Todd Rogers

Todd Rogers and the Art of Beach Volleyball

By Craig J. Heimbuch

They call him “The Professor,” in part because of his knowledge of the game, in part because of his experience, but also because of his demeanor on the court. In the vibrant sweat and sand world of professional beach volleyball, he exudes quiet confidence. If he were a baseball player, he’d be like Greg Maddox – not the most gifted athlete, not the most dominant physical presence, but the guy who knows just where to put the ball so that you can’t get it.

Todd Rogers has had a remarkable career with the AVP, winning Best Defensive Player honors in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008; MVP in 2006; God of the Beach in 2006, Rookie of the Year in 1997. He has 52 individual career wins, 39 with his partner and fellow Olympic Gold Medalist Phil Dalhausser and is in the Top 10 all-time in both career and team earnings.

Rogers is bringing his winning experience to this year’s AVP Croc’s Tour stop in Mason over Labor Day Weekend. We caught up with him on the road to ask about life as an Olympic Champion, the rise of beach volleyball in American culture and, of course, his love of Top Gun.

CP: It’s been a year since Beijing, how has life has changed since the gold? Are you recognized more now? Do you feel more pressure as a playes? Off the sand?

Todd Rogers: I’m recognized a little bit more but I live in a small town so once everyone had said congrats, it was just like usual. No Pressure. Accomplished the goal.

CP: It seems like the sport’s gained a great deal of attention across the country and world over the last ten years. How has that extra attention impacted the sport and the players? Do you and Phil feel, as gold medalists, like ambassadors?

TR: I do feel like an ambassador of the sport. I think we should be having accomplished what we have accomplished. It is our duty to try and grow the sport in my opinion.

CP: How has the reception been overseas? The crowds looked pretty good in China, has that kept pace?

TR: The events we have been to, yes. They are the bigger events though and therefore I would expect it. I get recognized more often overseas, which is kind of cool, but weird.


CP: A majority of AVP players have ‘day jobs.’ What would you be doing if you weren’t a volleyball player?

TR: I would be coaching without question.

CP: Where do you see the sport going? Will there be a day when the AVP can support more than just the top handful of players as full-time athletes?

TR: I hope the sport will go up and up. I do feel that if we can get to the next level the AVP could support the top 32 players and not just, say, the top 10.


CP: If volleyball were not an option is there another sport/sports you would pursue? And how was it you came to beach volleyball?

TR: I am from Santa Barbara and volleyball and beach volleyball are big sports in SB. I was always a soccer player- through one year at UCSB. Not sure if I would be good enough though.


CP: Better beach volleyball on the big screen: “Side Out” or “Top Gun?”

TR: Top Gun. One of my favorite movies of all time. Even though I was an extra in Side Out.

CP: Ever catch any celebrities in the stands?
TR: Rarely in the states. Overseas yes but I don’t know them unless they are pointed out to me.

CP: Can other sports learn from the level of interaction between players and fans the AVP has? There’s a lot of face time with the crowd around the grounds of a tournament. Is that a blessing or a curse?
TR: Yes. I think our interaction is second to none. It is both a blessing and curse. Great to interact but when it is Phil and I or Kerri and Misty, sometimes it gets a little overboard.

CP: Who is the greatest professional athlete of all-time? Who is the greatest in the world today?
TR: I don’t know. I think you need to define what an athlete is.

Don’t miss Todd Rogers and his Gold Medal partner Phil Dalhausser as they take on the rest of the AVP at this year’s AVP Croc’s Tour in Mason, Labor Day weekend at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. For more information and tickets, go to www.mustseeavp.com.