CABO, Mexico — When the final point was won, and Eric Beranek and Bill Kolinske moved on at AVP Hawai’i, a seam ace putting the final nail in the coffin for Troy Field and Tim Bomgren, there was no tantrum. No throwing of hats or punting balls. There was hardly even a shake of the head.
Field simply walked under the net and wrapped up Beranek, his good friend, in a sandy, sweaty hug.
“When you see your best friend having success,” Field said last weekend, pausing, sitting next to that very friend on a patio in Cabo, Mexico, for a South of the Border Volleyball Vacation. “I was like ‘Dude, I am so, so proud of you.’ We play each other all the time. Every week. I’m happy for pretty much everyone. I love to share the success of my peers, whoever you are.”
They are, mostly, happy for each other’s success in this sport. They are fellow grinders, Beranek and Field, two big, goofy, extroverted personalities with unlimited upsides, both as athletes and as personal brands in a sport hungry for them. There is Field, with the pink hat, astonishing vertical, and swings that so few can emulate it’s best not to try. And there is Beranek, a South Bay beach rat, with his fo-hawk mullet, blonde mustache, and a retro style of play and fashion that can really only be described as the Fresh Prince of Beach Volleyball.
The E&T Show is what they’ve dubbed themselves. You can catch their irregularly scheduled programming mostly on Instagram and occasionally on the Amazon Prime livestream. Field was the first of the two to make his breakthrough on that stream, making three straight Sundays to begin the 2019 AVP season. Then came Beranek, who danced his way through the Manhattan Beach Open qualifier and into the semifinals. Eleven matches later, he could finally rest his tireless pistons of legs, a third place on the sport’s biggest stage now on the resume.
Now they enter this season — or pre-season, perhaps — with as much hope as any up-and-comers on Tour. Beranek can feel the difference in practice.
“It’s a little different of a vibe, like ‘I’m gonna try to kick your ass, and you know that I can,’” he said on SANDCAST: Beach volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “Whether I do it or not, maybe it’s not up to me that day. I just gotta put the puzzle pieces together.”
The pieces are coming together for both of them. This upcoming season will be the first time for both that they enter with a set partner with whom they can practice and prepare full-time. Field has partnered with veteran and Olympian Casey Patterson. Beranek has chosen another younger player in Andy Benesh, whose breakthrough came in Hermosa Beach this past year. They’re still best friends, playing beach volleyball. But now they’re also professionals.
This is, simply, what they do.
“Casey’s my first partner where we’re consistently practicing,” Field said. “He’s seeing my bad moments, I’m seeing his bad moments. He’s seeing my great moments, I’m seeing his. We’re finding that balance of what the practice schedule looks like. I’m still working on my technique and getting better at all this other little stuff, whereas Casey has been there, done that, improving, staying ready, pushing himself to the season.
“I’m learning a ton about him, learning how to be an athlete off the court, how to be a brand. I want to eventually provide for a family like he’s been doing.”
What he learns, he’ll share with Beranek, and vice versa. That’s how they work: Rivals on the court, the best of brothers off it. While the season may be delayed until mid-June, rest assured, Beranek and Field will be putting in their work, waiting for the E&T Show to debut for another year on the beach.