Whatup, Internet? It’s your old pal Avatar with another exciting installment of “Wasting Your Time”…I mean, “Tuesdays with Avatar”. The AVP season is officially under way, with a successful opening event in St. Petersburg, Florida. (I call it a success because no one died of heat stroke and no tents blew away) The next domestic event for all of your favorite professional beach volleyball players will be in Milwaukee over the fourth of July, so let us use this little bit of time in between to get to know one of our newer teams better. This week on the hot seat, we have the dynamic duo of Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat.
Lauren and Brooke are both veterans of the pro beach tour, but this is their first season playing together. Already, they have a top ten finish in their only FIVB Grand Slam of the year and a finals appearance in St. Petersburg. Lauren has been a top blocker for the U.S. for years, and Brooke is the reigning “Best Defensive Player” on the AVP tour.
Avatar: Ladies, thank you both so much for joining me. Lauren, let’s start with you. Aside from being a professional beach volleyball player, you are also a lawyer. My first question is…how much trouble am I going to get in for hitting that guy with my car? Is it too late to plead insanity?
Lauren Fendrick: Not too late to plead insanity – I think once we submit your blog as evidence they will totally buy the insanity defense.
Avatar: I knew that blog would pay off somehow. Brooke, since you are four feet tall, do you have any advice to other girls who love beach volleyball but may be on the shorter side?
Brooke Sweat: Yes.
Avatar: Wow, riveting stuff, Brooke. I can tell this is going to be an amazing interview. Lauren, you are a player representative on the FIVB tour. (Thank you, by the way) What is one thing you wish volleyball fans knew about all the “behind the scenes” work that is required for the professional tours to run the way they do?
LF: All of these events require an insane amount of infrastructure and planning. Small example: we wear a brand new tournament specific jersey for every match on the FIVB. Each has our country and number on it, in our size, and it’s brought to our court and handed to us exactly 10 minutes before each match. Multiply 48 matches per day and 4 players per court – that’s 192 jerseys just for the first day of pool play! And that’s just for the jerseys!
Avatar: Brooke, as a Florida native who has traveled the world playing volleyball, is there anything special or unique about playing in the Sunshine State?
BS: We have a court at my house in Estero, and we’ve neglected to put up banners. So when my husband shanks a ball into the woods, there’s a legitimate chance a bobcat, panther or black bear will steal the ball faster than Jenny Kropp.
Avatar: Black bears? Really? Sorry BS, but I’m calling “B.S.” on that answer. (I’ve been looking forward to interviewing Brooke solely for the chance to make jokes about her initials. Immaturity is so much fun) Both ladies; do you have a nickname? Because if either of you do, I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know it. And if you don’t, then I’m definitely going to give you one.
LF: Our coach (and my husband), Andrew Fuller, calls us the Dog and Pony Show, which is generally not a term of endearment.
BS: Brookles, the Pony Express, Binky.
Avatar: Well Lauren, I’d probably call you “The Long Arm of Justice” because it kinda works since you are a lawyer and it sounds like something out of a superhero comic book. And Brooke, I’d go with “Dig Dug”. You’re cute, great at digging, and dangerous in the sand. Heck, you two even look alike.
Lauren, your husband and USC beach volleyball coach Andrew Fuller, coaches your team. (And apparently isn’t afraid of referring to his wife as “The Dog”) Are there any difficulties with having your spouse analyzing and critiquing your game?
LF: Yeah, he missed like 38 warm-up serves this tournament.
BS: I think it was more than 38.
Avatar: Well, he is only 6’10. It’s got to be tough to get the ball over a women’s net from that height. Dig Dug, you are well known as one of the least prolific Instagrammers and I’m pretty sure someone else runs your Twitter account. What is it about social media that makes you want to open up so much?
BS: Apparently, the high school kid that runs my account is off her game. You’ll have to speak to her.
Avatar: Brookles, you know I am no longer allowed to speak to or be within 200 feet of high school-aged kids. (That reminds me, Lauren… I have another legal question for you after this is over) Long Arm of Justice, you are sponsored by Spider Tech Tape. Is there any chance we will see you in a “Spiderman” style ad hanging upside down from your kinesiology tape?
LF: I’m not going to rule it out, but there is a 100% chance I’ll be wearing Spider Tech tape during my matches. It holds this old ship together, and the extra splash of neon on my body makes me appear faster than I am.
Avatar: I’ve been debating covering my entire body in camouflage tape so that I am harder to see while blocking. I want to thank the Long Arm of Justice and Binky for talking with me, and I hope that you have enjoyed getting a glimpse at one of the top new teams on tour. Be sure to check out their player bios and ask them questions on AVP.com. And I’m going to try to continue to write these articles while I am traveling to upcoming FIVB events. So, if for some reason I don’t have a “Tuesdays with Avatar” ready by next week, just assume it was because I was too busy wrestling a bear in Moscow or eating my body weight in German strudel.