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2018-02-08 17:56:00 CEST

Thriller! Casey on #FTLMajor chance

Casey Patterson on a new teammate, family life and Fort Lauderdale

Casey Patterson was, of all places, outside Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch when his phone buzzed in his pocket.

A notification. He was tagged in a Twitter post.

This one:

Beach Volleyball Major Series on Twitter

Oh, and @caseypatt might like to take a look at the men's list! 👀 Plus, there's a few surprises in there too. Check it out! #FTLMajor 💛

“What a place to find out I had a wildcard for the Fort Lauderdale Major!” laughed Patterson, who with new partner Stafford Slick, was afforded a pass to the main draw at our first five-star tournament of the season later this month.

“I was with my family on a trip, people around us writing messages to Michael, looking for inspiration – then I find out this news. The timing couldn’t have been better.”

Patterson and Slick joined forces in the close season following both players’ decisions to end their previous partnerships. Casey went his separate ways with Theo Brunner, while Stafford parted with Billy Allen.

The new duo opened open up with a 17th place finish in their debut tournament in the indoor beach event in The Hague last month. “It didn’t feel like a true beach volleyball tournament – I wished for some sun and wind!” jokes Patterson.

Their route into the Fort Lauderdale main draw took Casey by surprise. The team had already entered themselves into the three-star tournament in Kish Island, Iran, which takes place in the week leading up to the USD 600,000 spectacular in South Florida.

“We signed up for Iran as an insurance policy – it’s a chance for ranking points,” continues the 37-year-old American. “Plus, and this is something I learned from playing with Jake Gibb, you’ve got to try and play as many tournaments as you can. In your career you want to be able to leave a legacy and winning tournaments is the best way to do that.”

Casey (left) celebrates during the Hamburg World Tour Finals last seasonCasey (left) celebrates during the Hamburg World Tour Finals last season

Playing in Kish Island and in Fort Lauderdale will mean, however, that Patterson will be once again away from his wife Lexi and his four children, who regularly star in the defender’s social media posts.

“It’s a perspective thing because on the outside people just see us train and compete but it’s entirely different when you’re at home, it’s difficult to focus on the volleyball sometimes,” Casey explains.

“Events are like a vacation: you get to eat nice meals, you practise every day and all you’re thinking about is beach volleyball. At home, you have the responsibility to look after your children, plus I’m also coaching and commuting to Hermosa Beach to train every day. On top of all of that, you have to keep yourself healthy.

“When I compete it’s so much easier and, as I’m getting older, I’m appreciating the chance to compete and play. You’ve just got to try and keep winning!”

And winning is exactly what Patterson will try to attempt with a second new partner in the space of 12 months – this time with Slick.

“It’s a huge gamble – we’ve never played together before and we’re at the point where we’re still new and trying to find that chemistry and team bond that everyone looks for a in a teammate,” says Casey.

“For me, with Theo the love wasn’t there; it wasn’t us, we had to find that fire and focus – but with Stafford I feel we’re on the same page a bit more. We’re both energizers and entertainers. He has the same intensity and competitive streak as me and he loves to play. For me, it’s like playing with a brother.

“Now the hard work starts and go out there and get results.”

Patterson and Slick line-up in Fort Lauderdale in under three weeks. Check out the rest of the teams heading to Florida for the first Major Series stop of the season.

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