The BrothersBrothers Brian and Tim Bomgren are about to begin their third year of playing pro beach volleyball together around the country.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
For Brian and Tim Bomgren, volleyball is a family affair.
The Bomgrens, brothers and Woodbury High School graduates, are about to begin their third year of playing pro beach volleyball together around the country.
In volleyball circles, they are known as “the brothers” and have been competing in tournaments here in the Midwest, as well as Aspen, Colo., Los Angeles, New Orleans, Charlotte and Atlantic City.
Their playing career follows in the footsteps of their father, Wally Bomgren, a former Woodbury High School volleyball coach who now coaches the sport at New Life Academy in Woodbury.
Wally Bomgren played club volleyball for 17 years and played on the U.S. Olympic Team for one year after college, training in Dayton, Ohio. He played college volleyball at George Williams College in Chicago on two NAIA National Championship teams and was named as an All-American at NAIA Nationals as a senior.
Unlike their dad, Brian and Tim have taken their game outside, to the sand courts. However, they credit Wally for getting them started.
“We always played a little bit when we were younger, because we had a little push from our dad,” Brian said. “Like a lot of people we started playing beach volleyball in the summers with our friends. Both my brother and I played competitively indoors on teams in college and played on the beach in the summers. We’re kind of following in our dad’s footsteps a little bit.”
Brian graduated from Woodbury High School in 2002 and Tim Bomgren is a class of 2006 alumnus. At 27 and 23 years old, respectively, the brothers are still very young in their beach careers.
“In beach volleyball players’ primes are typically later than in sports like basketball or football,” Brian Bomgren said. “A player’s prime is typically in their early thirties, because experience plays a big part along with athleticism.”
Brian played volleyball for Bethel University while Tim was in high school. After graduating from Woodbury, Tim played for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. As both began to play more and play together more, they thought about taking it to the next level.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while, but it’s only really become a reality in the past year or two as we have started to play a little better and play more together,” Brian Bomgren said. “We’re realizing the more we play the more doors have started to open.”
Now, in the winter, the brothers train and workout three or four times a week and play at least three times a week. In the summer they don’t workout as much, but play quite a bit more matches. They will play in one or two local tournaments in the summer, but the rest will be around the Midwest or toward the coasts.
“Being from the Midwest instead of being from California or something like that, we don’t play as much, but we’ve had a lot of good opportunities in the last year or two to travel around the country and play in some bigger tournaments,” Brian Bomgren said.
Brian is married and lives in Eagan. He works as a systems analyst for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Tim recently graduated from Eau Claire and has a job lined up with Quantum. The brothers will begin tournament play before the end of May and will do so through the middle of September. Among their biggest tournaments this summer will be two Corona Light Wide Open tournaments — in New Jersey in June and in California in August — and the Motherlode Volleyball Tournament in in Aspen, Col., in September.
“We had some good finishes last year, but we definitely hope to improve on those,” Brian said. “We’ll have been playing together more and should do even better.”
Brian said they would love to play volleyball full time at some point, but that is not the case currently.
“Because it doesn’t get the same kind of publicity, there’s fewer guys making a living doing it,” Brian said. “The biggest barrier for guys like us from the Midwest is the cost of travel and exposure. We’ve been looking for a sponsor to help pay for travel expenses. Once you get past that hurdle and are able to continue to compete at the highest levels, that’s really when doors start to open.”
Brian Bomgren said he believes he and his brother to be among the best tandems in the Midwest, but still currently outside the best-of-the-best in the country.
“Locally and regionally, we’ve done pretty well — winning just about all the local tournaments and a fair amount of the regional tournaments we’ve played in. On the biggest stages we’ve done alright, but last year was really the first time we’ve had those opportunities. We hope to get more this year. The more experience on those bigger stages the better you are in those situations.”
The top duo in the country — and the world — is widely believed to be Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, who were the gold medalists in the 2008 Summer Olympics and who play internationally.
“We are definitely not at that level,” Brian Bomgren said. “There’s a group of maybe 50 guys underneath them, where with more exposure, we could compete against them in the biggest tournaments.”
Both Brian and Tim played a number of sports at Woodbury High School, including basketball, golf, soccer and baseball. Tim is 6’4” and Brian is 6’2”. Their style of play on the volleyball court is unique, in the sense that they are both well-rounded and can both block and kill at the net and play defense.
And, of course, their brotherly love gives them an advantage.
“I think we like the idea of a team sport,” Brian said. “But at the same time it’s a small team, so when you win or lose it’s because of you, not six or seven other guys. But we get along really well. We’re probably one of the only teams that’ll be joking around out there during the finals of a serious tournament. We have fun out there.”