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U.S. Beach Volleyball Update: Embracing Change

Jan. 23, 2013, 7:02 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Communications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org
@USA_Volleyball - @USAV Beach USAV Facebook

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 23, 2013) – Change can be scary, or it can be invigorating… or it can be a little of both.

U.S. beach volleyball players Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Ryan Doherty (Toms River, N.J.) are embracing the changes that have led them to form a new partnership for 2013.

Todd Rogers dives for the ball during the 2012 Olympic Games

Rogers, 39, (in photo at left) has broken up with Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.), his partner of seven years with whom he competed in two Olympic Games, winning the gold medal in 2008. The pair also won the 2007 FIVB World Championships and the 2010 FIVB World Tour Championship along with numerous international and domestic titles.

Doherty, 28, was pursuing a career as a professional baseball pitcher until 2007, when he was released from the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system. He moved in with a friend in North Carolina and started playing beach volleyball. At a little over 7-feet tall, he found success and moved to Southern California to pursue the sport full time.

When Rogers learned that Dalhausser would be playing with two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.) in 2013, he contacted Doherty, who played with Casey Patterson (Van Nuys, Calif.) in 2012. Rogers and Dalhausser had played Doherty and Patterson twice in 2012.

“I met him in Baltimore at the NVL Preakness event,” Rogers said. “They beat us in the final.

“I didn’t see him again until Cincinnati (AVP). We beat them there. By then, Phil and I had spoken and I knew he was headed toward a different partner.”

Rogers called Doherty somewhat out of the blue in September with an offer to be his partner and coach. Doherty quickly jumped at the opportunity to play with Rogers. He spoke with Patterson, who has since formed a partnership with Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah), Rosenthal’s former partner, for 2013.

“It’s worked out unbelievably well for all of us,” Doherty said. “My main goal has always been to see how good I can get. I want to see how good at this game I can be.”

Now Rogers, who has traveled all over the world in pursuit of volleyball victories, will be partner and coach to Doherty, who has never been out of the United States. The pair plans to compete on the FIVB World Tour as well as domestic events that fit their schedule.

“One of the things I recognize in myself is that I love to coach,” Rogers said. “I saw Ryan as a very raw partner, but one that I could coach.”

Ryan Doherty attacks during a 2012 Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Series event in Belmar, N.J.

Both Rogers and Doherty know that Doherty (in photo at right) has a long way to go.

Doherty has been doing strength training and conditioning at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, Calif., but will soon move to Santa Barbara to train on the beach full time with Rogers.

“Being a baseball player, I didn’t get the reps a lot of these other players got,” Doherty said. “I need to work on the mechanics of passing the ball and the mechanics of setting. I want to make sure my passing is better. I want to open up the court offensively and work on the softer game as opposed to swinging away.”

Rogers agreed that Doherty needs to work on “everything” and added that the new team will also need time to develop their communication styles so they can play in synch with each other.

“I think that’s really a lost factor on a lot of people; even people who have a good idea of the game,” he said. “Creating a bond with a partner on the beach is not something you have overnight. I always say it takes six months to a year. Phil and I were at the point where we knew what each of us was going to do based on a serve or attack.

“I’m sure it will be the same with Ryan. That’s just practice and playing. We’ll get there.”

MORE SCHOOLS ADD SAND VOLLEYBALL

Over the past week, both UCLA and the University of Arizona have announced that they are adding women’s sand volleyball as varsity sports.

UCLA has hired Stein Metzger (Honolulu, Hawaii), a 2004 Olympian in beach volleyball who played indoor volleyball for the Bruins, to coach its team. The UCLA sand team will practice and compete at the Annenberg Community Beach facility in Santa Monica.

Arizona will use Steve Walker, currently an assistant with its women’s indoor volleyball team, to coach the Wildcats

Fifteen NCAA Division I universities sponsored the sand volleyball in 2011-12, its inaugural year, and 29 will now compete in 2012-13.

In order to be an officially sponsored NCAA championship sport, there must be 40 competing institutions in two consecutive seasons. Within the Pac-12 Conference, four schools presently sponsor the sport (California, Stanford, UCLA, USC) with at least one other member considering adding the sport.

The inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships were held last April in Gulf Shores, Ala., and that site will host the championship from 2013 to 2015.

Arizona added sand volleyball as a high school varsity sport in 2011-12 with California following in 2012-13.

READER RETIRES

Canadian Martin Reader has announced he is retiring from the sport to pursue other opportunities.

Reader and partner Josh Binstock finished 17th at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

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