By Beverly Oden
Are you really retired? If so, how are you handling it?
People still don’t believe me when I say I’m retired. I’m staying in shape, I’m training, but I am also having a lot of fun. I’ve given so many guarantees of being done that I don’t want to do it anymore because I’ve been wrong a lot. But barring someone in January calling and saying ‘Hey do you want to come play volleyball for three months for an ungodly amount of money in a very warm place,’ I would believe I’d be done.
Here’s the greatest thing, right here: I would not trade one day, one practice, one game, one trip that I did. I truly believe, you know people can say I should have done this I could’ve won that. I did it my way. People didn’t always like my way. I always have a good time. I’m as serious as I need to be. When the game starts, I’m all in. But I enjoy the hell out of what I do and where I got to go. I did it my way and I got a gold medal, I got 15 European titles, I got money to retire and I got a wife and two kids. I live on a lake in Indiana, I got everything my bucket list could ever want.
How is the body holding up?
I’m sure if we did this interview ten years from now, I’m sure I’d have a couple plastic hips and stuff, but I’ve been relatively lucky. A couple knee surgeries, but no reconstruction no ACL, just a micro-fracture, meniscus stuff. Shoot, I am 40 years old. I can still dunk a basketball, I still go play with the college kids. I’m blessed. But I am one of those lazy setters. We don’t do much.
What are you up to these days?
I’m just another retired old fart who is trying to find ways to occupy his time. Just trying to integrate myself back into my family life. I was lucky enough that they got to travel with me during my 16 years playing abroad but still not near as much as I’d like to. So now with a boy who’s 11 and a girl who is six, both in school, I really just tried to get back into Daddy mode. Taking kids to school and coaching football and baseball teams and soccer teams and also just getting back into being a full-time husband.
My wife has done an amazing job over our 15 years of marriage, 11 years with kids, kind of running the ship. Now to have someone like myself who is used to doing things their own way coming back in, I’ve tried not to ruffle feathers. To be a willing and glad participant in the raising of kids. And so we’ve kind of slowly worked out the details on that and just really enjoyed so far this summer and the beginning the school years just doing the things that I’ve kind of missed over the last 16 years.
Do you need to work? Will you work?
I don’t have to, no. We’ve been blessed. It would be silly for me to say I am never going to work again, I am only 40 years old. Now I’m busy coaching the kids, volunteering. I work with the Steuben County Literacy Coalition, who helps promote getting GEDs for people who didn’t finish high school. Getting really involved in my community for another year or two.
But I would be surprised if I’m not coaching. I won’t do it for money but I will do it for the love of sports. I’m coaching my son’s AAU basketball team this winter, I’m going to help IPFW starting January 1st. So eventually some of that, will possibly lead into some kind of full-time employment. Well, as full-time as I want to be, but some kind of employment. Because I don’t think my wife could take me being here every day with her.
Will you put down roots in Indiana for good?
Yeah, we live about an hour north of Fort Wayne. My wife’s parents live 40 minutes away, my parents live 40 minutes away. All my friends and family live around here. Sarah and I talk a bunch. We won’t be here forever. But this is where we want to raise our family. Once the kids get off to school we talk about how we had a wonderful time in Colorado Springs and how we’d like to go back there one day. The only thing I can promise you is that you won’t see me in California. It’s too much. I am a simple country bumpkin. I can’t take all the pressure of everything there is to do out there. I’m too busy sitting on my porch, fishing with my cup of coffee.
What would you like your legacy in the sport to be?
I want people to remember how I played. Not necessarily what I won or what I didn’t win or what they heard about me. I just think anybody who ever saw me play could tell how much I loved it. Sometimes it was too much yelling and screaming, sometimes it was too much joking with the crowd, sometimes it was too much celebrating. But it was glorious. It was my heaven on earth. Between those lines, putting on a show.
You know my dad always said I was an entertainer. Sometimes that got me in trouble I guess, but I always felt that if you’re going to pay $20 bucks to come watch me play volleyball, I’m going to give you everything I’ve got. From the hard plays to the diving to the jump serves to the cheesy smiles to the yelling through the net, all of it. And hopefully people felt like they got their money’s worth when they saw me play.