Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria, March 19, 2019 – One of four players teaming up to represent the United States in the men’s tournament at the first two stops on the inaugural FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour, Travis Mewhirter is looking forward to the events in Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria from March 28-31 and Plan de Corones / Kronplatz, Italy from April 4-7. A newcomer to the sport, he will play alongside Eric Zaun, Chris Vaughan and Chase Frishman and you can follow their progress on Sandcast
, a beach volleyball podcast Travis co-hosts with Tri Bourne, and on Facebook
.Quick links:Snow volleyballRules of the Game 2018-2020NewsAboutSnow Volleyball World Tour on cev.eusnowvolleyball.com
Why did you decide to give snow volleyball a try?
Travis Mewhirter: This was definitely more of a ‘Why wouldn’t I give snow volleyball a try?’ type deal. I was presented the opportunity to compete in a new professional sport, in two countries I’ve never been to, representing the country I love, with a group of friends I’m stoked to spend two weeks with. I think I’d have been crazy not to give snow volleyball a try. How was the team for the events in Austria and Italy selected?
Travis Mewhirter: Eric Zaun spearheaded our haphazard squad of road dogs. Eric and I are roommates – I use that term loosely; we’ve been living together for four months and have been in the same house maybe a week total – and I’ve been good friends with Chase Frishman for a bit. Chris Vaughan is a long-time friend of Zaun, so when Zaun went about assembling the team, it made perfect sense not only from a volleyball standpoint – Zaun and I are both 6-foot-5 (1m95), so I presume we’ll be blocking; Chase is a wizard defender and Chris is a good tweener that could play both, which seems a valuable element in a sport with three people – but from a friendship and overall morale standpoint, too. I’m definitely a believer that a team’s success can be multiplied exponentially by personality fit, and we have that for sure. What do you think of taking on the altitude, snow and weather of the Alps and how are you preparing?
Travis Mewhirter: I went skiing in Mammoth (California) in jeans and a t-shirt earlier this year, so I’m going to count that as cold-weather training. I also grew up just north of Baltimore, so I’ve been around snow my whole life, though if my dad sees this interview, he’ll be the first to mention that, 28 years later, I have yet to pick up a shovel.
As for specifically training for snow volleyball? YouTube, at the moment, has been an excellent resource, as has the weight room. Gotta add the bulking season winter coat to stay warm out there. What do you think is the difference in skills required to play snow volleyball and beach volleyball?
Travis Mewhirter: Well, seeing as I’ve never actually played snow just yet, I’m going to find out here soon enough. As for what I think would be the difference, probably footwork for the most part. I can’t imagine big, loping steps would be the most efficient manner of moving. A lot of it will be mental more than physical, too. If you have the right mindset and just embrace the fact that you’re going to be cold, you’re not going to be able to move all that well, and you’re probably going to feel uncoordinated, and you allow yourself to have fun with all of that, then you’re going to be a better player.
Do you see snow volleyball catching on in the United States?
Travis Mewhirter: In certain parts, for sure. I think it could become a seasonal thing at places like Mammoth and Big Bear, which have sweet little mountain towns. Set up a court or two at the base of the mountain, let people watch from the bars as they take a break from skiing and snowboarding, and just make it a part of the mountain, off-season experience for beach players then heck yeah, I’m in. The beach volleyball crowd is big into skiing and snowboarding, so we’re all after the same type of fun, lifestyle elements. Ski one day, snow volley another, hang out in the mountains on day three? Sounds like a good way to spend a beach off-season to me. You recently released your book We Were Kings about professional beach volleyball. Do you see yourself writing one about snow volleyball sometime in the future?
Travis Mewhirter: I have somehow hacked the universe into allowing me to make a living writing about awesome sports only a select few others care to write about. So if snow volleyball becomes an Olympic sport, and there is not a sudden emergence of a platoon of snow volleyball writers, then absolutely, I’ll establish myself as the No. 1 source of snow volleyball news, complete with a Snow Kings book. You are also the host of Sandcast, the beach volleyball podcast. Will there be another of edition of Snowcast, like the one which followed the American women’s team’s return from Moscow recently? Can we expect more from Wagrain-Kleinarl and Kronplatz?
Travis Mewhirter: Anytime I’m on the road with Eric Zaun, you can expect me to make my best attempt to get some audio and video out of him. So absolutely, there will be at least one SNOWCAST from our adventures in Europe, hopefully two, one to include our gold medallist women as well.
Eric Zaun in action at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Las Vegas in 2018
Why is three-a-side snow volleyball a good idea?
Travis Mewhirter: I love when sports take a slightly differentiated version from each other. Beach is so great because there are only two per side, as opposed to six in indoor. It makes it a completely different sport, with a completely different skill set, and a completely different type of athlete required to excel. With three on a team, it creates a wrinkle in strategy, adds an extra layer of teamwork, puts an interesting decision-making element into it with the sub. In short, it makes it its own unique sport, rather than the same sport, differentiated only by the surface on which it’s played.