:: Ambassador Spotlight :: Volleyball Athlete Jeff Steffens
All around competitive go-getter, board rider, adventurer, explorer & California native. This week we catch up with a 3 time team MVP, All-American standout volleyball athlete; meet FYC & Venture Pro Ambassador Jeff Steffens in this weeks Q & A. Find out what adrenaline rush he loves so much, why he eats so many damn sandwiches and how being so short hasn't stopped him. There is much more than just picture perfect hair with this trophy junky. Read on for a great interview with Jeff. A doer and a looker.
Q & A - Jeff Steffens, Hermosa Beach, California.
1) Where are you from? Born and raised? Where is your family?
(JS) I was born and raised in a very small town of Rescue CA but I tell everyone Placerville because that is the bigger town closest to Rescue. My parents are still in Rescue, the same house I grew up in my whole life. I have a younger sister who is in a town nearby to my parents.
2) Where do you live now?
(JS) I currently live in Hermosa Beach, CA in Southern California and have been here for about a year and a half now. I love it and don't plan on moving away from the beach anytime soon. Hermosa Beach is a volleyball mecca.
3) What got you started in volleyball? Or how? When and where? You played in college? Where?
(JS) I actually was practicing a lot of golf at the time and ended not making the last cut for my HS team my sophomore year. My friend said I should come out for the volleyball team that was having tryouts the week after. He said they needed more guys. I always liked playing volleyball in PE but fell in love with it being on the team. My junior year the golf team asked me to come back and I declined so I could stick with volleyball and have been playing ever since.
I was at a local Sacramento Junior college looking to transfer to Cal Poly when I was out at a local grass tournament and was approached by Sacramento States men's team and they recruited me to play for their team so I transferred to Sacramento State where I played for their college team. My senior year we finished 9th in the Nation and I received All American Award.
I also played a year on NorCal Premier which was the pro team out of the Bay Area.
4) More about that- obviously you play volleyball competitively. What do you love most about it?
(JS) I am a very competitive person. I will turn anything into a competition and want to do well at it no matter what it is. I love the fitness of the sport yet there is still a lot of power and physical ability that goes into the game. I love the adrenaline rush I get when playing and pushing my body.
5) How long have you been playing? What are your other hobbies, interests or activities? (JS) I've been playing for 15 total years now. I have a lot of activities that I like to do. Before moving to Southern California I would mountain bike, paddle board, and hike since I lived close to so many lakes. Now living so close to the beach my core activities have changed to surfing, biking the strand, and body boarding.
I also really love taking pictures. It all started with my GoPro and have slowly built my photography tools. I have a GoPro, DSLR, and Drone with many different accessories for each to get that perfect shot.
6) What inspires you most to keep going after it?
(JS) Like I said before I am competitive and have that drive. I enjoy everything I do which is the most important thing. I also keep going at different things because people will tell me "oh I loved that picture you posted" and tell me how they enjoy seeing my posts. I will coach volleyball on the side as well and its always great to see another person enjoy your passion and be truly thankful you helped them out. Ive had a few mentors in volleyball and I try to give back to the sport I love by doing the same for others.
7) Who has been an inspiration for you? Who has been a supporter for you?
(JS) I have a few people I look up to in different things. One being Todd Rogers. USA beach volleyball Gold Medalist. He is a shorter player that uses a lot of finesse and intelligence when playing. His nickname is "The Professor." He breaks the game down a lot and isn't really the type to get up and smash a ball. Instead he will place the ball and make you work a lot harder and even make you look silly on the court trying to figure out where he is going to put the ball. I had the privilege to play with and against him in a Red Bull tournament in Sacramento and listening to him explain the game and strategy really helped a lot.
My biggest supporters are my parents. They will watch me play and be there for me as much as they can. I was lucky when I was younger and worked for my Dad, if something fun ever came up he would usually let me off work to go do whatever it was. My girlfriend Brittany has been amazing as well. She is always there to support me and willing to travel with me usually meaning just sitting and watching me play and getting me some snacks and water when I don't have time between games. We try to get an extra day or some time whenever we travel so we can go explore or do things together but sometimes it just ends up being a volleyball only trip. She is a personal trainer and also pushes me at the gym and makes sure I am eating right and stretching.
8) What do you find most challenging about the sport and why?
(JS) In the volleyball world I am short. I am barely 6' tall and am considerably undersized for the game at a higher level. For my position indoor typically the average height is around 6'5" if not taller with a high vertical. One big reason I prefer beach over indoor; Beach is an equalizer because typically those really tall indoor players now have a harder time in the sand with wind, sun, uneven surface, and having to touch the ball a lot more than they do indoor. Indoor is much more of a specialized game. You can be good at one thing and do great as a team of 6. Beach is only 2 people and there are no substitutions its either you or your partner getting the ball but you have to pass, set, and hit in the beach.
9) What has been your proudest moment or accomplishment and why?
(JS) One of my top was receiving the All-American award in college. I was the shortest player at that position, it was my senior year, and we had been working so hard for so many years to get to top 16 in the nation.
Like I mentioned before getting to play in the tournament with and against Todd Rogers was amazing.
I have won several major tournaments that have been such an amazing experience and just made me feel overall satisfied and accomplished.
10) What awards, acknowledgements or exposure have your received?
(JS) I received a lot of awards during my time at Sacramento State.
Honorable Mention All League Outside Hitter, NCCVL.
2nd Team All League Outside Hitter, NCCVL.
Two Time 1st Team All League Outside Hitter, NCCVL.
Honorable Mention All American Outside Hitter, NCVF.
Three Time Team MVP.
11) Do you prefer an indoors court, outdoors court or the beach? Why?
(JS) I prefer beach because it is more an equalizer and you have to be an all around volleyball player to do well at it. Having only 2 people on the court can really bring out players flaws. If you're a good beach player you can be a good indoor player. If you're a good indoor player doesn't mean you are good at beach. Beach takes a lot more practice and I like that.
12) What is your preferred volleyball to play with? Why?
(JS) I like the AVP 'Wilson' volleyballs most. If you ever play volleyball you know there are many different types of volleyballs. The AVP 'Wilson' is the main ball for beach tournaments I play in. I like the feel and the way the ball floats.
13) Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
(JS) I assume I will be in Southern California close to the beach still. I am still working on making an AVP main draw which is where the top USA beach guys play in. A main draw means I made the top 16.
I will be 36 at that time so I think I would either have a kid by then or one on the way. I can't wait to take my kids out and do all the activities I enjoy and experience it with them.
14) When you are not playing or practicing, where can we find you and what are you doing?
(JS) I play or practice around 4-6 times a week so its a lot. If I get some free time from work Brittany and I are usually out and about doing something. Surfing, photography, biking, or just exploring a new location.
15) What is your favorite movie and why?
(JS) I'm not the biggest movie buff. I will watch movies but really in theaters. I couldn't really pick a favorite movie. I have a lot that I like but none that I can say hands down is my favorite. I however am hooked on Game of Thrones and can watch for hours on end. I will gladly watch any episode anytime.
16) What is your favorite food?
(JS) My favorite food is anything my Dad makes. He is an amazing cook. I love sandwiches. I will eat sandwiches anytime. My top two are chicken panini or a steak sandwich with A1 sauce. Not the healthiest but they are so tasty.
17) We hear your are a big fantasy football enthusiast. Is football your favorite fantasy sport? How many leagues are you in?
(JS) I do enjoy fantasy football. I do not watch much on TV because games are so long and I would rather be out doing other things. I like watching sports center and just getting the highlights. But fantasy football makes me stay a little more up to date on whats going on in the football world. Football is my favorite fantasy sport. It is one of the easier ones since games are on a weekly basis. Last year I was in 2 but have been in up to 4 leagues. Again I really enjoy the competition and just games in general.
18) What connects you to the FYC & Venture Pro Brands?
(JS) I fell in love with Find Your Coast because to me it is all about passion. Find a passion you have and go for it. It doesn't have to be main stream and it doesn't have to be a coast even though that is in the name of the brand. It is more than just an apparel company. Its more of a community. I have made new friends because of the company and even brought some of my current friends into the company.
The clothing is great prices and great material. I like the prints and colors as well. Like I said it goes above the shirts and hats and into a community of people going out in the world and adventuring and enjoying life. I used to play a lot of video games but then I started doing more activities. I feel like with technology being so advanced so many kids just sit at home and don't get outside and enjoy nature. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the mountains and my parents would take us camping and other fun stuff. I know some kids do not have that opportunity. Its not always about he destination its about the journey. You can find beauty in all sorts of nature even local parks.
I really enjoy seeing what other FYC and Venture Pro people are doing in their life. What they are seeing and doing. Sometimes I see something that inspires me and I want to visit that same place or I try and find something similar but is closer to where I live.
You see on the news so many bad things and people being angry. Its rare that they show good things happening. Seeing people chase their passion and enjoying nature is what makes me love FYC. Everyone has their own passion and I respect that. I don't expect everyone to love volleyball and typically people don't. Volleyball is not the most mainstream sport depending on where you live. Being passionate about something I think is very healthy and really allows you to grow as a person. I hope to continue to grow in my journey and never stop adventuring. That's how I 'Find My Coast'.
Most recent tournament- July 2017. Jeff was invited to a tournament in Minnesota where his team took home 1st place.
"I hope to continue to grow in my journey and never stop adventuring." - Jeff Steffens