Column: Mira Costa setter Tread Rosenthal is a unique combination of size and athleticism

Setter Tread Rosenthal celebrates after Mira Costa High won a point during a match.
Tread Rosenthal of Mira Costa is a 6-foot-8 junior setter who was MVP of the U19 Pan American team this month.
(Craig Weston)

Looking out the top-floor window of the family home in Manhattan Beach, 6-foot-8 volleyball standout Tread Rosenthal can see the ocean. If he walks two blocks, he can touch the sand and listen to the waves.

Asked how often he thanks his parents for moving here, Rosenthal said, “I would say every day.”

He went from football-crazed Texas to volleyball-appreciative Southern California, and the rest is history. He was named most valuable player of the Pan American Games for the U19 U.S. team that won the gold medal this month.


He’s a 16-year-old junior setter at volleyball power Mira Costa High, getting ready to play his first match against none other than rival Loyola on Friday night at Loyola Marymount.

“The intensity is higher than any game I’ve ever played in and the crowd alone was crazy,” he said of watching the matches last season.

He was on the bench and couldn’t play because he had played in Texas that fall, making him ineligible for his sophomore season at Mira Costa. Now he’s ready to face off against some of his good friends, such as Sean Kelly of Loyola, his U19 teammate.

Rosenthal’s father is Mira Costa’s athletic director, Mike Rosenthal, who was an All-American offensive lineman at Notre Dame and played nine seasons in the NFL. His mother, Lindsay, played volleyball at Notre Dame. The family genes have resulted in three girls and one boy with size and athleticism. And Tread finally passed his 6-7 father in height.

“It’s pretty good, but he can still beat me up if he wants,” Tread said.

Tread Rosenthal of Mira Costa is a 6-foot-8 junior setter.
(Craig Weston)

Except none of the siblings are football players. Tread said there never was pressure to play it. At 205 pounds, he’s not exactly big enough to be a lineman like his father. He played five sports growing up and followed his two older sisters into volleyball, as did his younger sister.

At 12, first he was a libero, then an outside hitter after injuries to teammates forced him to learn other positions. That versatility has left him with unique skills for his size.

“Throughout my life, I’ve played every position except for middle,” he said. “I understand every position.”

His size alone makes it strange seeing him play the setter position, which usually is dominated by 5-10 players.

“It’s rare,” Loyola coach Michael Boehle said of Rosenthal being a 6-8 setter. “It’s a huge advantage to have someone that big and athletic. Usually those 6-8 players are in the middle or the right side as outside hitter.”

Said Mira Costa coach Avery Drost: “Tread is really unique. There’s not too many guys who are as big as he is with that soft touch. I think of him like LeBron James of the Lakers. He’s a distributor and playmaker first and has the physical tools to be insane offensively. He’s becoming so much better all the time as a blocker. He’s come a long way as a hitter and as a server.”

Committed to Hawaii, Rosenthal still is learning volleyball, and the move to Southern California helped open doors and led to better competition that can only improve his game.

His father was a high school football coach in Texas before the family decided to make the move with no certain job prospects. Then he became Mira Costa’s athletic director.

“I had a weird day, searched the internet and it was there,” Mike said. “A wing and a prayer. I was ready for something new.”

The family used to have a sand volleyball court in their backyard in Austin. Now the beach serves as their court.

There’s been much written about people moving from California to Texas. The reverse migration has left the Rosenthals very pleased.

“We went opposite and no complaints,” Tread said.