Monday, 11 December 2023

International Volleyball

“An idiot who plays beach volleyball? That’s good.”

"An idiot who plays beach volleyball? That's good."

HERMOSA BEACH, California — Seain Cook is an idiot.

His words.

“What’s my brand?” he wondered aloud on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “An idiot who plays beach volleyball? That’s good.”

Cook is the one who once competed in a Santa outfit — sleeves cut off, mullet glorious, mustache perfect — at the AVP Central Florida Pro Series in 2022. For almost a full year, he and Logan Webber could be easily identified.

They were the team who played in shirts snipped at the midriff with tassels dangling to their waists.

In Chicago, during a tremendous three-set battle with wunderkinds Andy Benesh and Miles Partain, Cody Caldwell over-set a transition ball out of play. Cook ran around the pole and batted the ball onto Benesh and Partain’s side of the net and had a laugh-out-loud look and brief conversation with the ref as to why that should be legal. Meanwhile, Caldwell, laying on the ground, pumped his fist in mock celebration.

They’d lose that match, but Cook had bigger things on his mind, like chasing Benesh around the court on every side switch in search of a high five, something he amped up a few months later in the semifinals of the Laguna Beach Tour Series where he’d attempt the impossible: To get Bill Kolinske to acknowledge an opponent’s existence.

“I did chase Bill around the court in Laguna, because we’re fine, it’s a show,” Cook said. “Every time he changed sides I’d go one way. I did it to Andy in Chicago, and he almost didn’t crack, but I managed to make him crack. [Mike] Placek as well. That’s a little point for me. But Bill remains solid. I’ll chase him around. That’s just part of the game.”

All of it — the antics, the humor, the garish and silly outfits, the “show,” as he calls it — bely something it seems he almost wants to keep secret: Seain Cook is one of the most talented defenders in the country. He’s currently No. 19 in the AVP rankings and ninth among defenders. In back-to-back matches at the Manhattan Beach Open, he lopped off two individuals who belong on beach volleyball’s Mount Rushmore, upsetting both Phil Dalhausser and Alison Cerutti. Only Caldwell, his own partner, beat him out for Most Improved in 2023.  

“Consistency,” he said of the difference between 2022 and 2023. “Just being able to do it again and again and again was the difference. Every so often I could do something that was pretty sweet but if I got…

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