Metzger returns to his roots to give back to the community
One of the most enjoyable parts of this job is having the chance to watch local athletes grow, not just in physical stature but in maturation as the cycle of life continues to turn.
Such is the case with Stein Metzger, who has gone from winning state championships at Punahou to NCAA titles at UCLA to major success on the AVP Tour. And even though he just returned home last week to recuperate and rejuvenate after six hard months of competition, Metzger was more than happy to give back to a place that gave him his start in organized athletics.
On Wednesday, Metzger returned to the Spalding Clubhouse on Waiola Street, part of the Boys & Girls Club of Honolulu complex behind Washington Intermediate. His appearance was billed as a clinic, held in the multi-purpose gym where -- just a half-hour earlier -- youngsters were working on their tennis volleys.
But Metzger's visit was more about setting goals than setting volleyballs.
"It's telling them about the opportunities out there for young Hawaii athletes," Metzger said. "I want to impress on them that it's so hard to get into college these days, but if they fall in love with volleyball like I did, it can take you places.
"This place is where I began in organized sports, my first introduction to being on a team. What I remember was one gym, old video games and tutoring."
He's carried those early lessons for the past 24 years, establishing himself as one of the top beach players in the world. Metzger and former Punahou teammate Mike Lambert finished second on the Crocs Tour standings this season and have their eyes on a berth in next summer's Olympics in Beijing.
A gold medal would complete personal Triple Crowns for the two. Besides state titles at Punahou, Metzger won collegiate titles at UCLA (1995-96) and Lambert at Stanford (1997). Both are also Olympians, Metzger in 2004 on the beach and Lambert in 1996 and 2000 in indoor volleyball.
"I like the sound of that," Metzger said of Olympic gold. "We're going to give it our best shot. Mike and I are working really hard, but we're having a little timeout from each other right now.
"We see each other more than we see our wives during the year. We've known each other since ninth grade and now we're doing what we dreamed about doing when we were in high school."
Metzger is in constant contact with his playing partner, back in California, through text messaging. Not that he was taunting Lambert, but Metzger's recent TM of "Got waves?" was sent just before he enjoyed an hour of surfing off Waikiki.
Surfing is a luxury for the offseason, said Metzger, because it affects his arm swing negatively. He continues his strict workout routine, which includes weight training and stretching in the gym, biking and 3-4 hours of volleyball.
He also has quite a team supporting him, from wife Emily to his trainer, formerly employed by Madonna. There's also a physical therapist, massage therapist and mental coach.
Metzger's time here is part rejuvenation, part relaxation, part repair.
"Taking care of my body becomes more time-consuming each year as I get older," said Metzger, who turns 35 on Nov. 17. "We do so much traveling during the season that I only get to spend two, three months here a year.
"It's nice to be able to spend time at home, hang out with my wife."
And not forget his roots.