40 under 40 — Travis Mewhirter

Phi Epsilon, 2012 — Recognized in: 2020

“Of all the many things that I write, the most difficult is not a feature on an elusive subject, or a recap of a frenetic event, or a novel or non-fiction book. It is a bio on myself.

It isn’t difficult to do this because of anything grand I have accomplished in life, but because my current state of living – a professional beach volleyball player who also writes and podcasts about beach volleyball, traveling around the world to do so – makes little sense, even to me. Especially to me.

When I enrolled to the University of Maryland, I did so with the intention of becoming a sports writer. It had been a passion of mine since I was young, the genesis story beginning in fifth grade, when I wrote an essay for English on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer I hit in a tournament the preceding weekend. Nowhere in my wildest designs did I imagine where I’d be currently: Writing this on my patio in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

I was raised in a farmtown in Maryland, about as far from the densely-populated beach town just west of Los Angeles one could get. Volleyball, let alone beach volleyball, was an afterthought to afterthoughts. We didn’t have beaches; we had farms. We didn’t have boys’ volleyball; gyms were used for basketball. I grew up playing virtually everything but volleyball: basketball, soccer, baseball, track, tennis, swim.

I stumbled on the sport when my distaste for the cold drove me south, to the Panhandle of Florida, where I had accepted a preps gig with the Northwest Florida Daily News.

My first assignment was to cover a beach volleyball tournament named Fuds, an eponym of its main sponsor, Fudpuckers.

Some find this to be coincidence. Luck. I point to God, doing that mysterious thing he does.

Either way, that changed, potentially forever, the course of my life. The sport’s tendrils took hold of me, to the point that it was what I did, seven days a week. If I wasn’t writing about it, I was talking about it. If I wasn’t watching it, I was playing.

I moved, on little more than a wing and a prayer, to Southern California, the Mecca for the sport. Over the next four years, the sport would take me to dozens of cities in the United States. It would take me to breathtaking mountains in Austria and Italy, beaches fit for postcards in Curacao, Bonaire, La Paz, Martinique, Rarotonga. It would allow me to see a new way of life in China, and explore my faith in Israel. It’s allowed me to represent the United States, winning four international medals in the process.

It’s blessed me with a life I didn’t know was possible.

I now write full-time on beach volleyball, and my podcast, named SANDCAST: Beach volleyball with Tri Bourne, with my buddy, Tri, a soon-to-be Olympian, is the top-ranked podcast in volleyball. I’ve had one book, We Were Kings, published on the sport and another in the final phase of publication.

None of this, of course, makes sense to me, nor to any of the people I grew up with. I had no idea this was an option, nor do I have any idea what life has in store next. I’ll just continue writing, playing, podcasting, and where the path will go, I have no idea, and that’s ok with me.

It’s all more than ok with me.”

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