most respected players in the country, both for the way he played and the manner in which he carried himself.

Retiring, too, almost seems like a misnomer. He’s retiring as a player, yes, but Mayer actually might be on the beach more now than in the past decade. With the time he’d typically devote to the weight room, he’s now available to coach beach teams, the first of which to hire him is Billy Allen and Stafford Slick. He’s helping launch a beach division of Gold Medal Squared. He’s devoting more of himself to Loyola Marymount, the program he has helped improve from 6-17 to 15-14 to 22-14.

And even the unquestionable, objective improvement he has overseen at LMU, he had to shed the credit.

“I think I just scheduled more matches so we could get more wins,” he said, laughing.

Ah, yes, it’s never to his own credit. The four AVP wins, two FIVB gold medals, 2015 AVP, 2015 Best Defensive Player – all a credit to someone else who helped him along the way, be it a coach (“I owe Tom Black everything,” he said), a partner, his wife, anyone.

That’s Mayer. He even mentioned that perhaps he would have had a more successful career in spots had he chosen to focus on improving himself a little more as opposed to always, always, always attempting to bring the best out of his partner. But that just wouldn’t have been Mayer.

He’s a coach, after all. Through and through.

Now he’s set aside to become the best he can be at that, a role in which his own improvement will mean the inevitable improvement and development of those around him.

A role befitting the man who has always put others first.

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