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SANDCAST: Remembering Eric Zaun aka Danny Fahrenheit aka Cookie Robinson

I’ve always been a fan of mythology. I loved reading the tales of Zeus and Poseidon, Hades and Hermes, Athena to those of the Norse orient, Thor and Loki and Odin. One of my favorites has always been the myth of the Phoenix, that stunning bird that never truly dies. It burns, sometimes spectacularly in in a show of flames and combustion, sometimes in a simple and subtle decomposition.

Either way, the end result is invariable: From its own ashes, it rises again.

I think that’s beautiful.

And so the beach volleyball world must do the same.

This past week we, as a whole, as a single community with a single, beating heart, have been reduced to ashes. The death of Eric Zaun has impacted the entirety of the AVP and those well beyond.

In Virginia Beach, there was a moment of silence before an AVP Next Gold Series. Folks from the snow volleyball world expressed their condolences. The FIVB, too. The Pottstown Rumble, site of one of Zaun’s most famous and epic and wonderful temper tantrums, will honor the kid who once took a red-eye after Seattle to play on zero sleep but put down no small amount of cash on a match anyway.

Everywhere you look, the beach world is rising. Individuals and organizations alike are rising in their own unique ways. Donald Sun reached out to every player on the AVP, expressing his condolences, encouraging players to reach out of there was anything the AVP can do to help its own.

To help them rise.

We at SANDCAST are doing the same. We’re replaying Zaun’s episode this week. Maybe it will help some. Maybe it won’t. The hope is that it can provide, if just for one, that first stirring amid the ashes, that maybe it can begin to lay the foundation to the first step in recovering. Not moving on, no. But moving upward. Onward.

Rising.

This is not a good thing that has happened but good will come of this. I am sure of it. I am sure of it because I’ve already seen it. I’ve seen it in such abundance in only a week that it’s a wonder, should this spirit — this Zaunian spirit of an unbridled zest for life and fun and mischief — carry on, what beautiful things might come of this.

Already, Ben Vaught and his father have made wrist bands. They’re purple and blue. Mental awareness colors. He’s got 500 of the things. Ed Ratledge is pondering how the beach community can make an award, the Eric Zaun Grinder Award. Something like that. Something to do with the van, Zaun’s hysterical but wonderful abode for a few years. He doesn’t know just yet. He doesn’t have to.

Point it: It will be something good. Something new, created from a former version of itself.

That, above all, is what I love so much about the myth of the Phoenix. It’s never created entirely new, but from the ashes of its predecessor. It never loses pieces of itself but instead uses them to grow into something brighter than what it had been in its previous life.

And so, at AVP Seattle, at Pottstown, the beach volleyball world recovers from the previous version of itself this week, and all those that will follow.

Together, we rise.

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