2018-02-08 11:45:00 CET

Exclusive: Meet Superman’s new sidekick

Know what Chase Budinger’s plans on beach volleyball are – and they are big

Excited to partner up with this beach volleyball legend for 2018 and beyond. Looking forward to this next chapter! @seanrosenthal

510 Likes, 35 Comments - Chase (@budinger10) on Instagram: "Excited to partner up with this beach volleyball legend for 2018 and beyond. Looking forward to..."

When Superman calls, saying no is not an option. That’s probably what Chase Budinger thought when Sean Rosenthal invited him to be his new partner a few weeks ago. And that’s exactly why the former NBA player decided to end his basketball career to be part of the newest American beach volleyball team.

Budinger, 29, played in the NBA from 2009 to 2016, splitting his time between the Houston Rockets, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Indiana Pacers and the Phoenix Suns. He spent the 2016/2017 season playing ball in Spain, for Baskonia, and decided to make the transition to beach volleyball this year for one reason: Sean Rosenthal.

“My plan was always to play beach volleyball after I was done with basketball,” the 2.01m Budinger told us. “Being able to team up with Sean Rosenthal was a big factor in my decision to make the switch. I’m not sure it gets better for a first partner than Superman.”

“Sean and I had known each other for years and he knew that I had interest in starting a beach volleyball career. This winter he reached out and having him ask me definitely persuaded me. I know there is a lot I can learn from Rosie and I’m very much looking forward to it”.

If from Budinger’s side the option for Rosenthal is very easy to understand, the other side of the story is perhaps a little bit more intriguing. Why would Rosenthal, a two-time Olympian with 103 World Tour tournaments and 20 medals under his belt, gamble in a player coming from another sport after his partnership with Trevor Crabb was over?

The answer has a lot to do with the fact that Budinger is not exactly from another sport. A resident of Hermosa Beach, California, he was a standout volleyball player at the La Costa Canyon High School. When he went to college, Chase pursued his career in basketball, but he never left beach volleyball behind, competing in the American Wide Open in 2011, during the NBA lockout, and been constantly spotted taking part in amateur tournaments in Manhattan Beach.

“Chase is not a basketball player making a transition, he is a volleyball player that played basketball at the highest level,” Rosenthal said. “Now he is just ready to start his second profession. It was a little outside the box from my side, but I believe it’s a low risk, very high reward situation. I don’t think there will be much transition time. The more he plays the better he will get, but he is ready now.”

Still got it. Love those team wins like this. #Baskonia

488 Likes, 17 Comments - Chase (@budinger10) on Instagram: "Still got it. Love those team wins like this. #Baskonia" 

So tell us, Rosie, what can we expect from him?

“He has a very good skill set," Sean explains. “For a big guy, his hand setting is great. He moves very well and he is big and jumps well. He’s physical but also smooth. We just need some more game time and we will be getting that.”

Even though unusual, the transition from players from other sports to beach volleyball is not unprecedented. Take Budinger’s fellow American Ryan Doherty, who had a career in baseball before he moved to the sands in 2010, as an example of someone who made a successful switch.

“I don’t know Doherty personally, but it’s nice to see someone succeed in going from one sport to beach volleyball,” Budinger added.  

With Superman’s endorsement, Budinger allows himself to dream big. After only a month as a full-time beach volleyball player, he can already see himself challenging the best.

“On short term, I want to get better every day, work on little things each week and focus on getting better and better at them,” he said. “I think the toughest thing is getting my ‘beach legs’ ready to endure the grind of tournaments. In this first year there are going to be many ups and downs, but if I train hard, listen and get better every day I believe I can do well in this sport. We will be playing international tournaments and on long term my goal would be to play in the Olympics.”

“It’s in reach, believe me,” Rosenthal added.

 And if Superman says so, you’d better trust him!

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