HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (July 17, 2013) – Jane Chafeh's beach volleyball journey hasn't been easy. Though it has led her to the 2013 USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships (Beach HPC) in Hermosa Beach, Calif., it almost never even began.
Chafeh (Fontana, Calif.) began her volleyball career as an indoor player when she was in the seventh grade, following in her older sister’s footsteps. The two shared a court in high school, playing for the same team.
“We pretty much took over the court. We would always fight and it was just horrible!” Chafeh said, laughing. “Every time we were on the court you could hear us yelling at each other.”
| Jane Chafeh serves as she and partner Bree Moreland compete in
their third match of the first day of Beach HPC.
Though Chafeh and her four sisters all play volleyball, her parents are recent immigrants from Cameroon and knew nothing about the sport.
“They were like, ‘what are you guys doing? Just go to school. You don’t need anything else,’ ” Chafeh said.
But Chafeh fell in love with the sport, going on to play NCAA Division II volleyball for Cal State San Bernardino. It was around this time that she began making the switch to the beach and found even more resistance from her college coach.
“My coach didn’t know anything about beach,” Chafeh said. “She didn’t want me to be out here. The first year I was [doing beach], they wanted me to train at Chula Vista, but it was during my double days for indoor, and she was like, ‘Um, you must be joking. You’re not missing indoor for beach.’ ”
Chafeh began competing in the U17 bracket and, despite not being able to focus on beach volleyball, represented the United States at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzen, China. She and partner Geena Urango finished 17th, but Chafeh loved the experience. The duo played its first match inside the main stadium, stayed in university dorms with teams from all over the world and got to sightsee and watch other sports.
“It was definitely a different culture,” Chafeh said. “We went to the market area and they were like, ‘USA! USA!’ because that’s what they knew.
“Right now I’m still here because obviously I want to go back and do it again. I have the experience now so I want to grow. I’m done with school and I can kind of commit a little bit more to this.”
Outside of volleyball, Chafeh has a college degree in exercise science and intends to go back to school for a master’s degree in a related field.
“I’ll probably do that in the next year or two because I’m planning to go overseas to Israel and play [indoor] there,” Chafeh said.
But she can’t yet remember what her team is called or what city she’ll be living in; she’s still trying to get a handle on Hebrew letters and pronunciation.
In the meantime, Chafeh is up against heavy odds at Beach HPC. She and partner Bree Moreland met the night before the tournament began after only knowing each other through seeing each other practice.
“It kind of worked out because I’m a blocker and she’s a defender,” Chafeh said. “We’re learning each other today. We lost one in three and won our second one in two, so I think it’s progressing.”
Chafeh and Moreland went on to win their third match of the day, a three-set battle.
But to an athlete who leaves her house at 6 a.m. and spends nearly two hours sitting in Los Angeles traffic just to get to practice every morning, battling is nothing new.
For match schedules and results, click here.
2013 USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships
U15 Girls: July 19-21
U17 Girls: July 18-20
U19 Girls: July 19-21
U21 Women: July 17-18
U26 Women: July 17-18
U15 Boys: July 18-20
U17 Boys: July 18-20
U19 Boys: July 19-21
U21 Men: July 17-18
U26 Men: July 17-18