Todd Rogers always wanted to be a professional athlete. “I was consumed with sports. I didn’t want to be a firefighter or an astronaut like a lot of little kids,” he says. “I was always a soccer player. I wanted to be a pro soccer player like Péle.”
Then at 14 he discovered volleyball. He started off on the San Marcos High School volleyball team and continued into college at UCSB. By his junior year, he was beating professional players.
This summer, the world tuned in to watch Solvang resident Todd Rogers and partner Phil Dalhausser take on the best of the best in Men’s Beach Volleyball. For Rogers, having wife Melissa by his side to witness the spectacle of the Olympics, made winning all the sweeter. “Other than winning, really, the best part of it was being able to share it with Mel,” he says. “I was really glad that she was able to make it. Having her there was very, very cool.”
Coming home with a gold medal in hand was pretty cool, too. While it was exciting to have more than 100 people greet his plane when he arrived back in Santa Barbara, the two he most wanted to see were his children, Nate and Hannah. “The kids were very excited that I had won, but they were just excited to see me,” he adds. “I was gone for more than three weeks. I was ready to be home for sure. It was a good homecoming.”
Hundreds more will be on hand to welcome Rogers and Dalhausser on Saturday, December 6. They will be the Grand Marshalls of the Solvang Christmas Parade, along with Rogers’ family. “It should be fun. Phil’s coming up for the weekend and we’ll be doing the lighting, we’ll go wine tasting and just make it a fun weekend and have a good time.
Students who want to have a good time learning to play volleyball with Rogers, will have the opportunity in December. For the fourth year in a row, Rogers will be running a volleyball camp. Call Solvang Recreation for exact dates, time and cost.
This article first appeared in the Santa Ynez Valley Guest Magazine, Fall 2008. Photos by Maria Hoke and Ken Delgado.