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The Game Will Find A Way

By John Kessel | Dec. 15, 2013, 11:48 a.m. (ET)

This blog serves to announce a new section to USA Volleyball website, The Game Will Find a Way. This page is just one of the many great offerings under the USAV Grassroots section – our request is for your submissions of photos showing you and others creating ways to play our sport of a lifetime – despite not having an official court, or even ball.

I awoke in Ft Walton Beach, FL this week, to dawnlight in this part of Florida that somehow resides in the central time zone, which means morning comes very early, 6:19a officially, even in late November (and it gets dark early too – 4:45p, as you will see in bit).  It was not however the light, but the joy of kids voices playing volleyball on the USA Beach CAP court that we set up the day before.

Phillip Bryant, the piped piper of all volleyball here in the Gulf Shores Region of USA Volleyball, is creating great events here in this part of the gulf – from hosting the junior and collegiate sand championships in the spring, to this coaching education program. Ali Lamberson and Jon Aharoni  are here to teach the Beach CAP program, Bill Neville and Don Burroughs for indoor CAP, while Phil, Sam, Dave, Dan and others are here doing a concurrent quad and doubles person tournament for the kids. I came down two days early to do clinics for kids and coaches, flying out at 6am and just getting ahead of a snowstorm back in Colorado that caused over 150 car accidents that same morning.  Day one included a three hour clinic for 35 kids in an after school program and a three hour coaches clinic. The gym had only one net, but by the time Phil and I were done, we had six youth courts set up, using nets and ribbon, so each grade got to play and practice on their own court.  When the director of Park and Rec for the city came by he said – “wow, I have never seen so many kids on task…”  

The next day was a beach training and a treasure hunt for kids. Beaches with courts always set up allow for volleyball players of any age to go play and learn when just three other friends are available. I covered this important change in gym tradition- keeping just ONE volleyball court up permanently in every gym in the world – in my blog “Can We Please Have a Net?”  Treasure hunts however require ingenuity and some shovels – as we buried balls, water bottles, shirts and more into the sand earlier during the day, leaving only ribbons sticking out of the sand. That evening, flashlights glowing in hand, some 30 kids searched the courts to find the buried treasures, after an inspiring talk from the head pirate talking Phil. There may still be a ball or two in the sand I think, if you get to to Ft Walton, dig around.  Jon showed a fun beach knock out warm up game along the same lines, where players sprint to grab volleyballs on the other endline, with 1 less ball each time than there is per athlete. When you get to the final two competitors, the others bury the last ball, and make dozens of fake ball burial sites in the sand, and watch the search elevate to new heights for the final volleyball.

The highlight of the weekend, other than sharing beach volleyball teaching secrets with everyone attending the clinic, was playing on the double sized court we built. Using a four nets on a rope system to make a 60 foot single net, and 2x4s made into “X” type standards, and joining two normal courtline sets into one, twelve course members played volleyball on the sand. I filmed it to show adults what it feels like to be a young child playing on an adult court.  You can see the final video here.

So please send in your links to videos, or your photos showing how the game found a way to be played over a “net” wherever you might have been in this wonderful world.  Just a few of the examples I have seen are below, to give you an idea of what others have done to play our sport for a lifetime in places that might be seen as less than “ideal.”


Cook Islands, over a tree limb playing 1 v 1 – check out the “referee” in the blue shirt. 


East High School, 4 v 4 over a chainlink fence at Karch Kiraly’s alma mater. 


Vanuatu kids playing 3 v 3 with a rope “net” and bamboo for their X standards.


US Air Force Academy “Arnold Hall” with 16 ParaVolley courts set up with ribbon “nets” and chairs with 50lb free weights on the seat for “standards” – and blue painter’s tape to line the courts. 


Cody and McKenzie Kessel playing in Alaska on grass with 2x4 X standards and a rope net – and shoes and socks for lines…I think it is about 11 pm…lol.


South Carolina Palmetto Region – 2 v 2 monarch of the court – “Losers Become the Net” version (click HERE to see the versions of this great warm up/recess game being played on sand in Italy, grass in Vail Colorado, and a parking lot in Cheyenne, Wyoming.)


Doubles in a soccer stadium in Poland, a soccer net top bar is just about the same height as a men’s net. 


A cul-de-sac game over a rope in Boulder, Colorado.


A balloon game of 1 v 1 over containers as the net – check out the great 1 meter back row attack line!


Pisa, Italy 3 v 3 MiniVolley with a ribbon.

The FIVB has 220 nations as members, including USA Volleyball which was one of the 12 founding members of this International Federation. They also see great ways of the game will find a way in their new posting HERE. It is so great to be a part of NORCECA, our zone, and the FIVB in growing the game together worldwide. 

So send in those ideas on how to grow the game to john.kessel@usav.org – especially the video links and photos of how the game found a way in your area – tell us where and who and we will share on the grassroots section featuring all your contributions. 

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