Dain Blanton (00:00:00):
Speech volleyball needs more personalities, more animation, more fun, more intensity, more rivals because people love rivalries. And people, like I mentioned earlier, love a hero and a villain. And they like when maybe that hero and villain are not that friendly, that's the best. But all these things, they can't change overnight. It, like I said, I'm all for it. Like you gotta control it to a certain level, but I like giving players the freedom to express themselves to a certain point. There's intensity. That's the cool thing about volleyball,
Mark Burik (00:00:33):
It's Beach Volleyball Podcast. My name is Mark Burik. And if you're on our email list and if you're paying attention, normally I don't get nervous for interviews, but this is special. This is cool. This is somebody I've looked up to for a really long time. And somebody that most of the world could, should and does look up to. You've heard his voice everywhere in volleyball. You've seen his face everywhere in volleyball. He's had enormous success and yeah, I'm not gonna lie. I don't get like nervous or starstruck often, but this is one of those times. where I'm I truly am. So hopefully I don't mess this all up and go all fanboy, but I'm really excited to have this conversation and I'll give a, a little bit of his background. So, uh, he's spent time mentoring students and, uh, he's been a motivational speaker through a nonprofit organization called getting to gold.
He founded a charity in 1997 called blank. First name day at the beach. We can't give away his first name yet, but day at the beach, which provides urban youth with the opportunity to participate in beach volleyball. He became, this might give it away. He became the first male African American to win a major beach volleyball event. When he claimed the 1997 AVP Hermosa beach grand slam, he was the United States. First two time, male beach volleyball Olympian. He has had a distinguished career as a sports broadcaster covering sports, such as NBA basketball, major league baseball, college basketball, football beach, volleyball for networks on ESPN, NBC, ABC Fox sports net, universal sports network, PAC 12 networks, Olympic channel and Amazon prime. And he's covered beach volleyball for NBC at the 2016 Olympics in his first full season. He led the women of Troy USC to the 2021 NCAA championship after four years as a volunteer assistant, which we're gonna dive into how somebody with this amazing credentials goes into a volunteer assistantship as a coach.
And he is an Olympic gold medalist. He's currently in his third season as the head coach of USA beach volleyball. Everybody, please welcome. And thank for coming on the show. Dain Blanton, Dain Blanton, man. I know we talked a little bit before and I don't know if you know, like how kind of nervous I truly am, but I just really wanna thank you for coming in and hanging out and with all that you have going on. And now, like we were talking off camera, you know, a four and a half year old and, and becoming a, a father and, and a husband and then a premier NCAA program, plus being essentially the voice of beach volleyball for 10 years. I can't believe you took the time to come and talk. So thank you. I'll start with
Dain Blanton (00:03:37):
That. Thank you. Thanks for having me on, you know, I've, I've seen you doing your thing and the whole better bat beach format is pretty cool. You know, the more you can help players get better is that's kind of what it's all about. And thanks for that introduction and happy to be here. Hopefully we're gonna have a good time.
Mark Burik (00:03:53):
Yeah, we're definitely gonna have a good time. I've got, you know, a number of questions for you. And I do want to, at some point tell a story that like made you a hero in my eyes as a young player in terms of heckling. But I guess the first question I'll ask that might be a good question for some people who are watching, how do you teach your players to handle heckling, to handle out that like fans who are chirping people who don't believe in you, the disbelievers, what, what would you say to, to anybody who's not feeling that confident and thinks that they're getting hammered from the outside?
Dain Blanton (00:04:29):
Are you talking like a live heckler at a tournament? Kind of
Mark Burik (00:04:32):
Let's start with that or because I specifically saw one situation, I'll tell it right after your answer
Dain Blanton (00:04:38):
That I was
Mark Burik (00:04:40):
Involved with. Yep.
Dain Blanton (00:04:41):
I mean, you know, it's, as you, if you grow up in the environment, you kind of know that the beach volleyball is, is very cliquey and a lot of trash talk and you kind of get used to, and you know, it, if you pick up the game a little later, you might be surprised by being heckled. But I think I grew up in the environment where, you know, I grew up down in orange county, Laguna beach when we would spend the night at the beach to watch the pro events in the morning. And fortunately I had older brothers, so I was able to go down at a younger age. I was probably 10, and this is, you know, mid eighties. And the first 10, 15 rows were taken if you came in the morning because people would bring down couches, buried kegs in the ground.
I mean, it was a huge like party and the fans were probably three feet from the sidelines. It was ridiculous. Like if you chased the ball off the court, you were going through the, the crowd. And so to see like C Smith and Randy Stok close and Mike DOD and Holin come on the court Saturday morning and play, it was just like, these guys were legends. And it was at a time when the sport was so brand new and kind of cutting edge and, you know, prior to having X games and all the, the, the competition that the sport has now, but watching those guys play, I mean, they would get heckled all the time. And so you would see that as a kid, how they responded and sometimes things got outta control. Sometimes, you know, there would be kind of wrestling match. I've seen Randy, Stok close going to the crowd and grab somebody, uh, you know, I've seen all sorts of things.
So when you see that at a young age and then, you know, that it's possible, right. Mm-hmm , and you know, you've kind of seen someone how they handle it. And you know, so when, you know, I don't know what the story is that you have, but when, once I got to the professional level, you're kind of ready for anything. Of course, if a heckler's an idiot and he's talking, you know, about personal issues or race or something like that, you know, that can kind of derail things. And it's hard to, to prepare for something like that. But regular heckling, you, you love a good heckler. You, you gotta appreciate it as an athlete.
Mark Burik (00:06:55):
Dain Blanton (00:06:56):
Mark Burik (00:06:57):
If you're getting involved, you're showing interest in the sport, right. It's like
Dain Blanton (00:07:01):
Of, of them are funny. Some of them are funny, you know, and you know, a good heckler. If he makes you laugh, heckling you, then he's done a, you know, a pretty good job. But, um, I'd love to hear the story that you're referring to.
Mark Burik (00:07:13):
It was either Manhattan or Hermosa had it had to be one of them, but somebody, you were still playing the event. This was after your gold medal. And I think pretty sure you were playing with Stafford.
Dain Blanton (00:07:24):
Okay. Yeah. That would've been like, I played with Stafford in 2010. That was the last tournament I played in.
Mark Burik (00:07:32):
So somebody was sitting on the ground yap in the whole time. And he was like, you know, has been and blah, blah. And everybody's looking at this guy, like you're making too much noise for somebody with his credentials. Right. And at some point, you know, I had not seen it to this point yet or seen a professional, do it. I've walked over. I've had partners who walked over and, you know, shut some people up. But he was sitting on the sand, he walked over to the back, over the banners and you held your ball and you stood like real tall, like two feet from him. And you asked him, who are you? And as he started talking, he goes, what's your name? As he started talking, he said, I don't know it, nobody here knows it. And nobody cares what you have to say. so keep quiet.
Dain Blanton (00:08:22):
Mark Burik (00:08:23):
And I was like,
Dain Blanton (00:08:26):
Mark Burik (00:08:29):
Removal I have ever seen. You know, he chirped like maybe twice more like a peep, you know, Adam, but he was silence. He did not expect to be singled out as a heckler. You know, he's shown up for the crowd and you didn't hear from him for the rest of the match, except for one little like, kind of like last walking away, you know, peep. And I was like, that was the best reaction I've seen and way to like control and big dog. Somebody very calmly too. , it's
Dain Blanton (00:09:02):
Funny when you're Ling, you know, like it's a lot easier when you are hidden into the, in the crown, you know, and, and no, and it's all just coming from a general area. And then when it's like, oh no, it's just about you now. You know, what do you got? And so that's, that's funny. I didn't, I didn't remember it that vividly that that's good to hear that worked, you know, I mean, he could have came back with twice the fire, you just never know. Right. That's the risk of going into the crowd to talk to, you know, and involving someone in the crowd. But, um, that's funny. I'm glad it worked.
Mark Burik (00:09:35):
It worked great. Is there a similar message? So when you're now you're coaching at one of the, the most prestigious NCAA programs that there is and stor programs. Yeah. When you are teaching players, athletes about dealing with that pressure, dealing with negative fans. I mean, I was brutal to some, I was a big time heckler in college for our women's team. I had their back nonstop, you know? And, and so to a college or even younger player, how would you tell them to deal with those negative actions, the heckler? So the people who are, who are coming from the outside and Shering on their game. Yeah.
Dain Blanton (00:10:13):
It's hard because every situation's a little different. You just, you want to test your athletes in practice situation where you're in a controlled environment. I mean, there's a lot of times like I'm reffing a game and I make poor calls intentionally just to get that fire going, you know, that play a riled up. So you kind of have to, and it's, it's hard to like literally heckle one of your players, but you wanna get 'em to the point to where they're so focused that, you know what, doesn't matter what the crowd's saying. Doesn't matter what the ref's saying. Doesn't matter that it's windy, that it's raining, that, you know, you just teach this, Hey, whatever I'm dealing with out there are probably the opponents dealing with the same thing. But, you know, with heckling, maybe not right, that you're getting the brunt of something, but it it's a matter of being basically okay, with your game, being able to focus with the distractions cuz you know how it is, there's always distractions.
And so every situation's different, but I try to teach the players to keep that focus regardless, you know, I don't say, Hey, you're gonna experience a heckler or Hey, the one day the wind's gonna be blowing the way you don't like it. Or you just throw different things out. Like maybe there's a great play and all of a sudden the ball rolls on the court, you know, and, and they lose the point and you gotta do it again. And you just have to be just a, you kind of, not a machine, but you have to just keep getting up and going at it and going at it, regardless of what the distraction is. I really like to say the one thing that is inevitable is going to be a challenge or an obstacle in your face. Right? That's like, that is going to happen. I tell that when we're doing anything, when we're traveling, when we're, Hey, there's, you know, we could get a delayed fight, our flight could get canceled.
We might show up late. We might, you know what I mean? There's just like, if you're ready and then when those instances happen, you say to yourself, Hey, this is what I was talking about. It, we don't control what happens to us. We control how we respond to it. Right. So yeah. It's like, oh, we're stuck in the airport for four more hours. Well, we gotta study more. You know what I mean? Like what are you gonna do about it? What are you gonna do? You can either, you know, bitch about it and kick rocks or try to be productive about it. So that's kind of how I approach it. You know, not specific heckling, but distractions.
Mark Burik (00:12:41):
One of our other, yes on our podcast said that we teach and we tell our girls that the obstacles, the things that happen bad, we approach it as this is what is supposed to happen. Mm-hmm , you're supposed to get obstacles. Mm-hmm it, it shouldn't treat it as the unexpected or the unfortunate, but it is the road that we're walking and this road has rocks and mountains and peace and valleys. And that's the road that we chose to walk. So embrace it as if every little problem was truly supposed to be there. And I kinda like the way that, that, that was put.
Dain Blanton (00:13:16):
Yeah, that's, that's very true. You that's the one constant is challenges and obstacles like they're going to happen. So get ready. And, and then I think those that manage those situations better usually are victorious and more successful for sure.
Mark Burik (00:13:33):
You know, we'll go probably to a conversation you've had a million times, but to your gold medal, right. Mm-hmm I guess in my twenties, all through my twenties, every time I showed up to a tournament, I sensed my body. I felt like, mm it's this tightness or this looseness or this fatigue. And I would look at it and feel it and be like, Hmm, it's a little bit less than prime or it's too tight, you know, or too loose or, oh, my legs are jello. And I think I would let that affect how I played. I would actually change because of how I felt my body. And I wondered for so long, like, man, I bet Jake always just feels perfect. You know, I bet Phil always feels perfect, but then you get older and you start seeing like Jake had the stomach flu when he won in Seattle. And he was just clamping people. Phil was winning with a torn app and you're just like, oh wait, these guys aren't feeling perfect all the time. They're managing all of these and maybe they're just doing it better or mentally better. So when you're coming up and then crushing the world, how did you approach going into a match with different body fields? Or was that ever even something that entered your mind?
Dain Blanton (00:14:41):
No, absolutely. Like that's one of the, the most important lessons an athlete can learn as they're getting better and progressing in their career. That there's no perfect. There's no perfect feeling. Usually. I mean there's times when you feel really good and you're ready to go, but a lot of times you got little kinks you're neck tight, or you know, maybe you actually have an injury or, you know, you slept wrong or you didn't eat well or you ate something bad and you're not feeling well. I mean, I've played in finals where, you know, I've thrown up before just feeling sick. But you, I think like you said, you eventually learned no, not, not me, not the next person shows up every day and it's perfect. It's like, you learn to manage the game that you show up with on that day. Right? It's like, if, you know, if you golf, sometimes you go out and you start hitting balls and every ball's going out to the right, right. At a certain point, you realize I'm not gonna fix this. So maybe I'm gonna start aiming a little more to the left. Do you see what I mean? So that the ball, so the ball ends up in the fairway. Right? You can either fight it or you can work with it. Right.
Mark Burik (00:15:53):
That's an interesting, when I thought about maybe your response to this, I was thinking like, don't let that feeling, change your game. Just do whatever you practiced and stick with that. But you're saying feel what you have feel, what it is and, and adjust to that in the moment. Is that kind
Dain Blanton (00:16:09):
Of, yeah. I mean, cause think about it for a while. You're gonna be fighting, like you've trained, right? You've gotten to this point, you're not gonna train yourself in the next 10 minutes. Right. Mm-hmm so you're getting this, there's some reason whether something's not firing that the ball's going a certain direction, you can continue to fight that. And throughout your whole round of golf and everything keeps going in the trees to the right, or you can say, oh, this is the kind of game that I'm working with today. You know, like you might show up and you can't bury the ball at 90%. You're only your toughest hits 80, 70% for some reason, stop that
Mark Burik (00:16:45):
Today. Yeah. Right.
Dain Blanton (00:16:46):
So you, maybe you start using a little more shots, right? Maybe use that hit when you know, the space is open, but maybe you're not gonna have that fast lightning arm swing. That's gonna beat the block every time. And then you gotta kind of adjust that game. But I think it feeling it and working with it rather than completely fighting it, like this, isn't what I do. I know what I normally do. I gotta get back to that. And then you have this internal, you know, feeling, you know, it's like a jump serve, right? Some people have great jump serves, but some days they're just not on. So they have to make a decision. Do I keep ripping it into the net or out of bounds? Whatever. Or do I manage this? Do maybe I go to my float serve. Maybe I go to the short de you know, it's like in basketball, if you're a shooter, you, you know, and you're in a slump, you kind of keep shooting out of that slump. Right?
Mark Burik (00:17:39):
It's that, that seems to me like two different answers where like, you know, you'd say like keep shooting Kobe, like know that eventually you're gonna make it right.
Dain Blanton (00:17:47):
I mean, if you're a shooter, you know, that's what you do. But I'm talking when you're dealing with your whole game, right. Your whole game. If my shot's dead off, I'm gonna start driving to the hoop a little more. You know what I mean? It doesn't mean that I completely put the shot away. It means that, Hey, I'm aware that I'm a little off and maybe I could turn up the dial on some other stuff that maybe I don't normally do until you know it after this match or after this tournament, I go back to try to make, get to a situation where that doesn't happen again. Right. You never wanna show up and you don't have your whole toolbox. I think you gotta feel it. You have to listen to your body. You gotta feel it because there's enough conflicts out there. Right. You're trying to win something.
And the people on the other side are trying to get that same prize. So recognize where you're at, recognize what you have that day. Of course, you want to use your best tools, but if something's not working, you can, you know, you can go down swinging, you know, it's like say I'm a great hitter. And I play 90% of the teams and I'm just beating them the, the blocks late. And then I get to the finals and I'm playing, you know, Andrew mole, right. Or like a Phil. And it's just like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. They're blocking you off the court. You know, I've seen guys like, who are the Netherlands team? Uh, Brower. Is it mm-hmm
Mark Burik (00:19:12):
You said Brower.
Dain Blanton (00:19:13):
Yeah. I used to accommodate a lot of the international game and this guy's a hitter. He's gonna hit, he's gonna win hitting. He's gonna lose hitting. And that's an attitude. But like, sometimes I'm like, I would go to him in between because I'm friends with him. And I would say like, why don't you just shoot some balls? You know, just shoot a few. I mean, he was like 95% hit and he would just keep on swinging. So can you fault that? No, but he would've probably won a lot more matches. I think cuz beat you can't be one dimensional. I mean, we don't know anybody. Right. Who fully shoots all the time unless you're old and that's all you can do. Yeah. Yeah. But um, someone at the top of their game has a power shot. They have fines shots and they have to go back and forth. If they do one thing, it's eventually gonna catch up to 'em.
Mark Burik (00:20:00):
So you don't think there's space for somebody to be a full hitter or a full shooter? I don't think there's a space for a full shooter. I do think that in the game there's space for full hitters and then just smart decisions when you just don't have that set.
Dain Blanton (00:20:14):
You're saying just to bring it all the time.
Mark Burik (00:20:16):
Dain Blanton (00:20:17):
Yeah. I mean like Eric and I, we in transition, we would swing almost every time unless I saw a complete open shot. Like we were gonna make you, I think the biggest thing is players don't get is you need to make the opposition, earn their points. Right? If we didn't and Eric and I didn't care, like if you blocked us good for you, if you dug us and converted well, good for you, but we're not giving you anything less than that. Mm we're gonna make you score. We're not gonna hit the ball out of bounds. We're gonna try, especially on a transition play. We're gonna bring it. So in the transition game, I always like to swing. I love to score. Wow. Yeah. I love because most people don't because in transition you've just usually made another play. You've made a dig. You've ran down a shot.
The body's telling you not to turn it up even another, not if you watch a majority of people, when they dig a ball or transition, it's usually a shot, you know? Right. Unless everything's perfect. So if you change that paradigm and just train yourself to hit when your body's saying no, right. When your body's saying, oh, you just made a hu great dig and now you're gonna finesse it. I think it puts you in a certain situation. The next type of coach might, might have a different thought. But to answer your question, I don't think, well, like Brower, for instance, on the Netherlands, he's had a great career. So I wouldn't say he is unsuccessful because he hits all the time. I'm just saying, I think he would have won more with more of an array of shots, like being aware when he's playing the, the moles and the, the doll housers and the, the Jake Gibbs or the Allisons, you know, like where this huge block up, you gotta be.
I love it though. I mean, I love when someone brings it every time, but I think to be really successful. I mean, you know, look at Phil, he bears the ball. Sometimes. Sometimes he shoots it. I always like to see the array, but I don't think the any player is better doing one thing. I think if you have, you need that combination of offense to reach your full potential. I think you can still be successful, win some tournaments and be great. But could you be a little bit better if you were smarter? Sure. Uh, at times, so I don't know if that the, that I'll, uh, that all
Mark Burik (00:22:40):
Yeah. You know, cuz we were talking to Russell Brock from LSU and we talked about what's the goal of transition offense and it's very opposite. I'd say it's so what you say like goal of transition offense is to then not necessarily get a kill, but return the difficulty until you find a position. So instead of going and you know, swinging on a very difficult set or going for low percentage swings hard when you're not in an ideal situation, errors are more likely to happen for me specifically, when I worked with Jordan Chang, from USA volleyball, we looked at my transition game and my transition numbers were miserable compared to my first ball side out numbers. Mm-hmm and I had to make a change there. I had to stop getting blocked and stop making, hitting errors in those very difficult situations. That was like a 15 to 20% jump in my hitting percentage right there mm-hmm so it's fun to see different mentalities on it where your said, just bring it, bring it, bring it. But in the same breath also saying, Hey, you still need to have multiple tools.
Dain Blanton (00:23:47):
Yeah. I mean, if you see something, uh, if you see the open shot, you go for it. But like you said, you know, sometimes you get blocked. Sometimes you make hitting errors, right? Those are two totally different things. I'm not talking about reckless swinging and having the error come into play. This is you're hitting the ball. It's in the court. They're either making a play by stuffing you or they're digging you mm-hmm you know what I mean? And in a transition game, when I was playing, we wanted to make you earn that point. Like, and we were okay with it. We were okay. Like if you dropped into my angle and you stuffed that ball, like, okay, good for you, you made a play. But the worst thing is to, is to air, like to hit that ball out of bounds to, to hit that ball.
And so, I mean, I'm talking about transition where you have a pretty high percentage of positioning mm-hmm and a lot of times, if you watch athletes at any level, even when everything is on point, the ball's been dug to the right spot, the set's in the right spot. You had enough time to get there. 85% of the people are probably still shooting. You know, I'd have to do a study to break it down, but sure. Which is, you know, it's like you said, different philosophies for sure. There's different philosophies. But when Eric and I played, we weren't the biggest guys, we weren't the tallest blockers. We were were physical. Yeah. We were just physical. We were gonna beat you in the weight room and we were gonna beat you in our stamina. And the longer this match went on, the less likely it is for you to win it. But we weren't gonna completely dominate you in anything but hustle. You know what I mean? Mm-hmm and you can control that. And you know, it was a different game that we played in the last game of big court and we played in the last game of regular maybe
Mark Burik (00:25:39):
Last game. Yeah. That gold medal match was the last international match at, at big,
Dain Blanton (00:25:45):
Wow. Well the court, they had already implemented the, they were testing it. They called it the net, the let rule, which they just kind of put into play was already in play in the Olympics. And then the court size shrunk that next year to eight by eight meters, which was considerable, right. Three feet on each end line and a foot and a half on each sideline and the rally score was implemented. Yeah. So yeah, that was it. That's if you, did
Mark Burik (00:26:13):
You hate that? Did you hate that switch or did you kind of take it in stride as like, alright, yeah, they're change it. Let's rock from here
Dain Blanton (00:26:21):
At the time. It was tough. Change is always hard. Right. And you don't know if it's gonna be good or bad. I think they thought the powers that be at the international level, they thought if they shrunk the court, there would be more rallies. That was the thinking of it like less space. So, you know, it's like if you put a ping pong ball in a, you know, a smaller space, it's, it's pinging around faster. What I think happened was the, you took a lot of the shooting, more the shooting out of it, cuz people were like, I gotta get the ball down quicker because the defenders are running down all the shots. It's a
Mark Burik (00:26:59):
Shooter that like blows my mind because every, when you go on like Instagram or uh, like, uh, Lee's highlights on, on YouTube or Lees classics, all I see from those games is people bombing on big court and I'm like, you guys had a football field to shoot into, you know, but everybody's just rocking balls, rocking balls. And I, I didn't understand how there became, it seemed like from like highlights, it seemed like there was more swinging when there was an open court, uh, or when there was a bigger court than there was in a smaller court. Did you agree with that or is it just the highlight selection that made it more accept?
Dain Blanton (00:27:35):
No, that's that's a good question. Well, I don't know. Uh, you know, I don't know. I think their idea was the fact that you were going to just get the ball played more in the smaller court, but I don't, I don't really know the effect. It, it had, I just know that it was easier to play defense. It was easier to receive a jump serve. You know, a lot of these players that like I remember back in the day, Brian Lewis had a crazy jumper, Adam Johnson, some of these guys just rip jump serves and, and it changed, but you know what the players adjusted. Right. You know, you still have players that are bombing jump serves and that, that are really great at it. So you always gotta tinker around with a sport to find out it, to let it evolve. You know, it's like with basketball with the three point shot, it's like at first people were like, this is lame, but now with Steph Curry, the
Mark Burik (00:28:30):
Dain Blanton (00:28:30):
Yeah. That's all kids are doing. Mm-hmm and it changes and it trickles all the way down. So I don't mind, I mean, at the time, I'm sure I was like, these rules are kind of crazy. I'm not a huge fan of rally scoring. I understand it. And why it can kind of control. But if you chart a regular game right now, and it's a 21, sometimes the scores two to one based on old score scoring. So it's hard to score 15. Wow.
Mark Burik (00:28:59):
Oh, outside, outside, outside out. So like in, in set that ends in rally scoring would still be the score two to one. Yeah. I, I just played bots down this weekend and you're playing for 45 minutes and it's like, the score is two to three and it's been 45 minutes.
Dain Blanton (00:29:18):
right. I mean, it's not, it's not common, but it could be, you know, it could be four to three mm-hmm and then you play another set and now it's 11, nine, technically, you know what I mean? Right. If you were scoring it, when people scored, when they have a serve, I hate when people say real points, cuz like that's assuming there's fake points, right? yeah. There's old school scoring when you had to serve and there's rally scoring on point per play. But you know, for the most part, the matches two outta three to, to 21 and the third to 15 end up being about the same as what old school scoring would be. But it's one of those things like it's back and forth, then you kind of start to get engaged at like 18 all as a fan.
Mark Burik (00:30:01):
Yep. I agree. You're
Dain Blanton (00:30:03):
Like, you're like,
Mark Burik (00:30:03):
Okay, that's kinda why I love king of the court right now because it's, it's like nonstop action. Right. You know, I got to play in one, but then once I got knocked out, I was watching it and I was like, this is so much fun. How much you have to constantly pay attention. Yeah.
Dain Blanton (00:30:16):
It's interesting. You know, on the AVPs now they got rid of the freeze. I thought the freeze was intriguing and it made it very interesting. Now, you know, you're down by five rally score. Most likely you're not coming back. Mm-hmm you can, but you're probably not, I would've liked to see the freeze implemented like internationally. And so you're not playing different formats, but it is kind of tricky as a spectator, you know, unless you're mm-hmm volleyball fan and you wanna make it simple, as simple as possible. Right. And I don't think some, your lay fan gets the double elimination either. So you wanna make a fan fan friendly.
Mark Burik (00:30:56):
It kind of a question that leads in or that that led into was the amount of times that I've heard you say, and in this format we play two sets to 21 with a third and deciding set to, to 15. And it's not me being mad at you. It's always me going, why do we still have to explain like the basics to, yes, we need a bigger ground base for fans. We need to like encourage more people to show up, but how much are we catering nonstop to bringing more people into the sport? Mm-hmm versus the fans who are already engaged, you know, you never hear in a football game. Mm-hmm like, and by the way, there are four quarters today and it's 15 minutes per quarter, you know, like there's not a whole lot of explaining to that or ex explanation of the rules. So do you think that it's because you're at forefront of that. Yeah. And I don't know if maybe you took that upon yourself to always be explaining to the newbies what's happening or do you have producers that say, Hey man, we gotta talk about this. Make sure that you include this during the broadcast so that people aren't confused
Dain Blanton (00:32:03):
Or lost. Yeah. That's a great question. And the way you look at broadcasting, a, a volleyball event is you want to include the newbie, the newcomer, right. That has never seen it before, but you don't wanna talk down to the expert or dumb it down. So you kind of wanna walk this kind of fine line in, in the middle where the expert, if you say something like that, the expert's kind of like, of course, whatever, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm but you don't wanna annoy him, but the person that just changed the channel is like, oh, I didn't know that you, you know what I, what I mean? Yeah. Why do we do that? Why don't we do that in tennis? Or, I mean, there are times I'm watching tennis and I'm like, is this two outta three? Or is this three outta five? Cause I don't
Mark Burik (00:32:48):
Know. Right. And the tie break always needs to be explained still. And I played growing up and I'm like, wait, you start on the right side. And then you move left. Right? yeah.
Dain Blanton (00:32:57):
So, but football, like such a tradition, right? It's been going forever. It's very mainstream. You're talking anytime you're dealing with the big three MLB NBA, NFL, it's pretty much is what it is. Right. Like if you don't know, you gotta go, you know, get up to speed. Mm-hmm our sport. Although it's been around for a while, doesn't have the tradition, doesn't have the mainstream access and exposure. And so a lot of times, and you've heard it before, you're getting this huge pop during the Olympics because people have never seen it before. Oh my
Mark Burik (00:33:34):
Gosh, number one, we're always the number one sport on the Olympics. Right.
Dain Blanton (00:33:37):
But everyone's like, oh, what? You know, I, I always see it in the Olympics, but you know, because it's hard to chase because it's not consistent. You know, I could go find out when the masters is right now for 2023. I bet we could go on Google and find out right now. Right. Hmm. Could find out when the us open of golf is you could find out where the us open to tennis is what weekend when it's playing, when the first round starts, could you go do that for volleyball?
Mark Burik (00:34:05):
You can only know the major amateur tournaments , which is interesting. Like, like the same weekend, right. Has always been the Potstown PAC seaside,
Dain Blanton (00:34:17):
But let's great. Those aren't being televised on a, on a national level, the pros, the top level. Do you think you could find out a date down beaches next
Mark Burik (00:34:28):
Year? No, I mean we're in February this year and I'm just like, I can't plan our seven day camps because all of our coaches are gonna be at an AVP event. So I'm like, now we're waiting on that.
Dain Blanton (00:34:39):
Well, that's, that's my point. Right? And like the tradition and because probably, probably it was 15 years ago or they started tinkering with dates. Right? Like, remember when I talked about the Laguna open that I'd spend the night to go see cuz you know, to get it was the weekend after I got outta school every week. It was the last week in June weekend every year. Like I can tell you that right now. So I didn't, I don't need marketing. I don't need to see a billboard. I don't need to see anything. And Manhattan was the same weekend and Clearwater. And like they had, you know, the Jose Quervo triple crown Santa Cruz and these things would take place the same year every year. And then someone got cute with, oh, Manhattan's so big. Let's move the weekend and we'll put someone else there, you know? And then all of a sudden you start losing the audience in a sense. So yeah, we don't have that tradition. Right. I can't tell you the weekend except for maybe Chicago. Right? Chicago's always labor.
Mark Burik (00:35:38):
Yes. I was. I was in the back of my mind the whole time. Yeah. And
Dain Blanton (00:35:41):
The only way we know that is like over the years we've been kind of, it's just been embedded and it's stayed there and it stayed there and it stayed there. That's the only tournament I can think of. So to wrap this up, what I'm saying is the consistency has never been there. And so you're constantly getting this new audience. Who's seen it for the first time and then they're gone. I mean, how many people say, Hey Dana? Oh my God. I saw the national championships. It's cuz we were on for college volleyball. It's cuz we're on ESPN.
Mark Burik (00:36:10):
Dain Blanton (00:36:11):
Everybody turns on ESPN. Everybody does by them seeing it. Some of 'em are like still like, I don't know what was, there was five quarts going on. I don't really know what was going on, but it was cool. You know? So I think as a broadcaster, you're always getting that new person. That's just flipping the dials and then you're getting that expert as well. You know like if I just turn the channel and I hear someone say a real point. Yeah. It's silly. Right? Yeah. Whenever I'm broadcasting with someone and they say it, I try to call 'em out on it. Like what does that mean? Because right. It implies
Mark Burik (00:36:47):
Dain Blanton (00:36:48):
There's a fake point. yeah. Or
Mark Burik (00:36:50):
A point or a baby point like from side out drills or something. Yeah.
Dain Blanton (00:36:53):
And so I think you're trying to educate as a broadcaster, but you're not trying to irritate the, the veteran or you know, the expert, but that's a valid point. Why don't we talk about format when tennis is being played? Well, it's been around a hundred years and most people kind of know it and just accept it for what it is, right? Yeah.
Mark Burik (00:37:14):
Why is it? Oh, my summers like early summers, you know, early and late summer for me was always waking up to Wimbledon. My dad would turn on Wimbledon and like I would sleep on the living room and I would hear that popping up the tennis ball because he wouldn't put it loud, but just so he could hear it. And that was always beginning of summer to me. And then right before school always us open. So like two parts of summer, I knew it summer was beginning or ending because it was that popping of the tennis ball from my TV and yeah, we just kind of don't have those dates.
Dain Blanton (00:37:43):
Yeah. That consistency is everything. And I think it's hard to do. That's that's why it hasn't been done again. It's just, it's hard to get people to commit like that far out and sponsors and you know, the stability has been a bit erratic, you know, for the sport and it it's just, I, I would love everyone. I think would love to know where the venue is, know where it's gonna be on that weekend. And so you get that tradition that's when you truly can gain momentum. And you know, I, I hope that's the direction that, um, the powers to be push the sport because otherwise it's just almost this renewal know and this pop every Olympic cycle and mm-hmm, , it's so much more than that. As you said, it's such a highly rated Olympic sport. Why isn't it in the forefront on every summer, the whole summer, because the summer's a quiet time for sports.
Right? You got baseball going on, but when basketball ends mm-hmm, , there's no football and you know, it's kind of golf and tennis or here and there, but yeah, you know, we could talk about it for all day long, but consistency is huge. And, but as a TV broadcaster, I'm trying to walk that middle line. Sure. Um, and hopefully you get a new fan here and hopefully while you're getting that new fan, you're not irritating the expert too much. And there's gonna be times when the, the, the new fan doesn't really understand stuff, but you know, that's just the way, the way it is, but that's kind of the thinking behind it.
Mark Burik (00:39:15):
Yeah. So every now and then we'll release on YouTube. We do it for our online members, but we do like big video analysis of championship matches where we go really deep with our members into actual strategy tactics. Like mm-hmm, different versions of three blocks, different versions of four blocks and separating defenders and separating blockers mm-hmm and the junkies love it. They dive so into it. But when you look on YouTube, that's where we got our hardcore fans, but the views on YouTube are like 900 views because that doesn't appeal to the bigger base that doesn't quite get all the details yet. You know, there's always that huge base that doesn't dive that far into the game, but still enjoys mm-hmm watching it. And I guess that's the stuff where you have to find that line of as an announcer, as a commentator, how do I appeal to the most, to the biggest audience that's now watching on television or Amazon prime or Fox.
So that's gotta be a tough line to walk, but I, I have a kind of a quote from Sean Rosenthal. And I wonder if you'd comment on it or, or see it for yourself. Sean said that his biggest disappointment was that he hasn't left the sport better for the current young 20 year olds, better than he found it. Mm. Like better than when he came in. And he looked at that as, you know, not necessarily a failure, but something that he was sad about in leaving the sport. Do you feel that way about beach volleyball right now that it's not where it could or should be or that it's sad. And are there any thoughts that you haven't shared publicly about what you think would actually work? Because everybody on social media talks like, well, why don't they do this? Why don't they do this? And they're not behind, you know, they're not behind enemy lines, like talking to cities and trying to handle permits in New York city and, and all those logistics. So everybody's got ideas without actually stepping up and taking it. But do you think the sport's in a good place right now in a positive place? And do you think that there's something that people are definitely missing that would pop the sport in your mind?
Dain Blanton (00:41:17):
Well, first to answer, I don't think the sports where it should be or could be based on my experience. You gotta understand. I won my first event in 1997, lit $60,000 in that tournament. My first win 60,000, the purse was $350,000. So I gotta check on next Thursday for $30,000. So to look at the tour now, of course, I'm gonna tell you it's nowhere near at that time, we were thinking, okay, there's gonna be 10 years. We're gonna be playing in $500,000 events. The winner's gonna be splitting a hundred K and you know, it's just gonna go from there. So there's been so many ups and downs with the, you know, kind of what we talked about consistency and, and keeping your fan base and whatnot. So it's been a challenge and now ballets has taken over it. The AVP, you know, it, it's a new beginning.
I don't know. You know, I'm optimistic that they'll do as much as they can for the sport, but it's hard because in that quote, that's interesting by Sean Rosenthal, I always wanted to leave the sport in a better place than it was. Right. Mm-hmm , and it's hard for a player, right? As a player, it's hard to control those things. You gotta be, you, you could, you know, whether some players have more personality, some don't, but it's gotta be managed correctly. And the powers that be the owners of the tour need to always be pushing. And I think Donald son did a fantastic job, you know, pushing as much as he could, but there's
Mark Burik (00:42:57):
You think he missed anywhere? Did you think there was an obvious place? Whereas like if somebody, if, whether it was Donald or whether valleys, if they do this in your mind, would this be a better move or something that people are missing? You know, like the discussion of like, okay, paid tickets, sponsorships, where we're putting ourselves on TV. I think the schedule thing is something that I've never heard before and makes complete sense. Like, why can't we plan out tournaments a year in advance, so people know where to go and everyone can plan around that. But is there anything that has been, that people missed that you're like, man, this is how it should be. And that would fix things.
Dain Blanton (00:43:31):
Gosh, you know, there's so many different things.
Mark Burik (00:43:34):
Are you being politically nice right now? Or are you, are you genuinely thinking no,
Dain Blanton (00:43:38):
I think of, I had a thought in my mind that came in and, and went out, but because there's so many different things and it's hard to, it's easy to like second guess what's been done in a sense, but you just, you know, I don't know if the players, I think maybe you gotta care about the players, right. As a fan. Right? Like when I watch sports it's about the players, it used to be all about the teams for me now I kind of really resonate to a player or not. Right. It's like when tiger was golfing, you, most people were big tiger fans. But if you were the anti tiger fan, you liked Phil. Right? Sure. And you either, you kind of need that hero and the villain for your story, whatever, whoever that is, you know, it was fun to see like Jake and Phil Doha go at it for a while.
But you know, in my era I was watching like C Smith and Randy STK against Mike DOD and, and Tim Holin and you just have to care on that level. So I don't think it's something that the organizations have done, but players' personalities need to be showcased. I think one of the biggest things, if I'd point to one thing that the organizations could do better, whoever the owner is, it's getting local promoters and getting a vested interest in that city. So there was a time where we had that, but you can't run 16, 20 events just as from LA or wherever. Right. It's hard when you don't have locals in the market. And I don't know exactly how that looks as a business, but I mean like golf for like the Genesis open tiger owns that in Los Angeles, they spend a whole year putting that together. The Genesis LA open that's at the Riviera country club. That's organized all year, you know, for that one event. And as soon as it ends, they start focusing on the next year that of course it's a PGA event. Right, right. But it's run by a local promotion. Most Trump
Mark Burik (00:45:43):
Here in Redondo, like the beach life festival, the music festival has been promoted, nonstop across like all of my social media, the beach life festival with like the musicians and it's, that was seven, eight months out. And
Dain Blanton (00:45:56):
Because that's all they're
Mark Burik (00:45:58):
AVP ad for like,
Dain Blanton (00:46:00):
You know, they mean that that's all they're doing. So imagine if you, you know, if you were, you know, you went to Austin and you worked with a group in Austin and they're like, we're gonna get the best venue. We're gonna lock this venue down for X amount of years. We're gonna promote it here. We're we're boots on the ground. Right. Mm-hmm cause you know how it is, it's one thing to be virtual and most things can be done virtually, but you know, if you're local, you're gonna do business with a local, you know, that nuts and bolts is gonna share the infrastructure can come from the bigger overseen, like the AVP or the PGA, whatever. But the actual tournament, the local market has to be vested in it. Otherwise you're just showing up and packing up and going right until the next time around. So if I were to point to one thing, it would be involving the local markets a little bit more. So they had a vested interest in making this the best event, cuz it's hard to have a menu of 16 to 20 events and make every one of them. Great.
Mark Burik (00:47:07):
Right. Yeah. I, I think somebody was saying recently they're like when we were in Belmar Belmar, New Jersey signs, everywhere, every club was contacted every Junior's club indoor and everything was like, coaches were saying, Hey, we gotta go to that. Hey, we gotta go to that. And in my mind that should be, you know, the AVP should personally contact every club director in the tri-state area from any tournament and be like, this is when we're gonna be here. As soon as they release that date, those emails and contacts to at least the club directors should go out, you know, get the kids there. And then once you have that, then like, Hey, nonstop businesses, but the regional contact for, for businesses I think, yes, cuz I don't know, which is crazy, but I don't know the structure of the AVP personnel right now. And other than like Josh and Jeff, who's reaching out to everybody. So all these businesses and having phone calls and saying, this is where we're gonna be. Are you going to be there? Are you gonna bring your business
Dain Blanton (00:48:12):
There? That's almost proving my point. You need either someone at that high level. And I'm sure there is someone coordinating that effort, but then you need that individual effort in each market. Right. And that may exist to a certain extent just speculating right now and how we see it from the outside and the nuts and bolts and the daily activities and personnel and the whole hierarchy of the business model. I'm not sure of as you're probably not sure of, but just from the history of what I've dealt with, I know when there's local promotion, like I used to go fly into markets and deal with a local promoter. They were like, Hey, we gotta go to this bar and sign autographs. And then we go over here and that like almost kind of boots on the ground philosophy really kind of turned up the interest in the market. So there's so many different angles. I just, I can't wait to see what ballets does. You know, I think it's a fresh start. It's a huge company that's been successful for a long time. And so I hope it gets to that level. But you can imagine you asked me is a sport where I thought it would be or should be when I tell you those numbers about 1997, you know, it's probably mind boggling to you. That was
Mark Burik (00:49:32):
Dain Blanton (00:49:34):
Yeah. And you know, in those days there were a different time, but there was a lot of guys making 250 K of sponsor
Mark Burik (00:49:41):
Before, before stepping on the court. Right. Yeah.
Dain Blanton (00:49:43):
Yeah. And you know, and more than that guys, like, you know, Ken STKs was, I remember he had Hawaiian tropics. She was with Oakley. It was with Fila, you know, you name it and just making a lot of money and
Mark Burik (00:49:57):
Were guys in that era better at reaching out or were more companies just pouring themselves into beach volleyball because it was so cool. And it was like a sport where guys had their shirts off.
Dain Blanton (00:50:07):
Yeah. I think it wild more. Yeah. I think it was more like, whoa, what is this? This is pretty cool. It hadn't been bottled yet. Right. Okay. Like I told you, there was in the eighties, there was no grandstand, you know, you've probably seen some of the old pictures of Manhattan or, or Laguna. It's just people mm-hmm , you know, and you can barely see the court because it's not like it was sloped. It was flat. But it was, I think that cool factor, that cutting edge was on a higher level. Yeah. And so if in the nineties you could be like, oh my gosh, we gotta hit that demographic. And remember this is before social media as well. So a company didn't have the same metrics. Right. So you're gonna dump if things weren't counted as much either. Right. You know, let's dump a hundred thousand dollars into this. Now you can be like, oh, you put a hundred thousand dollars, you know, you're getting X amount of views or the metrics. And then you
Mark Burik (00:51:02):
Need this many views to get this many buyers. And
Dain Blanton (00:51:04):
Yeah. And it's just back in the day, you kind of more spitball it, right? Like, oh my gosh, that's our demographic. We gotta get a piece of that. Let's oh, and who's on center court every day that guy let's sign him, what do we gotta sign him for? Doesn't matter. Let's get him. Mm-hmm you know what I mean? Yep. And I think that's changed. So, you know, it's, it's a fascinating conversation, but yeah, it would be nice to get those sponsorship levels back to, to that level. And it would be nice to get the prize money at a higher level. So more people could support themselves as players. And, you know, we knew even after 2000 Eric and I cuz the tour was kind of up and down, like, Hey, we gotta play international and we gotta plan AVP. If we're gonna be pros and, and you know, make enough money. And then there was a handful of teams, right. The top two, three teams that could do that. Mm-hmm and then the other ones had to kind of figure it out. It would be, you know, it'd be so cool. You know, you watched the kind of fight that's going on with the PGA right now. We've seen that multiple times. Right. And beach volleyball at a micro level with, with none of the money. Right, right.
Mark Burik (00:52:13):
We're gonna give you a whopping $2,000 to play this tournament. And it's like,
Dain Blanton (00:52:17):
So does see these guys, like, you know, making these appearance fees and now I think it's $4 million prize money for these live events. It's going to put the PGA in check in terms of watch how many more benefits the players get. Cuz competition's always good at the end of the day. Right. Someone's pushing the envelope. The players usually win.
Mark Burik (00:52:37):
Do you think the P 1440 was good competitively for the AVP because you know, I feel like the AVP association volleyball professionals, it was a union.
Dain Blanton (00:52:45):
Mark Burik (00:52:46):
A union of players that were like, Hey, this stuff is too far out of our hands. And currently there is in my mind, no power to the players. There's no union, even though like that's what it was built on. Mm-hmm but we're not having any say, you know, we get told in meetings, right. What's happening and ask for our input, but it's not like there's control and hasn't been, so I feel like we're a lot weaker than, than guys from, from your era in terms of steering our own sport. And right now, like the power, the most powerful voices are, are not even the strongest players. They're the ones who are having the most social media influence.
Dain Blanton (00:53:22):
Right. So, I mean, let me ask, uh, answer the P 1440 question. It was interesting, right? I think that, you know, 14, forty's still going, they're still got their, and I think when they first got out there, they weren't sure what direction, you know, are they gonna be a tour? Are they gonna be health,
Mark Burik (00:53:38):
Dain Blanton (00:53:39):
Music? Yeah. Health, you know, and I think they were, that's how you started a company, you know? And, and I think Carrie and her team were trying to figure out what direction it was going in. You know, it's hard to say, was it good? Or was it bad? It's like a different level than what we're talking about. Golf golf were talking about an entire tour started and I know pre 14, 40 tried to put on a tour. And it's hard. It's hard because even at the volleyball level, people wanna see the best play. Right? Yeah. And if the best aren't all there, it can. And when it gets divisive, it's hard. But I think any organization that's promoting volleyball, that's pushing is a good thing. Right. And if you're good enough, people are gonna play on your format. That's just the way it is. Uh,
Mark Burik (00:54:23):
And it was good for a lot of players. I mean, a lot of players like got earned more prize money that year than any surrounding years or those two years than any surrounding years. Yeah. So it wasn't terrible. And it worked out for people and people were flying in international, but I think you're right. There was excitement and a lot of directions that people were looking at, like any company, like, okay, and at some point, Hey, what are we doing the best? What can we do the best? And the easiest with the most efficiency. And they dialed back down.
Dain Blanton (00:54:49):
I like, I was looking in your, uh, chat. It says, how about having a good product to watch? Where's the showmanship personalities? Why are you trying to promote an expensive traveling tour of boring, technical volleyball that no one's interested in seeing. That's
Mark Burik (00:55:04):
Interesting. I agree, because that was one of my questions that I was gonna ask you, going into that, like I have referees and sportsmanship, and I know that you're coaching for USC and you're a commentator, but you're supposed to be, you know, color commentator. So you're supposed to add some flavor, but seeing everybody get, Hey, if you stare somebody down, that's a yellow card. Uh,
Dain Blanton (00:55:26):
Like, yeah. I think it's silly. I mean, anything like that is silly. I think what the NBA's doing is silly. Like the NBA, what do you mean? They don't know? Well, they don't know what they're calling. Like, you know, they let Draymond green get away with a lot more than the next person. They, you know, two techs and you're out, it's, it used to be more fun in terms of letting things. And I think across the board sports have kind of buckled down on things a little too much that I
Mark Burik (00:55:56):
Think that you think it's too much. I think it's too much, you know, like hockey is the only people that get away with this, that like, you know, we brought fist fighting back into, into hockey, you know, in the early two thousands. Cuz it's more fun.
Dain Blanton (00:56:09):
Well that's yeah, that hockey's, let's leave hockey in its own corner. Right? Sure. it's almost like a whole nother part of the sport. The, but on regular sports, I think that we've put out the fire, right. You yell through the net and like, Hey, here's yellow. We're gonna have you do that again. You got a red cord. It's like, you haven't done anything. Like, let me be free. Let me show personality. I think we've extinguished it too much from top down. Like from the authorities, from the referees, Hey, you know, the referees can control it or, you know, for referees have too much of an ego and you say something to 'em and they're pulling the card too quick. And then eventually you're
Mark Burik (00:56:54):
1000% agree with you.
Dain Blanton (00:56:55):
Yeah. You're kind of like, I'm not gonna give this game away because I'm gonna get carded. So let me just keep it to myself. And then that just kind of dumbs down the emotions. Yeah.
Mark Burik (00:57:06):
Just when the fans are getting fired up, like see Kelly plays, stare somebody down for a second and the audience fires up for that. Yeah. And then like the re you know, throws their yellow card cuz it's too aggressive. Huh?
Dain Blanton (00:57:18):
Yeah. But it's the hard thing is they're being told that they're SA because referees, they have meetings too. You know what I mean? And above the referees or the organizations they have, you know, say of, Hey, what this, what is this gonna be like, what do we want to, and it's just, you know, things evolve and it's like the NBA 20 years ago, a lot more physical. Right? Yeah. You can take a guy out, but you know, I don't want, I don't promote that. Right. And I get that, you gotta protect players. They're making 40, 50 million a year. You can't have someone undercutting them. And, but just the little stuff, the taunting, like the taunting calls, I mean, give me a break, taunting in football or in basketball. It's like, I think that's kind of laughable, but I think it takes some personality away. I think it, it, it pulls the athlete back. So based on that question, you know, and or comment we need, I think beat VO ball needs more personalities, more animation, more fun, more intensity, more rivals because if it's, you know, there's people love rivalries and people, like I mentioned earlier, love a hero and a villain. And they like when maybe that hero and villain are not that friendly, you know? And that all means something like, just look at the, you know, the magic bird stuff back in the day and Michael Jordan and whoever he
Mark Burik (00:58:46):
Play Reggie Miller and spike Lee, just John it up, you know, at Madison square garden, that's the best.
Dain Blanton (00:58:51):
I don't think they liked each other, you know? And it was fun to see them express it. Yeah. So, you know, that's another angle that, but all these things, they can't change overnight. It's kind of
Mark Burik (00:59:05):
Dana white to, to head up the, uh, referee association for a while.
Dain Blanton (00:59:09):
Right. Right. Exactly. Exactly.
Mark Burik (00:59:12):
So we talk about that at the professional level. Are you also as the head coach of, you know, USC, are you also okay with that at the NCAA level? Or should that be curved or should professional and college sports be similar in terms of what they allow a little bit more chippiness I think is fine. Yeah. Don't let people throw hands under the net, but staring somebody down and talking between points, you're still gonna blow the whistle when the surf starts.
Dain Blanton (00:59:41):
Like I said, I'm all for it. Like, you gotta control it to a certain level, but I like giving players the freedom to express themselves to a certain point. You know, if you're using profanity or you're being personal and you know, but like yeah.
Mark Burik (00:59:56):
To the point where you can't televise it.
Dain Blanton (00:59:58):
Yeah. Sarah Pavin stare down is exciting. Yes. You know what I mean? And there's intensity, that's the cool thing about volleyball. You're on opposite sides of the net. Mm-hmm so you have a barrier in, in between. There's no contact. And so, yeah. I think even at a collegiate level, you know, you can, I don't mind it, you know, I don't go out and promote it, you know, and say, Hey, you guys get out there, get in their face or anything, but you know, if you're feeling good, if you just knock someone down on a joust and you look at 'em and they're on the ground, like that's volleyball. That's why we started playing the sports. It's kind of fun. It's chippy. So I, you know, I promote that at all levels. Yeah.
Mark Burik (01:00:42):
So would you say that sport then is, and should be a psychological battle and a physical skill battle? Or should it be to me? And this is my personal opinion and I'm sure I'll get messages about this, but like I enjoy this psychological part of it of trying to take the upper hand psychologically or feeling, or, or figuring out how you can mentally get somebody off of their technical skill. I think that's a cool part of sport and that it should be the complete battlefield. Whereas somebody be like, let your game talk for itself. Part of that game in my mind should be that psychological and social aspect of it. But do you feel a certain way towards that? Or do you think that skills should always be rated against skills and the mind the mental, the psychological and the social should not be a part of the game? I mean, you've kind of answered it in some way, but
Dain Blanton (01:01:38):
No, I, I mean to answer your question, I think it's all the above needs to be at play. You know, I think it's not just skill. It's not just, who's the better player. There's a lot of gamesmanship goes into it. And I think every little thing you do on the court is can affect your opponent. You know what I mean? Your opponent asks for the ball or something and you either toss on the ball or you ignore it.
Mark Burik (01:02:05):
I'll let two feet in front of the net. So they have to go and get it.
Dain Blanton (01:02:08):
like, you know what I mean? Or it's just fun. Sports are fun. And I think to answer your question, you always have the psychological, and I think that's how sometimes people can win. You know, they can get you so rattled or outta your game, or, Hey, I don't even wanna play this person because they're so in my face all the time, you know, and, and I don't play like that. And you know, it's gamesman
Mark Burik (01:02:34):
To life, right? Yeah.
Dain Blanton (01:02:36):
, it's fun being, putting it all in one, right. It's behavior, it's human behavior, you know, and you guys are, you're technically going for one prize. So you're always trying to get a little bit of an edge on your opponent and a psychological edge, like you mentioned, and that transcends any skill or anything. And some people are better at the psychological game and their actual game might not be that, that strong, but that's how they compensate. Right. And so, you know, and you run into like a guy like Michael Jordan, who's gonna have both, he's not only gonna crush you with a skill and his work ethic, he's gonna crush you psychologically. And like, he was known as a real trash talker and you know, Kobe as well, but maybe not to the same level, you know, who knows. Right. A lot of that stuff was not documented.
And you hear from players, right. Other players were like, oh my gosh, you know, bird told me what he was gonna do before he did it. And you're just like what the, you know? Right. And it's just, I think that's the fun part of sport. And those battles, you know, are, are a blast. And I love rivalries. I love playing in rival kind of games. I love playing the best teams. I think I played my best volleyball whenever I played against cart cry, cuz he's gonna bring it. You know? And you're like, you're playing cards. You gotta bring it. And those are the players. You want the players? That was I gonna beat carts every time. No did I think I could? Absolutely. You know what I mean? Like it's all upstairs. It's like, you might be, the next person might be like, oh, you're crazy. That's not realistic. It's like, well it's realistic for me. Like I'm not gonna get on the court unless I think I can win. I don't care. Who's over there. But you know, I played against car. I played against Phil. You know, I know what their strengths and you know, car, he's just, he's so intense. You know what I mean? And he doesn't take games off. That's how he played. Did he
Mark Burik (01:04:38):
Jab did, was he ever on Ette? Let you know, get under your skin?
Dain Blanton (01:04:42):
Not much. He was kind of a guy. He was very intense, but his play was superior. You know, you look, whenever I look at those top players, they're so good because you knew in a match, they were only gonna give you so many opportunities. And as those players got better, like you're playing a cart. You're like playing cart and Kent. You're like, oh, I got two or three times that I'm gonna be able to score. And that's it. Wow. And if you don't score on those two or three times where, oh, there's the high line shot that you knew it was coming and you laid it out and dug it, it, you don't, don't convert. It's over. Like if you don't convert on those few points, that's it. Cuz the rest are game too solid. Right? The first tournament that I got into, I'll tell you a quick story.
Me and canyon semen played in the mid nineties 90. I think it was winter of 90 going into like the 96 season car. And Ken played up at state beach every day. Their practice partners didn't show up. So we stepped in and they're like, okay, you can be like practice dummies. Right. We just played a match or game. I remember it was, we got like 11 points, right. It was like 15, 11. We were like on top of the world. Right. This is like my second year of playing mm-hmm and so we train, they said, Hey, you know what? When we come up here every week, we'll train with you guys. And so Shannon and I were so stoked. Right.
Mark Burik (01:06:03):
Just by being near the court at the right time.
Dain Blanton (01:06:05):
Yeah. We were training and yeah. Doing something up there and, and they're part, their other team didn't show. So people that
Mark Burik (01:06:12):
All the time I'm like just hang out near the courts you wanna be on and there'll be an opportunity at some point. Yeah. Okay, good. Go ahead.
Dain Blanton (01:06:19):
Yeah. And so every week that off season going or pre-season going into the season, we played 'em. So first tournament of the year is Fort Fort Myers, Florida. We used to do four Florida events in a row and we're killing it. We get to the final, we get to the final. And of course, who do we end up playing? We play Kar and Ken in the final. We're smashing them, serving them off the court bombing NACES canyon has this bomb of serve. We're up 13 to eight. Okay. It's a game to 15, right? This is the old school scoring you gotta serve.
Mark Burik (01:06:54):
Yeah. They're starting to typical team would start to let go at this point, they'd be like, oh man,
Dain Blanton (01:06:59):
We're we're bombing. But you know, we cuz we played him and we know we had to be aggressive. So anyways, long story short, they go on to side out 28 consecutive times they beat us 16 to 14 and we're furious, but happy at the same time. Right? First final play card, you know, whatever. So excited. Get home. Wait for cuz Ken, you used to call me on Monday or Tuesday. Monday comes and goes, no phone call Tuesday, no phone call. Never heard from him again. new practice dummies. Right? So it was just, it was, I always tell that story, that right place, right time. Get in with the right people. You know, if you're the best player on your court, go find another court because you wanna be playing with better players is gonna pull your game up. But my point being is that you gave these guys an inch and they were like machines. You know, they weren't gonna give up. They had already given up their allotted quota, right at 13, eight. And then to go on to just fricking side out like wasn't 28 could say that's crazy and we're bombing servers. But eventually you're like, all right, right. That's not working. And they chip away. But that was a cool story. It took me another year till I got our first win in 97. But that was pre 96. That was prior to them winning the gold. I think they won the gold that summer.
Mark Burik (01:08:29):
So they owe it to you in your practice session space. Ah,
Dain Blanton (01:08:34):
But yeah, it's some of the great players just don't give you free points. Mm. You know, they're gonna make one or two errors here and there. If you're not ready to capitalize on it. Good luck.
Mark Burik (01:08:44):
Sure. Dan, I really wanna be respectful of your time. I do have just like three more questions. I think you should be quick hitters. But number one, I always tell people a similar lesson, like show up to courts when you don't have the people or you don't know how to get on better courts or players won't play with you because you're at a certain level. I get messages all the time. How do I find players to practice with players, to play with people? Won't let me play at a certain level. Mm-hmm what advice would you give to those players that are trying to upgrade their courts? The people they play against and trying to upgrade their level? Yeah. At the same time,
Dain Blanton (01:09:21):
It's hard. Like what you said, be around like, I don't know what the protocols are now and when people practice, but I'm sure it's similar to it used to be. People have to understand back in the day, used to go down the beach. There was a feature court kind of on every beach, like a court won and you would call winners and people would play all day long. Right. Those courts would get very exclusive. Like the locals wouldn't allow a lot of people to get in, but then it kind of changed. Carting can kind of changed the game. They started bringing down 20 balls each. So you'd have four players bringing 20 balls down to the beach and they'd have 80 balls and they'd do reps and they'd do reps and they'd play for two and a half hours and go home. It used to be like, you'd go to the beach early.
You'd play winners, you know, get up, you'd lose. You'd be back on the list to play again. And pros would be at the beach all day long. Right. You gotta understand. Remember back in the nineties, you'd go to the beach. You didn't have a phone for someone to reach you. Right. So you'd hang out at the beach undisturbed. You'd be more present. You would be down there. It wasn't like, oh, Hey, we're having a pool party over here. Or you know, or we're going over there. It's just like, you'd go to the beach. You'd hang out all day. You were really cool. If you had an answering machine that you could call like from a payphone or something and you'd preview your messages. Okay. So you'd go to the beach and that's what you would do. But then Carin can't change the pro approach to training, like go down the beach from eight 30 to 11.
Mark Burik (01:10:49):
You attribute that to them to two and a half hour practice sessions. Then it's now like the standard. Yes.
Dain Blanton (01:10:55):
Mark Burik (01:10:56):
Randy always like talks smack on all of us saying like, you guys don't know how to train. We used to be out there all day.
Dain Blanton (01:11:01):
Well, yeah. Cause Randy and he's absolutely right. And you got battle tested too. Right? And you'd be at play all day and you play a ton of games. Then cards kind of brought in the, no, you wrap it more. Right. That's probably what they did in endure. So we used to play game with car and Ken all the time, everyone would do 30. Like you would do 30 balls serving and your partner blocking. Right. And the other part like, so I would serve you and your partner 30 balls, then you would serve me and my partner 30 balls. Then my partner would now serve you guys 30 balls. Like, and you try, remember you we'd always try to get to about 24, which was about 80%. Okay. But that's a lot of reps. And I mean, you'd literally almost have a hundred balls at the beach. That would be a common thing when you'd see those guys and they would get it done two and a half hours, leave, go work out, do whatever you do. And, but the hangout always kind of changed in the process of what people are doing now. Yeah. I would definitely attribute that to car can, the way that kind of turned,
Mark Burik (01:12:05):
How does that player upgrade their game or get into a better player group?
Dain Blanton (01:12:09):
Yeah, no. Yeah. You gotta get beach clicky. Right? People that move here from that aren't from California that are good. Players sometimes have difficulty getting games because you've seen the groups that won't let other people in just because it's cliquey, you know, like you surf at the wrong, you
Mark Burik (01:12:27):
Don't know them. Yeah. You don't wanna waste your time and like see somebody shank a ball all day. Yeah.
Dain Blanton (01:12:31):
Well, but even I'm saying, even if they're good groups, won't let 'em play. Right. You know what I'm talking about? Where it's cliquey, it's like going to surf at the wrong spot. It's like, you're not getting any waves. I don't care if you're freaking, you know, the best guy out here, if you're Kelly Slater, like till you kind of get initiated in or we let you kind in
Mark Burik (01:12:50):
Or desperately need that fourth.
Dain Blanton (01:12:53):
Yeah. Yeah. And then you kinda, and like you said, if you're hanging out at the right time, but you just kind of gotta be in the environment play and eventually people let you in. And from that point you want to get on a court where the players are better than you and kind of keep working your way up. That's the way I see it. Uh,
Mark Burik (01:13:10):
But if they're not in that neighborhood, you know, I'm, I'm sure that you don't get every one of your girls from like California or from sand or something. The people who are trying to get to that next level. But won't be welcomed in the top court in Georgia. Let's just say that like Atlanta, Georgia, how does that person, what method would you give them to say, this is how you get on the top court, stay on the top court. This is what you tell the top players or where you
Dain Blanton (01:13:34):
Show up, gotta be patient. I mean, you gotta push, but be patient. Like I grew up in, I was born in Laguna beach, raised in Laguna beach. I had two older brothers that kind of went through the system. I remember locals would be like, oh, you're on court too. And I was getting pretty good at a certain point, I thought. And it's like, nah, you're not there yet. You know, like there was this hierarchy to get to a certain level and I was a local technically, you know? Yeah. But I mean, I was a teenager young kid, but it just, the way the sport is kind of, you kind of have thick skin too. And just be like, and get, if you get the system, if you come and you're all sensitive and you're like, like, Hey, I got all this game and I'm just gonna jump on the top chord and play.
You know, you probably are gonna run into some interesting situations, but just be patient. I think the best thing is to train with pros, like to be like, if I were young coming up and I was like kind of a beach rat, I would be at the beach and be like, Hey, can I help you guys train? Because no matter how good you are, there's always that in between time, it's just like, oh, you want to go in? You wanna do a round and now you just did 10 passing reps and whatever. And you're just kind of working your way through the system. But I don't know if that makes sense. That's how I would approach it.
Mark Burik (01:14:48):
Yeah. I like that. You know, be around the courts and ask, but when they say no, that's not your infinite. No. Right. That's your no, for that moment, for that minute, for that half hour yeah. Uh, and then throw it in there again. Yeah.
Dain Blanton (01:15:01):
It's, you know, you just gotta, like I said, just keep coming and keep working on that game and someone's gonna eventually, like you said, someone's not gonna show up one day cuz we know how that works. And when I do clinic and coaching nowadays, I always tell everybody get three or four new numbers because it's just the way the sport is. You got a tournament tomorrow morning and you get the call at seven at night, Hey, you know, I'm sick or I can't play and you better have a list of players. Like, you know, you can pick up the phone, give it a shot, but
Mark Burik (01:15:32):
Weird how those social things of like just getting numbers, connect with people, like ask them for a phone number, their Facebook, their Instagram, whatever it is. And then just get that. So you can make that social connection. Well maybe pave the way to a better playing situation. Competitive situation.
Dain Blanton (01:15:48):
Yeah. It's fun talking about volleyball and the kinda nuances behind the scenes, but let's just hope it keeps growing. And I think you mentioned something early on about me doing the volunteer coaching thing. You know, a lot of people are like, oh, did you have a plan of being a head coach? And you know, and I really didn't at the time I was on a caller who was the former head coach, we'd known each other 20 years. She was coaching Jenny Johnson and Annette Davis in the 2000 Olympics. When I went through the 2000 games with Eric Moana. Oh
Mark Burik (01:16:21):
She didn't know Anna was their coach at that time.
Dain Blanton (01:16:22):
Yeah. And so she, oh wow. She called me and she's like, Hey, there's this college thing you should get in. And so I came and I met Sarah Hughes and Kelly clays and Allie Wheeler and, and all these players, this was 2015. They were in their sophomore year and they were so focused. And I said, this is something I could do. I didn't wanna deal with just half ass kind of players. I didn't know what to expect. And they were so professional. And so on point I was like, let me give this a shot. We ended up going 28, no, that year winning the BCA championship. And then they just even got more fired up because 2016 was gonna be the first NCAA collegiate championship. So we won that as well, the first one, and then they were like, we gotta repeat. And so we ended up winning three consecutive years, 15, 16, 17, 18 was when UCLA won in 19, I went and actually did the broadcast for the national championship. So I kind of moved on and then on a Callier step down in the summer of 2019 and the job was open and I got lucky and got the position and know there was a ton of applicants and, but I think it did help having those four years.
Mark Burik (01:17:32):
But you were hanging out around the court. , you know, you like, you volunteered your time and then now you're the hell of the premier. And
Dain Blanton (01:17:39):
A lot of people say like, how did you volunteer? Like kind of like you were saying, like, and you
Mark Burik (01:17:43):
Gotta busy, so successful. And you're just like, yeah, I'll take out three hours a day to drive down, come
Dain Blanton (01:17:49):
By. It's fun though. And there was, you know, it's kind of like follow what your passion is and cool. And have, you know, I was enjoying it. It wasn't like it was work even though I wasn't getting paid for it. I was having fun trying to give lessons to the next person and pass down any type of tip or trick or something, you know, and make the youth better. Kind of like what you're doing with the coaching. It's just fun to see that success. Yeah. But I was very fortunate, you know, to get the job. And then, you know, you set your standards. This my standards always been very high. And the first year I was here was COVID so we didn't have a year. So like you said, the first active year put together a really amazing team. I think the team that we had was the best team that's been assembled in collegiate beach volleyball.
We just had the depth, the athletes, the culture, and they were just laser focused. And after winning the first year, they were like, we gotta repeat this thing and win the second year. And it was an awesome run and you know, college sports, it's constant turnover cuz they're freshman and you blink an eye and they're seniors, but the standards are high at SC. The program was in great hands and Anna had gotten it to a certain point. So I was just like, I gotta live up to this. And so we worked extremely hard to pull off what we did and I got a great assistant coach or assistant coaches. Oh yeah. Just to have a Hoja from Brazil and Laurel Weaver was our other assistant coach and the three of us, I think, complimented each other really well. And like I said, we had some fantastic players that were hungry, really hungry, and I love the pro um, the collegiate format, the best out of five. Do
Mark Burik (01:19:25):
Do you in, in cities or countries that I think it
Dain Blanton (01:19:28):
Could work, think
Mark Burik (01:19:29):
Dain Blanton (01:19:30):
I think it could work. I think there's room for some sort of hybrid more format because honestly I think double elimination, straight bracket gets really old. It's cool. And all, but the five team format where the fifth team is just as important as the first team, that'd
Mark Burik (01:19:45):
Be fun to see internationally. That would be really fun to see internationally.
Dain Blanton (01:19:48):
It's intense at least to have some specialty events. Yeah. Kinda like that. But I do. I think the format that women's college beach volleyball has right now is the most fascinating and exciting. It's so fun to see the energy go from one court all the way to another court. And everybody runs over there
Mark Burik (01:20:06):
Soon as it's over.
Dain Blanton (01:20:07):
Yeah. The national championship should come out to Huntington in 2025. I think. So finally, it'll be the first time out of Gulf shores. Who's done a tremendous job putting it on for all these years. You know, when it was an, a VCA championship now almost split seven years into national, the NCAA championship. And it's fun to go to Gulf shores. If you haven't been there's this bar called the hangout that hosts the tournament right in front of, uh, facility in it's a cool spots. It's a lot of fun, but uh, it'll be interesting to see when it starts to move around.
Mark Burik (01:20:40):
Well, okay. I've got one last final question for you and I've kept it, uh, to 23 minutes beyond your time that you allowed me. You've lived as been around, interviewed, talked with champions. Mm-hmm, absolute champions of the sport. You are one you've coached them. You've interviewed them. You've played against them. Is there something that you see in their eyes when you meet them? When you see the move, when you see them play that differentiates those people, the championship caliber people, what is it in their game that makes them different? Is it their person, their skillset, stats, their personality. How do you define that champion and how do you see them and separate them from the rest?
Dain Blanton (01:21:23):
At what level are you talking like a collegiate level of any level
Mark Burik (01:21:26):
Let's go AVP.
Dain Blanton (01:21:28):
Usually someone who's coachable is important. And when I say that it's someone who's receptive to new instruction. Someone who doesn't think that they have it all figured out, I've seen some of the best players, like, like a Sarah Hughes who is extremely coachable, right? Like even though she was top of her class, maybe arguably the best player to play collegiate volleyball, she always wanted to learn. And like Tina G also was, is the same way she, Hey, how do I do this? Okay. She go do it. She come back. Do I do it correctly? So that sense of, I wanna learn more. I wanna absorb more. And I think if we all take that approach as coaches, like, like I could coach for a hundred years, I still would have a bunch to learn. Right. You still, you, you wanna have that open mind and then you always want to have that kind of gratitude about you that, Hey, you know, I'm appreciative that this tour exists, that I have the ability to make this money, that I can walk and function and be an athlete. Like if you start coming from that, I guess, place of humility and gratitude and openness to learn, even if you have like the swag or the confidence, there's still kind of that you see that underlying, like, Hey, you know, I'm still learning stuff. And when you see that kind of demeanor, it's almost like a demeanor that someone carries themselves with. You can kind of tell, Hey,
Mark Burik (01:22:57):
Demeanor or the what's that, or the, the learning demeanor, the open to coaching demeanor is that the demeanor you're talking
Dain Blanton (01:23:04):
About. Yeah. Open to coaching that humility through the gratitude, kind of that appreciation that they have the tools that's when you kind of truly see greatness and the intensity when they get on the court, you know, that intensity is, everybody shows it a little differently, but there's different characteristics that players have. But you'll see it a lot off the court too. Like the work ethic, if you're around someone off the court, like, do they show up on time? Do they lift? Do they lift because they wanna get stronger? Is it a job or are they actually enjoying it? You know, that passion as well. So, you know, to sum it up the humility, the gratitude, the coachability, the passion to play, you know, if you get players that like are sitting around and they're like, what are we doing? Let's go play mm-hmm those are the players you want, right. Not, oh gosh, should I go to practice? Right. Go practice. You know what I mean? Like, oh, here we go again, practice rather than like, oh, what am I gonna learn today? Yeah. I'm gonna learn something today. I'm gonna get a little bit better today, but not everybody has that. Sure.
Mark Burik (01:24:10):
Is there a way to put that in to somebody or is it just something that they have
Dain Blanton (01:24:15):
Passion? I don't know, maybe at a very young age, but it's like, I have a four and a half year old now and I don't want to steer him anyway. You know, I want to introduce him as much as I can. And I think the passion's gonna come by him figuring out what he loves to do rather than where dad thinks he should be. Mm-hmm , you know, and I think that's where a lot of people air like, oh, this he's gonna be as great as I was. And even better in this sport. Like if they go that way good for, you know, that's great. But at the same time, it's like, you know, the passion, I think kind of comes from experiences. Some people like hate athletics, right? They're like, I'm not athletic. I don't touch a ball. Then they might have had a bad experience. You know, they might have had, the parent was like, you know, catch a damn ball or something.
Mark Burik (01:25:07):
Gym class is miserable because of one or two kids or, you know, and that shuts you off permanently.
Dain Blanton (01:25:12):
Yeah. Yeah. So I think it happens young. So you say, can you build it? I think you can repair it if it's been damaged. Like, but sometimes, you know, I think as we get older, it gets a little harder to create that. But I think you can change. Like if someone thinks, oh, this is a bad experience I had. And I don't like doing that sport to, oh my gosh. I've just found this coach. That gets me. That really is, he understands me. This is fun now, you know, but I think as we get older that it's harder to do. Yeah. You know, but sometimes
Mark Burik (01:25:45):
You look less, you know, or you're less open to it. So yeah. That's interesting that you think that a coach can reignite or ignite something, be just because you enjoy being there in that moment because of that person. And I think that's in a lot of situations, endeavors, hobbies, workplaces, whatever.
Dain Blanton (01:26:01):
Yeah. And I think as coaches we have that have responsibility to create an environment that is engaging. So it doesn't have to always be fun, but you want, 'em engaged. Yeah. Always engaged if they're engaged and they're open eyed and trying to work on something, I think it's when the message or the instruction isn't engaging. And so, you know, it's like having it being in class when you were a kid, it's that teacher that was just talking like this all day long. You're just like, what am I doing here? Right. Form
Mark Burik (01:26:35):
Law. Yeah. I remember that class,
Dain Blanton (01:26:37):
The next year, you're in a similar class, but the teacher's on fire and keeping everybody engaged and you're like, oh, this is cool. Like, it's all I
Mark Burik (01:26:45):
Got. Thanks Dan, appreciate the talk. Appreciate the time. Is there anything that you've got going on currently that you want people to follow, pay attention, to support any nonprofits, any place that people should follow you to keep track of things or your team or your companies or endeavors?
Dain Blanton (01:27:01):
Yeah, no, you know, I'm easy to get ahold of I'm on the, the social media PLA platforms, just as Dane Blanton, easy to, to reach all of our stuff with, uh, USC is at USC athletics, just, you know, click on beach volleyball, then you'll find everything about our team. And we also have clinics, uh, called Trojan beach that we like to do. And we're putting that schedule together right now.
Mark Burik (01:27:25):
Are those for just juniors? Uh, juniors and adults? What,
Dain Blanton (01:27:28):
Uh, yeah, that's usually, uh, junior high and high school kids. Okay. Uh, and we do that at our facility here. We have three courts right on campus, which is really cool. And yeah, it's fun. Getting ready to start to do the summer season of broadcasting for the AVP. And like you said, it's been so many years that I've been a part of the broadcast team, which is, I'm so appreciative of, and it's been, it's a blast cuz you know, you stay connected and keep your finger on the pulse of, of what's going on out there. And it's, it's fascinating to watch, but our women's side is in a good place because of the collegiate beach system. Mm-hmm , I mean, you're getting training at a much younger age trained correctly and then they're going out to be pros. And so it's fun to watch some of the players that have gone through our program that are out there now representing and
Mark Burik (01:28:18):
So many ready for the pro-life immediately. Yeah. Like on point no adjustment period or anything.
Dain Blanton (01:28:24):
Yeah. And so that's it, you know, and to chat and talk about volleyball and always open to learn new things. And I'm real happy that uh, was able to spend some time,
Mark Burik (01:28:34):
Man. I appreciate it so much. Thank you for the talk. Absolutely awesome guys. Reach out. Go ahead. Follow Dan Blanton. He said get on him in social media and see what he is up to. And for sure you guys will be seeing him on NBC ESPN, national championships everywhere you can't be in beach volleyball and not find the spin. So good. Getting to talk to you, man. I thank you so much for
Dain Blanton (01:28:57):
Coming off. Awesome. Thanks mark. Appreciate it.
Mark Burik (01:28:59):
All right. You have a good afternoon. I'll wrap it up, but if you wanna hang up and your thing, you're all set. Okay. Sounds good. Cool. Have a good one. Cool guys. That was cool. I like he's a voice. Dan Blaton is a voice that you get to hear constantly. You know, he kind of represents the sound of summer for so many of us who are watching on TV or watching on different programs and is a champion himself. He's had the championship conversations. He's had he's coaching, current champions, world champions and national and, and NCAA champions. So it's just really cool to see somebody who's doing it all in the sport and has done it all. I think that was just such a pleasure and I'm grateful that we've had here live the largest audience that we've ever had. So thank you guys for watching a few announcements from me, from us.
Our camps for the fall are live for booking. So we have two camps right now live. I think early bird pricing is still available for our second camp, which is in November in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our first camp sold 49 spots in two days. So we have 11 spots left for the first camp, which is October 30th. And if you're not on our email list or you're not there, remember that we just do a tiered system just to show our support for the people who support us. So our player members from our complete player program where we coach players twice a week and we give them all of our courses and we guide them step by step through mastering the game. Those people, they get the first notice because we know how much of our stuff sells out now, which is wild. Thank you so much.
Most people get first crack at it. And then we send it to our email list members. They get the next crack. And then finally our release it to social media and our website given that our October 30th camp last year was the hardest one to fill this year is sold out all but 11 spots within a few days, I know that our Christmas camp, the December 26th and our new year's camp, January 1st, those are going to sell out super fast. I know right away. And we have a limited space at that resort and we only have a few and we keep a really low, uh, coach player ratio. So we make sure that everybody gets great coaching. If you're not on our email list or you're not on our member program, uh, you're not a complete player program. Then you might wanna consider doing that as we release it, cuz we're releasing a new camp date every week.
Then we do that tier system. So if you wanna come to camp, hang out with us, hang out with a bunch of AEP players and amazing coaches and meet new people. Hang out with volleyball players from around the country and around the world and literally get friends for life. That's what's been really cool to see that after meeting new, real, real adult friends at these awesome active sporty vacations people then get to go and travel to other states, other cities and meet up with new volleyball players or volleyball players that they met at our camps. And then they get to either stay at their houses. We have a number of campers who have stayed at other campers houses in different cities and stayed here. One of our campers actually stayed at my place here in Redondo beach in California. And so you really truly at these camps make friends for life.
So invite you to those, go to better at beach.com/camps. If you ever wanna book us for a clinic in your hometown or you know, a facility, if there's a bar with three courts or a true beach volleyball facility, we just need a minimum of 12 people committed for the full day because we go hard core on our clinics. It is seven and a half hours of training, nine hours total span. And we bring excellent coaches. It's not like a two or three hour thing. It is an intensive course and it's physical and it's fun. So that's at better beach.com/clinics. You, we want one of those. Our complete player program is firing right now. Absolutely firing. We have a ton of members in there. Currently everyone on our team is working on offense. This one is side out and win tournaments, the offensive masterclass. So we are working on everything from footwork, spacing, vision, decision, making strategy, the mental game, as well as arm swing mechanics and jump mechanics.
And we are slowly moving into our ultimate defender program. So as we move through the summer piece by piece, we go through each step of the game and it's not just recorded courses. You can always sign up for just a recorded course and not get our coaching. And you'll get a ton of great information on strategy and everything like that. So our recorded courses are the most packed piece of content that you can get. But if you wanna sign up for our membership, then you also get access to our private Facebook group where you can post videos, your videos and ask your questions at any time. And within 24 hours you get eight coaching on it. So if you want us to look at your swinging, you want us to look at your passing. You want us to look at your setting. You just take the videos that we tell you to post them on that group.
And then we coach you and we show you how to do it right, or how to do it better really invite you over to that. And you can find out all about that at betteratbeach.com. This was such a pleasure. I really wanna thank you guys. I know I send a big email out to everybody, but I really appreciate being able to create something where I can support other volleyball players, where we're giving people jobs. We're employing coaches and assistant and social media people who are doing just such tremendous work for us. And we're creating events that make people's lives happier, better or enjoyable. We get physical active vacations, which is my style, my flavor. I don't go on vacation day around. I go to play, compete and meet new people who are like-minded. So if you're that type of person, come on to our camps invite you. It's going to be awesome going out all week and as always thank you. And if you have any questions, reach out by social media email, support it [email protected] So shoot us a message through a DM or an email and to hear from you. Thank you guys so much. This is Mark Burke, signing off guys get better and I'll see you on the sand.