As the Eagle Scout on Team USA’s beach volleyball team, Casey Patterson has built up quite a reputation.
“I am the guy who has everything when we travel. I fix the net, court and anything else needed to travel the world,” he says. “I love being that guy, and I’m so grateful to be an Eagle Scout.”
But Patterson learned more than just preparedness from his time as a Scout in Newbury Park, Calif. The Eagle Scout Olympian says he learned to work hard, help others, and live a life that balanced sports and Scouts.
Patterson — alongside teammate Jake Gibb — begins his quest for Rio Olympics gold on Saturday, Aug. 6. He’s one of at least five Eagle Scouts on Team USA, and he’s the owner of Team USA’s best haircut. When you watch Olympic volleyball on TV or online, just look for the guy with the slicked-back mohawk. That’s him.
Before he flew south for the 2016 Olympics, Patterson responded to some of my questions by email.
‘Love of the game and grit’
Patterson, 36, admits he wasn’t the most talented athlete growing up. Despite being basically built for volleyball — lean and now 6-foot-6 — he says he had to work harder than many of his teammates just to stay even.
“I earned my way to the Olympics through passion, love of the game and grit,” he says. “I would hope to be perceived as an athlete who truly loves the game and the hard work that got me there.”
So he trained. And he practiced. And he did so while continuing to attend Scout meetings and Scout outings. His favorite trip was a hike through the High Sierras.
“I had so much fun learning and growing all while spending time with my friends,” he says. “It was such a blast.”
Like most beach volleyball players, Patterson started in six-on-six indoor volleyball. In high school, he was voted the team’s most valuable player and was listed as one of Southern California’s “Players to Watch.”
With success came scholarship offers to play volleyball in college, but Patterson chose to put that on hold while he served his mission for the LDS church. He was sent to Little Rock, Ark.
After the mission, Patterson attended Utah Valley University for one semester, and that’s where he caught the eye of some scouts (lowercase S) at BYU. The university, which has won three national titles in men’s volleyball, wanted to give him a scholarship to become a Cougar.
Patterson’s skills flourished at BYU, and he played in every match during his senior season, tallying 35 aces.
After BYU, Patterson — by now married to a fellow BYU volleyball player, the 6-foot-1 Lexi Brown — played for indoor club teams in Sweden and Puerto Rico.
In 2003, Patterson took his talents to the beach and began a career on the sand. He joined the Association of Volleyball Professionals, which is the professional beach volleyball tour in the United States. And in 2013 he was named the best men’s beach volleyball player in the world.
Patterson says qualifying for the Olympics is the biggest moment of his career so far. Only two men’s teams from the United States are headed to Rio, meaning just making Team USA is an accomplishment.
“The journey of getting to the Olympics has been such a huge learning and growing opportunity for me,” he says. “So finding a way to utilize what I’ve learned and apply it to the biggest tournament of my life would be a success.”
Patterson has picked an excellent time for his career to spike. There is perhaps no more picturesque location for beach volleyball than Rio’s Copacabana beach, and Patterson plans to soak it all in.
“I am so excited,” he says. “Brazil has such a huge passion for beach volleyball that I couldn’t create a better energy or excitement for competing. It will be a very special experience.”
Digging into Scouting
For Patterson, the drive to earn a medal in Rio has firm Scouting roots.
“Scouts has given me a huge advantage in following my dreams,” he says. “All of the things a Scout represents and follows have all been an advantage.”
And like all Scouts, Patterson didn’t do it alone. His mom was his Cub Scout den leader, and his dad was an assistant Scoutmaster who helped the boys build things in his shop.
“I was able to spend so much quality time with him passing off merit badges,” Patterson says.
For his Eagle Scout service project, Patterson repainted the curbs, loading zones and parking spots at Borchard Community Park.
“It was a park I spent a lot of time playing at, so I really enjoyed helping to improve it,” he says.
It’s worth noting — and applauding — the fact that Patterson made time to be a successful athlete and a Scout. Note to all families balancing sports and Scouts: You can do both, and Casey Patterson is proof.