Kyle Stevenson: The Road Dog Who Could
You know you’re in for a good story time when Kyle Stevenson begins one with, “somehow…”
There are no shortages of stories with Stevenson, just as there is no shortage to the hilarity, the absurdity, the outrageousness of them all.
This one is rather tame.
“Somehow,” he begins, “one of my friends and I were able to sneak into this VIP area. I got to see Rosie [Sean Rosenthal] bounce two balls over the pier in that match.”
And that is where this beach volleyball life began, in earnest, for Kyle Stevenson. The roots had already been planted. His father played on the Palisades High team with Randy Stoklos, a team that knocked off a guy named Karch Kiraly and won state. The genetics were there. And they were not, it must be noted, there for football.
It took one play for Stevenson, a Dev Program player for 1440, to rule out a football career. As a freshman in high school, he was the backup quarterback – “just the holder,” he said, laughing – and on the one play he got in, he broke his collarbone. That collarbone knocked him out for the rest of football season and also the ensuing basketball season, leaving Stevenson with option three: volleyball.
So it began.
Over the summers, Stevenson, 27, took to the beach, playing on the USA Volleyball High Performance team. He didn’t expect to make the traveling team, awarded to the top four players of the eight in the program, in 2009, when he was a junior in high school.
And yet, somehow…
He ended up in Alanya, Turkey, competing for the United States in his first FIVB with Parker Kalmbach.
“I definitely got bit by the travel bug,” he said of that tournament, where he finished 17th. “Like, wow, I get to do this, go travel places. It’s pretty awesome. Once I got picked for that team I was like ‘Might as well start getting good at this game.’”
It led to more high performance teams, more watching AVPs, more stories.
And then, somehow…
He was main draw for the majority of the 2016 NVL season, with his good friend Chris Long.
“Going to battle with Chris, that was when volleyball was the most fun because he was my best friend,” Stevenson said. “It didn’t feel like a job where you had to perform. It was just going out with your buddy and seeing if you can win together.”
That year was where the “somehow” stories become nearly endless.
“Somehow” he and Chris Vaughan and Eric Zaun wound up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Christmas caroling in July, armed with three awful voices and a surprisingly delightful talent with the harmonica, disrupting every campfire at the Waupaca Boatride with wonderfully terrible renditions of a song called “Sahara” that Zaun found fantastic.
“Somehow” he created what is now affectionately known as the Road Dog Breakfast: A 7-11 Slurpee and nerd rope.
“Somehow” couch surfing became the vogue means of sleeping, and the term “road dog” went viral.
“Just silly goose time,” he said of that season.
He isn’t all jokes, either, Stevenson. He just knows how to create memories for the boys, with the boys. If the tournament goes well, he has that as a lasting memory. If not? Why not harmonica till the wee hours of the morning with your buddies?
“I actually never thought that was why I do it but it definitely seems that every time I go to a trip or something, I’m always trying to make a memory of that trip,” he said. “Going through those experiences with my friends. That’s definitely why I do it.”
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