|Christian Honer (left) and Dayton Arellano.|
HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (July 17, 2013) - Growing up in Surprise, Ariz., Christian Honer started playing beach volleyball at a city park near his home. He’d bike there to watch games and hope that someone would invite him to be on their team.
“Sometimes I’d be just sitting there and have to go home because nobody would ask me,” Honer said.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, Texas, Dayton Arellano grew up with parents who played beach volleyball and ran a beach volleyball program on the two sand courts in the backyard of their home. His childhood was a revolving door of players who would patiently pepper with him, helping him hone his skills. One of his earliest volleyball memories is attending a professional tournament and peppering with Karch Kiraly.
“I didn’t know who he was, and everybody was telling me that he was the best player in the world,” Arellano said. “I was just bumping balls with him, just having fun. Peppering with Karch, pink hat and everything.”
It seems like a bit of a stretch to believe that these two would eventually form a team. But after only one month of partnership, Honer and Arellano are competing in the U21 division at the 2013 USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships [Beach HPC] in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
To make the situation sound even more like it’s straight out of a movie, Honer and Arellano met each other on Instagram.
"We both have Instagram and we have thousands of followers," Arellano said. "We met because we have the same amount of followers—"
"And we post volleyball pictures and stuff like that," Honer supplied.
"So we met through Instagram and he actually came out here and we played a tournament together,” Arellano continued. “The first time we ever met. We played an open level tournament, which is the top-level tournament, and we did pretty good."
"And then he asked me to be his roommate. And that’s how it started," Honer finished.
Though they come from completely different volleyball backgrounds, neither Honer nor Arellano had any interest in pursuing indoor volleyball. Honer played the last indoor season as a setter on a club team, but only because he thought it would help his beach game.
"I fell in love with beach,” Honer said. “I don’t really enjoy the indoor game as much as I do beach, probably because there’s only one other person you have to rely on. In indoor, there’s five other people, and it’s like—"
“Nobody is as intense as you,” Arellano jumped in, “and you have to rely on everybody else to do their part, and sometimes people don’t.”
“Exactly,” Honer said.
“You can control the game out here more,” Arellano said. “You get more touches on the ball. It helps your game a lot better.”
“Mhm,” Honer hummed with a nod.
“And it’s just a better environment,” Arellano said. “I mean, there’s girls on the side just watching, and you’re outside in the sun by the beach. You can’t beat that!”
“You can’t beat that,” Honer agreed. “I was a setter so I didn’t really get to hit or do any passing or anything. I would just set the whole time. I wish I could play every position!”
Honer gets his wish on the beach and is soaking up every moment in California, where he gets to watch professionals practice several times a week. He and Arellano aren’t taking their time here lightly and have set their sights high.
“Our goal for this weekend is to win the [Beach HPC] tournament,” Arellano said. “We’ve had that goal since we met each other. And [we want to] just keep getting better each year, instead of plateauing. Increasing our game, getting smarter.”
“This sport is just amazing,” Honer said. “I have a lot of goals. I write them down.”
“You should’ve brought them!” Arellano exclaimed.
Honer nodded, disappointed. “I should’ve brought them.”
“Vision board,” Arellano supplied.
“Yeah, I need to make something like that,” Honer said with a grin.
Honer’s ultimate goal is to have the freedom to play beach volleyball, whether professionally or as a hobby.
“I don’t know, there’s just something about this sport that just keeps me going,” he said. “I’ve tried every other sport, basically – baseball, basketball, golf, everything. I don’t know. I’ve just never had such a passion for anything. Hopefully it doesn’t end!”
For match schedules and results, click here.
2013 USAV 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