Many Americans became familiar with Todd Rogers during the Beijing Olympics.
But as quickly as the "professor" of beach volleyball snuck into morning conversations for winning a gold medal in Beijing, he disappeared back to California and the relative anonymity of the Association of Volleyball Professionals tour.
When Rogers returned from Beijing to his home just outside of Santa Barbara, Calif., about 150 fans welcomed him at the airport.
"It meant a lot," said Rogers, who went 6-1 with teammate Phil Dalhausser in Beijing. "It's when it first hit me that we had done something great."
Starting today, Rogers will be in Glendale with the 23 other best players on the AVP tour, competing for the Best of the Beach Title.
While the individual title would cap off a fantastic year for Rogers, who turns 35 on Tuesday, it would only garnish his recent list of achievements.
In 2006, he was the AVP's MVP. In 2007, his second season with Dalhausser, Rogers won championships on both the AVP and Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) tours, and the AVP named the duo team of the year.
Rogers has won the AVP's best defensive player award every season since 2004 and last year, the FIVB granted him the same title.
Rogers has 48 tournament wins in his career, more than any active American player.
In 2008, he went 114-9 in match play, excluding the Olympics.
Despite all those feats to choose from, Rogers has no trouble picking a favorite.
"Definitely the Olympics," he said. "No doubt about it. It's not even close."
Since Beijing, Rogers and Dalhausser have played in four AVP tournaments, winning three and placing second in the other.
"The international game is very strong," Rogers said. "Stronger than the AVP tour for sure. I don't think anyone would contest that."
For that reason, it can be tough to stay motivated once players return from large international events such as the Olympics.
"You can clearly see it with Misty (May-Traynor) and Kerri (Walsh)," said Rogers, referring to the U.S. women's gold medal team that, after winning 112 consecutive matches, lost in its first two AVP tournaments following the Olympics.
But unlike the women, Rogers said his Olympic success is a source of strength from which to draw.
"I personally was still on a high," he said.
In front of Rogers' hometown in Santa Barbara, he and Dalhausser rallied in the tour championship after being down 14-9 at match point and went on to win.
Last weekend, Rogers and Dalhausser won the AVP's final and most prestigious team tournament at Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles as well as the $200,000 in prize money.
Only four teams have won the tournament three times. For Rogers and Dalhausser, it was their third in a row.
This weekend, Rogers will be without Dalhausser in the individual competition in Glendale. But neither that nor the expected heat will deter him.
"I'm good with 100 degrees," he said. "(Generally) I'll still be outside doing yardwork and stuff."