8 Things You Didn’t Know About Ed Ratledge


1. I want each human I encounter or influence to move closer to their best self.


2. I like to think that my passion for this game is like charcoal. 


In a broad and long-term way, passion helps folks toward that Number 1 thing you just read, becoming your best self. But then the devil’s advocate in me starts thinking of those few times I found myself screaming at a referee, perhaps acting outside of my best self. I will say – those moments are pure passion. And isn’t passion a part of one’s best self? So part of that is good, but the way it manifests maybe not so much. Certainly, me pouring gasoline on my fiery passion in that moment of screaming at a ref isn’t ideal. But a charcoal-hot passion that lasts for the long term usually takes a little splash of something to get it going. Competition, intensity, fire.


 3. I love beach volleyball for much more than the simple game it is.  


During the 20-or-so years I’ve been coaching, I’ve had hundreds of players with varying degrees of athletic and social ability come through my programming and become regulars on the beach. These are people who love this healthy outdoor hobby and lifestyle. People who don’t bang their joints up pounding pavement for miles and miles. People who talk, socialize, empathize, and find human connection with their peers while nurturing their bodies doing one of humankind’s healthiest activities. I have watched it build and maintain healthy bodies. I’ve watched it build (even the most socially inept) people’s interpersonal skills. I’ve lived it- Beach volleyball has helped me become a better, more full person. For nearly a quarter-century, I’ve dedicated my life to the game – playing at the highest level, teaching players of every ability level, and nurturing the next generation of talent. Which brings me to… 


4. I relish my role as an elder in this community. 


As a father. As someone people trust. I love my family and my children. I want the best for them. I feel my God-given mission is to look out for my family, which includes all humankind. I also seek to promote beach volleyball as a way for people to live their best lives and be their best selves. 

5. I think I’m special.


Narcissism and duty – I think everybody on Tour feels a bit of that. You kind of need it to justify why it’s you out there on Stadium Court and not any one of the thousands watching. The challenge is to avoid the nasty stuff that goes with thinking you’re special. I continually have to remind myself that rules still apply to me (though I occasionally bend them). 

Part of what makes me special is the gifts that I have been given. I live in the most prosperous part of the most prosperous country in the history of mankind. I was born to a loving family with enough means to support me. And I have a ridiculously long 6’8″ body that I didn’t do anything to deserve. What a gift! But to those who much is given, much is expected. I can only hope any good I do counterbalances the enormous gift of being born into this time and place and body.


6. I believe empathy and feeling are at the core of every human connection.  


If you don’t know the definition of visceral, here it is: relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect. Visceral feeling something means feeling it all the way to your gut, to the internal organs of your body. There was a long period of my life where I did not feel things viscerally. I think as a child that I did, but I’m certain that for much of my adult life – sadness, joy, and all of the myriad of human emotions touched me only minorly and in a basically intellectual way. This is not a state of affairs that helps a human connect with other humans. Humans feel. “I feel, therefore I am” might be more valid than the original argument (“I think, therefore I am”). The base of empathy – of feeling of others – is the hard and fast belief that there’s another consciousness in the body of that person you’re interacting with. It’s a lot easier to dehumanize someone when you don’t feel the things they do.


7. There’s a darkness in me that I work to shine light on. 


It has taken some work – some deep work – but I am proud to say that I’ve grown in ways that help me relate in more than just a superficial and intellectual way with others. I think there are lots of others like me. I would encourage every one of them to grow emotionally because the human experience is only full when you feel, too. The people around you need it and deserve someone in your shoes that experiences the world in the same way that they do. Therapists can improve your quality of life and the lives of your loved ones. When in doubt whether seeing a professional would be good for you, I recommend spending the time and money – it’s worth it.


8. I reject transactionalism. 


During that period of my life when I did not feel viscerally, my relationships tended to be transactional. Ew. Glad I grew. There’s so much more joy on this side of it. 

Category: Athlete Stories, From Our Beach, Fun, Lifestyle

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