My father was my role model in countless ways, and I have done my best raising my kids as a single dad to follow in his World War II veteran footsteps. Fly Fishing, backpacking, skiing, and more, my kids have also done. It may also come as no surprise that both my kids love to play volleyball - but this comes from my dad, who is pictured below, back in the 50's, playing doubles where we spent our summers in Emerald Bay, California.
So the grow the game ideas I again throw out to each of you here, is to create a Father's day tournament of your own next year. While you are at it, create a Mother's day tourney too in May, weather permitting. Why not also have an evening or weekend afternoon early in the season where your players teach their parents the game they are learning. Create a Coed league of fours where mom, dad, daughter and a friend play. This lifetime sport has so many fun ways to get kids to play WITH their parents, not just be watched by their parents....
This past weekend, the 37th Annual King of the Mountain Doubles tournament was held in Vail Colorado. I have been playing in it since the beginning, and almost a decade ago, helped add the Father Son/Father Daughter divisions that just run Sunday, as the event is always held on Father's day weekend.
Friday began with a clinic for kids of all ages, to explain the rule differences, and play several hours of doubles in advance of the Mountain Open stop of the Junior Beach Tour. Saturday was competition for both boys and girls, for over 60 teams. Lighting came in, sounding the alarms on the nearby golf courses and tennis courts, and play was halted for hours, as the rains fell - and the Girls 18 and 16 divisions, the largest playoff groups, postponed their play until the next day. The rest of the Jr Olympic Beach divisions had either finished ahead of the storms or played later that evening to finish up, as the next day was....Father Son/Daughter competition. We adjusted letting some Father's hold off on their matches with their daughters, if those daughters were finishing out their Mtn Open playoff matches.
In the event, Dads only serve dads, kids can serve anyone, and at the lower age levels, the dads work hard to spike only at the other Dad's half the court. The rules on calling lifts are loosened for the unskilled fathers, so the play continues, just as long as it is safe. When a dad has both genders, some dads are gluttons for punishment, and play in both divisions, with the pool groups just adapting so the dad can do both. The rules also allow for the younger player to play up and sub in freely, like a libero, with their other sibling(s). A girl can play in the Father Son division in the age group just as long as she is not older than the age group (boy/girl paternal twins have played), while a boy must be two years younger than the Father Daughter age division in order to play as a team of three (or more, just as long as all the kids are younger).
The event "continues" through the start of the week, as you get the hear from the father's who are so darn sore....i am a human question mark on Monday, or as Heath Hoke said last year (he is en route to Worlds with Youth team to Thailand and could not play with his daughter this time) - I got to the office door at 8 am, but could not make it upstairs to my office until noon...
I did not get to play this year, as I was tourney director for the Mtn. Open part of the Jr. Beach Tour, and we did not finish those delayed playoffs until after lunch Sunday. I have played with both my kids in the years before - winning even to the shock of my kids, but Tom Pingel played again with his daughter Jordan. These last two pictures are of Tom and also my play with a much younger son Cody - he is now 6'3" and playing next week in the 18 Open Division of the Boy's Junior Olympic in Atlanta - to close out this article and so you can see how pretty it is up there in Vail, beach or no beach. Let us know what else you are doing like this to grow the game. Please post comments below!
The following comments were made on our previous web platform and have been transferred here to maintain the historical record.
On June 27, 2009 Tom Burke wrote
John, Great article! Kudos to you for all you've done to promote beach volleyball and the juniors program over the years! Tom
On July 17, 2009 John Kessel wrote
Tom, Back at you, and to all doing the same and more to grow our sport. The culmination of everyone's work was seen on the medal stand in Beijing FIVE times....pretty historic by all of us who are working at the grassroots level
We very much welcome additional new comments, to be contributed below