SANDCAST: No matter where he lives, Logan Webber finding pro beach success

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Logan Webber-SANDCAST
Logan Webber hits line during the AVP Next New Orleans men's final/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

It’s a very normal question that very normal people tend to ask other normal people: Where do you live?

It’s a question Logan Webber is asked often, mainly because Logan Webber is not a normal person, and his answer is also decidedly not normal, mostly because he doesn’t really have an answer at all.

“I’ve been asked that question more in the last year than I ever would have anticipated,” Webber said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “I feel like people bring it up just because they know from other people — do you live in California? Do you live in Michigan? Do you live in Florida? It’s been an interesting year.”

Webber lives nowhere and yet, he is somehow everywhere. He’s in Florida one moment, training with LT Treumann in St. Petersburg. Then, suddenly, he’s in New York — New York? Playing a tournament with Kris Fraser, another blocker. Why is Webber in New York, playing a tournament no one knows about, with another blocker with whom he’s never once practiced?

The question Webber inevitably replies with in return: Why not?

“A lot of it was, I was in Michigan and there were no tournaments and I just wanted to play, so if there was a tournament that weekend I could go to, and if winning or getting second could pay for my trip then I was probably going to do it,” the 26-year-old Webber said. “It was more the desire to — I really just love traveling, seeing people again, playing against people who beat me before so I can try and beat them.”

Since 2018, the year Webber moved from his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, he has played in 92 tournaments under the AVP America umbrella. He has played with teenagers — Caleb Kwekel — and fathers in their mid-40s — Chris Luers. He has played with blockers — Max Martin, Fraser, Evan Cory — and with a small army of defenders. He has played up-and-comers — DR Vander Meer — and men who have since retired — Tom Kohler — and a few who have even quit the game and come back again — Christian Honer.

For three years, Webber has played and played and played, in everything and anything.

And this season, for the first time in his peripatetic career, he began to win. A lot.

It began in New Orleans. April. A colossal AVP Next Gold that boasted a $20,000 purse and a main draw bid to the 2021 Manhattan Beach Open. Webber had played in these events before. He’d even had what could be described as an abundant success. He’d just never won, a perpetual runner-up, the 2019 bridesmaid who was always finishing second or third, but never the one claiming that main draw bid.

“It was nice because the money — second was still paying for my summer,” Webber said. “There was never one where I broke through and won, which was unfortunate because the bid goes to the winner.”

Yet there he and Cory went, barnstorming their way through a field thick with main draw talent. Despite being seeded 10th, they won, in front of a boisterous home crowd for Cory that would galvanize the most successful season of both of their careers.

“We said that if we could make the semis, that would be sweet,” Webber said. “[Cory] came out and was just unbelievably good, especially that second day. The conditions of us playing five or six matches have always seemed to favor not only Evan but I think I play better in those situations. It helps that I try to play volleyball as much as I can. It was just a special weekend all the way around. For Evan to win that tournament, he just started crying, it was just a special moment you don’t get very often in any sport. That was his first big win of any sort, he hadn’t qualified, he hadn’t won an AVP Next, and to have that happen in New Orleans was just incredible.”

It was only the beginning. A month later, Webber won in New York with Fraser. Four days after that, he and Cory did it again, winning their second consecutive AVP Next Gold, under the lights and through the torrential rain in Waupaca. Then they did it again, winning after the wildest of rides in Seaside.

They lost in the AVP Atlanta qualifier to Avery Drost and Miles Partain in the final round, “and we just had our flights to Seaside booked because we said ‘Well we’re in the qualifier, we don’t want to book anything else.’ Evan’s flight got delayed,” Webber recalled. “Evan was still in Phoenix. My flight went pretty smooth, and even with my smooth flight, I got into Portland at 1 a.m. Evan was still in Phoenix at 7 a.m. and we played in Seaside at noon. There were so many times where I was like ‘There’s no way, this just isn’t going to happen.’

“We barely make it, we roll into Seaside at 11:55 for our noon match, and we play Tanner Woods and Evan Enriques, and Tanner comes in the first game and hits this 99 mile per hour BB right in the seam on the back line, and I’m like ‘That’s how it going to go?’ They ended up getting fifth and probably could have gotten second or third, and we played that team coming off five minutes of warm up.”

They’d drop just one match in Seaside, in the quarterfinals. But playing more matches is never a problem for Webber or Cory. They simply began the next day earlier, won two extra matches, and returned to the finals to exact their vengeance and claim yet another main draw bid, to Chicago.

“We got on that roll and it just didn’t stop,” Webber said. “Every time it was just like ‘Holy cow, did we just do that again? I can’t believe we did that again!’”

Which begs the question: How did the bridesmaid alas become the bride, over and over and over again?

Where did this breakthrough come from?

Asking Webber that question is akin to asking him where he lives: He doesn’t really know. There was no epiphany moment, never a tournament where a light bulb simply turned on and stayed that way. He just continued playing, continued competing, allowing the compound interest to build up and, in 2021, pay immense dividends, both literally and figuratively.

“I think a lot of it is that lost year of 2020. I played almost as many tournaments in 2020 as I did in 2019, which was hard to do,” Webber said. “So many of them were just these tiny little tournaments. I felt like during that season, I realized how fragile this whole world of volleyball really is. We could never come back to having an AVP. So much of this is so fragile and small in the big picture of things, I just want to go out here and go for it. There’s nothing to lose going for a jump serve on match point. You miss it and so what? You’re losing a volleyball game. I think trying to carry that into 2021 — ok, I’ve lost 1,000 tournaments before, I might as well switch something up and going for it. This could literally be gone in a flash and just not worrying as much.”

He recognizes the irony of it: That his acceptance of losing is the very thing that begat all this winning. And now that he is winning, he isn’t changing a thing. He’s still scouring the schedule for tournaments, like the 2021 Laguna Open, another major non-AVP which he won with Seain Cook. He’s still willing to move around, free as a bird, even considering temporarily relocating to New Orleans to train with Cory and their coach, Joey Keener.

Essentially, more than anything, Logan Webber is willing to adapt to whatever the world throws at him, wherever that happens to be.

“I’m still looking to knock off a good main draw team in a main draw,” Webber said. “The few times I’ve gotten in: ‘OK I’m in, let’s see if I can win one game.’ Instead of ‘Let’s see if we can win four games and try to get to a fifth or a Sunday.’ I feel like, for me in AVPs, that’s the next step. I’m in, now I need to start winning some of these games.”

And Heaven knows he’ll move wherever and play in whatever it takes to do just that.

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