A new season for Wong
The former Punahou star will open the AVP competition with a new partner
Some jobs are just better than others.
Scott Wong has one of the best.
Professional beach volleyball player.
The 28-year-old heads into the AVP season with a new partner -- former University of Hawaii player Hans Stolfus -- new life in his hitting shoulder (after rehabbing from labrum surgery) and a new training regimen.
Wong's office may be the beach, but the Association of Volleyball Professionals circuit is serious business. There are still 'B's' of the sport, but where in the old days it was Babes and Beer, now it's Big Bucks.
"Maybe hanging out and drinking beer is what guys did back then, but that's the old image," said Wong, a prep standout at Punahou and three-time All-American at Pepperdine. "Now guys work really hard and are as professional as any sport out there. You go in and treat it like a job.
"I love every aspect of my job. It's awesome. I have a good time doing it, but I take it seriously."
In doing so, Wong has altered his lifestyle, helped in part by Tactical Strength & Conditioning, a sports performance business based in Honolulu.
"They've been a tremendous tool in getting me healthy and keeping me on the right track to be in the best shape I can be," said Wong, who has been with TSC since December. "They've been a huge help in the offseason, not only rehabbing (shoulder), but in pre-habbing to prepare my body to go through the extreme elements, the playing in 100-degree weather four days in a row."
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Wong, center, has a new partner - Hans Stolfus, right - while brother Kevin, left, will team with Karch Kiralyi.
As with other endurance sports, beach volleyball players need a nutritional balance, a diet that will help build muscle without adding fat. Healthy, but not extreme.
Wong says he doesn't keep track of calories, but focuses on the timing of his food, knowing when to replenish the expended energy. It's helped him maintain the 210 to 215 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame.
Nutrition has become even more important for the 30-year-old Stolfus, the 2005 AVP Rookie of the Year. He's had trouble keeping weight on -- he's 6-5 and 180.
"What I eat, I expend," he said. "About four years ago, I stopped eating fast food and bad carbs. My diet is high in protein, which has been tricky since I'm lactose intolerant.
"I'm trying to make my pH (balance) more alkaline base than acid base."
While many beach tandems match smaller players (good passers) with taller players (good blockers and hitters), Wong and Stolfus are taking another approach. They're close in height and will split blocking duties.
"I think that will save on expending energy by one player," Stolfus said. "We'll both take serves, we'll both be blocking. I think in the later stages of a tournament we'll have the most energy. It's a long day out there."
There's been many a long day during the offseason training. Wong said his typical workout includes 3 to 3 1/2 hours during the morning on the beach, working on various aspects of the game, with specific drills for defense (digging and blocking) and offense (serving and hitting).
Afternoons might include a workout on the track or at the TSC gym.
The pair will see how the work pays off beginning this weekend when they compete in a tournament in the Dominican Republic. They're using it as a warm-up for the AVP season opener next week, the Cuervo Gold Crown Miami Open.
Wong's older brother Kevin will start the season in Miami, partnered with Karch Karalyi. This is the farewell tour for the 46-year-old Kiralyi, a three-time Olympic gold medalist (indoor and beach) who has earned more than $3 million on the sand.
"I can't wait," Kevin Wong, 34, said. "We've been working hard here. To win on tour, it's half skills, half conditioning. You have to have both or you can't get to the top."