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Mission Statement 2008


On crafting the 2008 Mission Statement

Our coach Hugh led us through the construction of a mission statement. We did a little bit of small group things. What are we setting out to do, that was the first thing. Our mission statement reads something like “We are setting out to win the Olympic Games in 2008 in Beijing,’ and to the rest of the world we had no business saying that. We had no business writing that. If the rest of the world would have seen that, they would have laughed at us. We weren’t trending, we weren’t on the rise, we weren’t the next hottest team or the team to look out for in 2005. So we made that our mission, this is what we are setting out to do.

And then we went through a process of saying , ‘That’s our goal, how are we going to get there?’ What are things we think we could be the best at? Well, we can be the best at competing, we could work the hardest, we could be students of the game, we can be great teammates; all of that language was in there, That’s what we held to, and there was a lot of values that stemmed from that mission statement.
For the complete interview click here.

Why No. 8


Why number eight?

The jersey number 8 was not something I chose, it was given to me when I made my first roster on Team USA.  It’s interesting though as it’s become part of my identity, sort of synonymous with my name. I wore #10 in High School and #14 in College.


I love number 8 for several reasons.  It is an even number.  If turned on it’s side is the infinity symbol and has a sense of overall balance to it.  I try to live “balanced” and be a balanced thinker.  I want to play balanced or in other words, in control, striving to be a good all-around player.  


Now it’s time to convince the FIVB that beach players should have personal numbers.  It’s incredibly boring for everyone to be 1 and 2.  Let’s give the statisticians and referees a little more credit, I think they can keep track of the athletes and their preferred numbers (4 at a time).
(more from this interview click link below)


GRIT: Wavering Confidence and the Power of Will


Grit is an in vogue term. Rightfully so as it is a valuable attribute. It’s defined as a “non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective,”the hard working, never say die attitude. It’s something that any successful group or team needs to have at some level.  Admittedly, what I write is anecdotal. It is known by application in the field (or on the court) vs research in a lab.  So I share my experience and believe that in doing so, there will be plenty of applicables for you but I will avoid trying to connect the dots specifically.  I’ll leave that up to you.

It might surprise you to learn that I never had a ton of self-confidence growing up.  In fact, my first two major breakthroughs as an elite volleyball player came from external influence, through prodding or encouragement received from others, not from internal fortitude.  In those moments, I thought, “if they believe it, maybe I should, too”.   I wish I could write that I dug deep and slayed the demons in my own mind that kept me timid, fearful or insecure.  But that didn’t happen. Those instances, whereby a coach, teammate or someone I respected believed in me, helped me push through and start agreeing with them.  But that could only take me so far.

At the same time, or soon thereafter, I started to notice a different internal system at work.  It was strong.  Unbridled, it would lead to weird outbursts and emotional tantrums (usually directed at referees). There was drive, a will and determination that was focused on one thing…overcoming. This force, I came to understand, was a stronger system than my self-confidence.  I might not have felt that I was in the same realm as a Giba or Grbic or Papi, but that did not stop me from trying to beat them.  


img_4386I was never on elite teams and didn’t win too much in college or early as a pro, but I never accepted defeat as if that was where I was supposed to be. I was compelled to do all I could to improve, and how I felt about myself began to fade and become irrelevant.  What mattered was what needed to be done.  How was I going to close the gap between myself or my team and our opponents?  How were we going to win the next point? The more I became aware of just how strong that internal force was, I knew that was the place I needed to be when I stepped foot on the court.  

I eventually learned how to channel that drive. As I matured (which will be another couple dozen blog entries:), the outbursts (that I am now incredibly embarrassed by) were tempered and the motivation to do whatever it took to win that next point completely dissolved any feelings of insecurity or mental waverings. In fact, it was this motivation that would form my eventual strong work ethic. It drove me.  I had work to do to win points…they were not going to be given for free.

Whenever the chatter (be it from a coach, a teammate, the press, the owner or sponsors of a team or critic) would get loud and the pressure would mount, I would find a corner of a coffee shop, pull out my journal and remind myself of what I was setting out to do, which would tap into that DRIVE.  The chatter would fade away, as I KNEW that my will to win was stronger than anything. I wanted to win more than they wanted me to perform or do whatever. The rest was insignificant.



Once I began to “live” in that place more and more, it had a great affect on my confidence. I might not vote myself player of the year but I would undoubtedly put myself in any high stakes match anywhere in the world at anytime over the best of them!  In fact, I’ll lace ‘em the up right now! I became confident that I had everything I needed for any given situation…and if I didn’t, I would figure it out.  Now, I was mentally strong. In fact, I found that the higher the stakes, the more that drive would manifest and my focus would heighten.  I did not positively “think” my way into being a stronger player or try and construct an image of myself that was strong, I simply wanted to win.   I channeled the internal drive to win and let that fuel how I operated on a day in and day out basis. How I trained, how I competed, how I lived.   I call this commitment to overcome at all costs GRIT.  


So if you are struggling with self confidence, you aren’t alone.  Maybe try to take inventory of your internal systems and see if you can find another drive to develop.  Know that IT, when fostered and paired with hard work and maturity, will overpower any internal sabotaging that might be taking place by your critical self.


Thank You Doug Beal


I, like most of you, learned from the release this week that Jamie Davis is the new CEO for USAV. I’m excited and look forward to the potential ahead and whether it’s his influence or not, love the amount of digital content USAV has been pumping out the last few weeks. For USAV to take another leap forward it needs to view itself as a media company not just an NGB. Who better to lead us in that direction than one who has started and run a successful media company already.

But with the start of a new era, it means the end of another. Doug Beal lead USAV well and I want to publicly say thank you. Doug’s impact on US Volleyball is difficult to quantify. From player to coach to CEO, he has been actively involved in the growth of volleyball for nearly a half a century! That’s a long time. And the list of personal accomplishment and organizational growth is massive.

You might not agree with Doug all the time, I certainly haven’t but he was never operating on a personal agenda. Volleyball was too important and it’s growth was too important. Thanks for remaining level headed amidst all the pulling and tugging that has gone on especially over the last couple of quads. Those issues needed room to breath as real issues were being wrestled with and needed a strong leader to hold it all together.

Thank you for the impact you have had. The opportunities to play the game have grown immensely. Thank you for backing the Men’s NT move to Anaheim which was pivotal to our establishment as a world National Team force (and eventually lead to the WNT move, and full backing by the USOC). Thank you for the 2-man serve receive!!  Thanks for being such a great ambassador for both our country and our sport worldwide.  The world of volleyball has such great respect for you and rightfully so (Beal for FIVB president)! Oh, and way to take a 2-3 million dollar operation to a 25-27 million dollar operation. Not too shabby for a “non-business volleyball guy”. ?

Image: Volleyverse: Q & A With Doug Beal

Remembering Carl


Carl McGown was a special human being. He is being celebrated today by his family and friends in Provo, Utah. I want to share a few words about him here, disappointed that I can’t be in Provo today.

Carl had a particular way of speaking. It was matter of fact. I liked that. I got to know him in 2003 when he joined the coaching super-staff leading in to the 2004 Olympic Games. The message that I heard from him that resonated the most was the concept of developing a comfort with discomfort. To embrace the feeling of discomfort and make that the new comfortable. It applied to how we trained, how we competed, how we traveled and certainly has application off the court as well.  It’s a message that I still try to embody today.

Carl will be remembered for many things. How he lived, how he related and the impact he had on volleyball and the thousands of players like me that he affected. Life is short…and the reality of that is present with me today. Time is a valuable commodity with a limited supply…Carl made a difference in this world with the time he was given.

Thank you Carl for a life well lived. Thank you to his wife, Susan and family for sharing him with the rest of us. Life is a team sport and he was special in large part because of his team, his support system, his family…he would be the first to say so. We are celebrating him today and thinking of you.

Excerpt From Max Potenial Playbook


Crazy that 2016 is over. 2014 and 2015 were solely dedicated to being ready for 2016…now it has come and gone and its a bit surreal to be on this side of it.

Its now time to set new goals and reach for new heights. What are some of your goals? Please share! Goals shared in community are much more likely to be realized. I personally want to figure out how to manage time better. Its one of our greatest commodities. There is a limited supply…unknown really. This year I want to figure out how to invest my time well and not waste it. To not let the word “busy” undermine a life lived well.

The expansion of my book is going well! It is currently at 10 chapters and it has been really fun rehashing old stories and reliving memories, both the good and the bad. I am going to share an excerpt from the first chapter and would really appreciate your honest feedback. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Are you desiring more? Use the comments section or on Facebook and let me know what you think!


Chapter 1
The Final 24 Hours

Journal 8/20/16 “…I don’t know what tomorrow holds but …I AM READY FOR ANYTHING.”

I can’t remember exactly how that final point was won (or lost) but when that ball fell and the reality that we wouldn’t reach the Gold Medal match (and that I would never again have the opportunity to play for an indoor gold medal)  an array of emotions flooded my being. Up to that point, I had figured out and embraced my role on this mission.  I came to Rio prepared to lead from the front in our quest for a Gold Medal.  Yes, I had a 2 year layoff and the team did just fine in my absence but this was the Olympic Games, this was not like any other tournament. This was different.  I was battle tested, I had war wounds and I had come out victorious on the other side.

I wasn’t asked to lead in that way though, I was asked to lead from the back. It took a while to identify and embrace that role. It was new and foreign.  But that became my marching orders.  How was I going to contribute to this mission in this supporting role?  I could see four areas that I needed to focus on.  

1. I needed to stay ready to physically play at a moment’s notice.
2. I needed to take personal ownership of the game.
3. I needed to stay mentally engaged from start to finish.  
4. I needed to find ways to make an impact whether I touch the ball or not.

By the time we reached that semi-final versus Italy, I had dialed in all 4 components.  I was ready, this was OUR fight, I was engaged for every point and I looked for ways to contribute from my spot on the court, the box.   The guys played hard and we were a sideout and a couple “reals” away from being in that final match.  But the margins at this level are small…absolutely fractional.  Ivan Zaytsev, Italy’s top gun, went back to the service line and pushed his chips all-in. Full-tilt he would either win or lose the game for Italy, all or nothing, terminal.  He won that game.  

In the 5th set, Italy seemed to get stronger, and we couldn’t match.  It was all too familiar as they knocked us out of the 2012 London Games from the medal round. That match still stings.   Sports at the highest level are decided by a point here or there. Everyone is great, so what are the differentiators?  The stakes are high and the margins are slim.  As a team, we had fought back from losing our first 2 matches of these Games.  We had shown resolve and composure beyond our collective years. But Italy was writing their own story…they had the same goal, the same dream.  

I personally was able to stay connected and ready until that final point.  But now it was over.  Stunned.  That is probably the best word to describe how I felt.  Then bitterness, anger, frustration and a whole host of emotions came with it. This team had come so far…I had come so far.  There was so much effort and sacrifice that went into my personal comeback not just from me but also from my family, especially my wife.  What did this mean?   

The next 24 hours were a struggle. I leaned on my family.  Needing to breathe some fresh air, Tommy Jeschke and I broke out of the hotel and took an uber to the NIKE headquarters across town that was on a golf course.  It was a good break and helpful to have an object to hit as we stayed on the range for a while and smashed ball after ball attempting to release our built up tension. But back at the hotel that night I was still struggling internally.  Playing in the Gold Medal game was off the table.  It was hard to accept. It was also hard to understand how to quantify the last 2 years of work to get back to this point. To be back in a USA #8 jersey, to be at an Olympic Games and now, on the eve of what I knew would be my final day.  The final day of a 24 year journey.  In no way did I want bitterness or anger to mar this final day.  But how was I to get out of this funk…where do I place these emotions?

To get a FREE digital copy when it’s released later this month of Max Potential Playbook: Reaching your Potential in Sports and in Life sign up here.

Max Potential Playbook: My First (e)Book

Over the last quarter century, I have been moving forward. Constant forward motion. What started as a passion became a gateway to the world…different cultures, different experiences and, most importantly, amazing people spanning the globe. Without an off-season in the professional indoor calendar, there was never a built-in rest period. There was no time to reflect, just constant forward motion.

Recently, though, I have been able to pause and reflect. It wasn’t intentional. Following the Olympic Games in Rio I was asked to fill in for two different friends, Matt Anderson and Casey Patterson. One occasion was a boys junior volleyball camp in North LA and the other was a speaking engagement at my home golf course in Huntington Beach. Those two outings led to other opportunities which, in turn, led to more. I connected with people on a new level and found the interaction to be very gratifying as I shared my experiences over the last 25 years.

In preparation for a 4-day intensive volleyball event in Phoenix for junior boys, girls and coaches, I put pen to paper and attempted to articulate the things I think are important when trying to get better at volleyball. That bullet list grew to several pages which then grew even more. I began to look through my 20 years of journals and incorporated some of those entries as well. The most surprising part of it all, I loved it!

I found it really enjoyable to look back and see the stories unfold and the major themes surface. Volleyball was my passion but it became so much more! It became a training ground. As I worked to master the game, the game had a way of working on me…my character, how I handle pressure and so much more. Those are the things that I carry with me today. The medals and trophies are all great but it’s the man I have become that is enduring and volleyball was my internal training ground. It helped me develop the ability to be a good learner. How to work with others. How to adapt and change. How to overcome fear. That is the real GOLD that I carry around my neck today.

I have no intention of keeping this to myself. As I have begun to share my experience publicly, both the good times and the bad, I have found great joy and I’m finding that it resonates with others’ life experiences as well. So, I am currently making a few tweaks to the mini-book that came from the event held in Phoenix a few weeks ago, and I am giving it away as a Free E-Book. If you are interested in a getting a copy, simply HERE.


Thanks to all my friends, family and fans out there.
Your support means everything.