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The "Toddfather” back on the FIVB Beach Volleyball scene in Puerto Vallarta

Todd Rogers has been playing on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour since 1997 and will be making his first 2014 appearance in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, May 5, 2014 - Known as "Rogey", "T-Rog" and "The Professor", 40-year old Todd Rogers now can be called "The Toddfather" as one of the oldest beach volleyball players continues to add productive results to his resume at the start of his 17th season of FIVB competition with new partner Theodore Brunner.

"I am very optimistic that Theo and I can have a very good season," said "The Toddfather".  "We are still gelling and Theo is a very good athlete.  If my body can stay healthy and I can keep my frustration level under control, I think we are going to be a very good team."

When asked about how his physical condition, Rogers said he "feels pretty good and really has no complaints.  Just gotta be smart with the body and get lots of rest, stretch out the muscles and make sure to get deep tissue massages regularly."

Rogers will be the "most celebrated" men's player at this week's FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean where competition begins Tuesday on the Playa Camarones.  The American pair opened their 2014 season two weeks ago in the Cayman Islands where Rogers and Brunner captured the season's first NORCECA circuit event by defeating compatriots William Montgomery and Stafford Slick 21-12 and 21-18 in the finals.

It was the second-straight Cayman Islands medal for Rogers as he teamed with Ryan Doherty to capture second-place in the 2013 event where the pair fell to Puerto Rico’s Roberto Rodriguez and Eric Haddock 21-16 and 21-18.

“It’s nice to be at the top of the medal podium looking down this year after coming up short the last time around,” Rogers was quoted after the Cayman final.  “The credit to my partner though because he played fantastic.  His blocking and serving was excellent and it made my job much easier against a good team.”

The Cayman Islands gold medal marked the 79th title in Rogers' professional beach volleyball career that started after the completion of his collegiate indoor career at the University of California in Santa Barbara.  "I think this is my 19th year playing professionally," Rogers noted.  "I graduated from UCSB in June of 1996 and it was my first year playing in domestic qualifiers and open events."

When asked about his "first" beach volleyball competition, Rogers said he started "playing the summer of my 14th year (1987).  My first partner was Clay Holdren, cousin to my first professional partner, Dax Holdren.  Technically, my first pro tourney was actually in 1993 with Dax, but I did not accept any money due to my amateur status."

The Rogers/Brunner partnership is unique as "The Toddfather" recruited his new teammate when he was an assistant men’s volleyball coach at UCSB.  “For me, this is kind of coming full circle,” Rogers was quoted in a Presidio Sports article last month about teaming with a player he coached for two years at UCSB.

“Hopefully, Theo will absorb some of my experience and wisdom, “said Rogers, who won the 2007 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medals for the United States with Phil Dalhausser.  “I want to see Theo be successful now and for years to come.  He has all the physical capabilities to be in the Olympics, including youth and fantastic blocking.”

A former representative for the players on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Council and a current member of the board of directors for USA Volleyball, Rogers also answers other questions prior to the Puerto Vallarta Open where the men’s qualifier opens play Tuesday with the women’s preliminary rounds set for Wednesday on the Playa Camarones.  The men’s medal match will be Saturday with the women’s finals Sunday.

Question - With collegiate All-American credentials indoors, did you ever have the opportunity to compete internationally for the United States at volleyball?
Rogers - “I never competed for USA on any indoor squad.  After I finished playing at UCSB, I went directly to the beach.  I looked into playing overseas the next fall after graduation, but the money just wasn't that great.  Plus I got married right out of college and it didn't make sense for me to go down that road.”

Question - Who was responsible for getting you started playing beach volleyball?
Rogers - “That individual would be Jon Lee.  Jon was the varsity high school coach at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara where I went to high school.  After my first season on the freshman team, he told all of the guys to go down to the beach and play beach volleyball if they wanted to get better at indoors.  He also threw in the caveat that there were a lot of pretty girls in bikinis down at the beach.  Needless to say it got us down there and we all became hooked on the sport of beach volleyball.  Interestingly enough, I ended up meeting my wife (Melissa), down at East Beach as well.”

Question - Was there a "turning point" during your first three years on the domestic tour that you knew that you had the "right stuff" to be a successful beach volleyball player?
Rogers - “I can't say there was a "turning point". My game has always been one of consistency and that is kind of how I went up the ladder. In 1997 Dax (Holdren) and I just kept getting better and better finishes and pretty soon we ended up having one of the best rookie seasons.”

Question - What were your initial thoughts about playing internationally on the FIVB tour?
Rogers - “In 1997, the FIVB World Championships were in Los Angeles at UCLA.  The top eight domestic teams played in that event and Dax and I had a good enough season to be ranked No. 7.  So we kind of fell into that event and took a ninth after winning our first match against Canadians Jody Holden and Conrad Leineman before losing to Karch (Kiraly) and Adam Johnson. We played in an event in 1999 at Toronto, but got our rear ends kicked by Victor Anfilloff and Andrew Schacht from Australia in the qualifier. Then in 2000, we decided to go down to Rosarito Beach in Mexico for fun and ended up winning the event after going through the country quota, qualifier and the main draw.  At that point we decided to give it a go and see how we could do.

Question - Obviously, gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and at the 2007 FIVB World Championships in Gstaad have to rank as your top moments as a beach volleyball player. Can you rank your next three "major" accomplishments as a player?  If so, why these three?
Rogers - “The next three are 2006 Santa Barbara Open (I had lost four times in the finals before then and to finally win it in my home town was so nice.  All my family and friends were there and I was truly overjoyed to finally no longer be the "bridesmaid" if you will.), 2006 Manhattan Beach Open (This was my first Manhattan Beach Open win.  Everyone in the States wants to win the granddaddy of all tourneys and get their name inscribed on the Manhattan Beach Pier.), and 2006 Klagenfurt Grand Slam (Really a monumental event for Phil and I on the international scene.  Not only is Klagenfurt the greatest beach volleyball event on the planet, but we beat Ricardo and Emanuel, the best team on the planet at the time, in the finals.  It was very sweet.).”

Question - Statistically, the teams of Emanuel/Ricardo (34 FIVB wins) and Dalhausser/Rogers (23) rank as the top two teams ever to play internationally. The two teams met 11 times with the Brazilians winning seven matches. Do you consider Emanuel/Ricardo and you and Phil as the best two teams? How do to rank the top men's beach volleyball of all-time during your career?
Rogers - “I would rank Emanuel/Ricardo ahead of Phil and me. I probably would consider us the second best team of the modern era to date. Technically my career also spanned the latter part of the Kiraly/Steffes era and I would rank them ahead of both teams. I never played against Sinjin (Smith) and Randy (Stoklos) together or Dodd (Mike)/Hovland (Tim).”

Question - Obviously, the game has changed during your career.  What has been the biggest change?  Do you feel the changes have bettered the beach volleyball competition?
Rogers - “I think there have been two major changes during my career.  They both came in 2001 with the advent of rally scoring and the dimensions of the court going from 9X9 to 8X8 metres. I think rally scoring has been a good thing for the average fan. Some of the sideout scoring games took forever and in today's world where everyone has to be connected and "busy" no one has the patience to appreciate the grind it out game. I think the smaller court has hurt the game but I am an old soul. I don't like that you gotta a bunch of tall guys playing a game that very few of them ever could have played at the highest level 15 years ago. There were always a couple of bigger guys that were exceptional athletes (Mike Whitmarsh and Ricardo to name a couple) that could play the old school game but most of them didn't have the ball control. I was of average height (1.87m) and there were guys who were 1.7m that were battling on the tour. Now I am in the bottom 10% in height. I think there are less rallies rather than more. There certainly are a lot more blocks but I don't consider that to be a rally.”

Question - Is this your last year of playing or will you seek an opportunity to play for a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games?
Rogers - “I will be better able to answer that question at the end of the year when I know how Theo and I have done. So far so good but we are only one tourney into the season.”

Question - A lot of travel the past 20 years for you. What have been the highlights away from the competition? Any memorable moments for you and your family?
Rogers - “Having two kids and watching them find their way in life. Hannah is 15 and Nate is 13. I coach both my kids in multiple sports. I run and surf and of course take care of my awesome garden! I have been married for 17 years.”

Question - Any final thoughts from "The Toddfather".
Rogers - “It has been a great run and I feel very blessed. I'll see how this year goes and God willing, I will take a shot at Rio. But if not, I know I have always taken my best shot.”


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