Over four weeks ago, I accepted a job. A simple job, but a job nonetheless. Basically, I needed to pass the time while the worldwide hunt for a position I was proud to call my own carried on.
Working days for my new employer became my livelihood, writing volleyball-related blogs at night became my therapeutic salvation. Research atop research occupied my down time and one important piece (opinion) of literature was produced.
“What’s at Stake” required two-plus weeks of “work” in order to adequately formulate the rhetoric sufficient to justify my opinion on the board room battle about to be waged in Holyoke, Massachusetts. I read 52 pages of USAV bylaws. I read through Ryan Morgan’s proposal, front and back. I read and listened to the voice recording of the detailed notes following my phone conversation with Chairman of the Board, David Schreff. I read through everything I have ever written about the subject in order to remain accountable for my previous opinions regarding both USA Volleyball and the AVP.
What I didn’t know going in was that all of that work, all of that passion, would eventually land me a side-gig at the place I have spent most of the last four years writing about: the AVP. – Also presenting an ideal opening for me to hand in the keys at my previous occupation before I got in too deep with something I most certainly wasn’t passionate about.
I know what most of you are thinking. The AVP? And you’re probably right. How could I take a job with the organization that I have, let’s face it, not always been on the same side of since first qualifing back in 2004? Or, more likely, why on Earth would the AVP hire Hans Stolfus, after all the published material detailing the player’s overall lack of trust with management? Yes, I just third-personed myself.
I’ll tell you the answer to both of those questions: New CEO of the AVP, Jason Hodell. He’s the guy. He’s the future. And he’s the single, solitary reason I’m now sitting in my Herman Miller, looking out my bedroom window at the wet grass and Christmas-light swathed spruce tree, with an alternate column open at the bottom of my screen that isn’t being edited for hansstolfus.com.
But look at it. It meaning this opportunity. I can now write about the sport I love, to a much broader audience, and earn a little scrill while I’m at it. Take my first editorial on avp.com for example, “Sand Game Seeking Spot in the Sun,” it’s probably a little more thorough than anything you’re going to find over here, let’s be honest. Not counting “What’s at Stake” of course, but that’s about the most research I’ve ever done on a blog and I don’t see that kind of time or energy being put into something that generates zero revenue ever again. Fortunately, I no longer have to.
In regards to “What’s at Stake,” and the final outcome following the infamous board meeting in Holyoke; well, let’s just say the AP press release I published was basically full of nothing but smoke and mirrors. Not that Jimmy Golen wrote an inaccurate story; just that nothing he stated was going to be resolved, was actually resolved. USAV’s written rebuttal to the players was apparently based around the concept that ignorance in response to a valid argument leads to eventual conflict abandonment. And by acknowledging their true intentions, they blatantly disrespected, to the umpteenth percent, gold medalists Todd Rogers and Kerri Walsh. Who, as the article stated, were present at the meeting on behalf of the players, representing all of our rights as professional beach volleyball athletes.
Kerri and Todd have proven time and time again that they truly stand up for the betterment of the sport of beach volleyball and its players. I know it’s certainly easier to hang on the sideline, watching the game as it’s being played in front of you, but second teamers in this type of situation do nothing but compound the problem. USAV knows very well that professional beach volleyball players have a documented history of not standing up for themselves, so they’re only going to continue feeding off our inability to come together as a whole.
What needs to be said is simple: If you’re a player that doesn’t speak up in favor of the sport you love, then you don’t care about the sport at all. We are only what we stand for this in life, and if you don’t stand for anything; then what are you?
I hate to quote one of those cheesy images designed to generate inspiration and motivation, but I had this one on my wall growing up and for some reason, I think it might have helped shape who I have become:
“Without opinions, values or beliefs, you’re nothing more than a waltz; the most boring dance in the world.”
I don’t know who wrote it, or if it’s even accurate enough to quote, but I do know it accompanied an elegant photo of two graceful dancers performing the waltz.
Now, don’t get me wrong, life doesn’t have to be ultra dramatic in order to serve a purpose; I’m merely talking about believing in something and standing up for it. Kerri and Todd have done just that.
So, I not only speak for myself, but also the 43 players who wrote in to USAV expressing their support of a new USA Beach Volleyball, when I say thank you. And to Jason Hodell, I also speak for myself when I say thank you; for taking over the tour, providing the players with hope and landing me my first online writing gig that pays. I will never stop writing the good word in honor of the great sport of beach volleyball, and I’m lucky to have a new outlet that can hopefully further propel the sport in a positive direction.
I don’t know about everybody else, but with Jason Hodell, Todd Rogers and Kerri Walsh leading the way, I think we have a pretty bright future.
Look for a new editorial column every Friday afternoon @avp.com