Stein Metzger remembers the Futon-in-the-garage days. Somewhat fondly, of course, as it goes with memories of few responsibilities, fewer needs and even fewer wants. All he needed was that small bed, the floor of a buddy’s garage to crash on, and a bus pass to State Beach to get in his training.
That was in 1996, when Metzger was fresh out of UCLA, winner of three men’s NCAA national championships. That’s the thing about national championships, however: They don’t pay. And so it was that Metzger left UCLA with three rings and a growing pile of debt to make the beach dream work.
For post-grads like Metzger, that’s how it largely went for the next two-plus decades: Little to no official training or resources or support for athletes entering the professional beach scene. Beach players have been left to their own devices for training.
For the previous two years, p1440 has steadily been building its Developmental Program, a support system for athletes looking to make the same jump that Metzger did, complete with coaching, physical training, physical therapy, and intrasquad tournaments throughout each session. Now Metzger is the one overseeing that system, taking over for Marcio Sicoli as the Director of Player and Business Development.
Like another UCLA coach, John Speraw, who coaches not only the Bruins men’s team but also the USA national team, Metzger will handle both jobs.
“Getting an opportunity to join a team that has dedicated resources and time and effort to athletes that are coming out of college to help them and assist them make the job I think is incredible,” Metzger said. “And I’m super excited and passionate about helping these athletes. I’m excited to bring a brand of volleyball that I’ve learned over the course of a 15-year professional career.
“Having an opportunity to work with some great coaches and to learn from them. And really, I see myself as a vessel from that experience and all of those coaches and players that I got to work with and play against. And my hope is to be able to translate all those experiences towards our athletes and just give them a great platform to launch their careers.”
If there is one thing Metzger has proven over the course of his career in volleyball, it’s his ability to launch a career. He launched his own, from his buddy’s garage, making the 2004 Athens Games, winning 16 AVPs and two FIVB titles. He even unofficially trademarked his own shot — the Steino pokey that nobody, no matter if they knew, just knew, it was coming, seemed to be able to stop.
As a coach, he launched UCLA’s beach team into a different stratosphere, winning back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2018 and 2019, setting an NCAA record with 40 wins in 2019. Now he’s charged with launching another program still in its infancy, one that he could have used as a post-grad of UCLA.
“The addition of Stein to the p1440 Developmental Program is absolutely huge,” p1440 co-founder Kerri Walsh Jennings said. “We know he will lead our athletes and developmental programming with the same creative, analytical and winning mindset he brought to his incredible playing career and continues to bring daily to his national-championship program at UCLA.
“His leadership will also bridge cutting edge volleyball training with old school, proven fundamentals and allow p1440 to best serve our growing pipeline of young athletes who want to learn from the best and make their way to the top.”