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U.S. Beach Volleyball Update: Taking on the World

March 14, 2013, 7:18 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Communications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org
USAV Facebook - @USA_Volleyball - @USAV Beach

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 14, 2013) –After finding domestic success with a new partner in 2012, Jennifer Fopma feels ready to take the next step to the FIVB World Tour.

Brooke Sweat, left, and Jennifer Fopma go after the ball in Switzerland
Jennifer Fopma, right, and Brooke Sweat go after the ball.

Fopma (Bellflower, Calif.), 31, has been playing beach volleyball on domestic tours since 2005 and had her most successful season in 2012 with new partner Brooke Sweat (Fort Myers, Fla.), 26.

“Definitely playing with Brooke Sweat was a highlight for me,” Fopma said. “She changed my career and made me passionate about playing and playing internationally.

“We have this crazy chemistry that I haven’t had with anyone before. Everything was easy. Training and traveling was easy.”

The pair finished first at the Milwaukee Shootout on the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Tour. They finished second at the open tournaments in Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach and they finished third in Huntington Beach and Chicago.

In July, they traveled to Switzerland for the 1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam. They won the country qualifier and made it through the qualification bracket to advance to the main draw, where they did not advance from pool play and finished 25th.

Nevertheless, the experience made the team hungry to try again.

“That is definitely our intention to compete on the FIVB World Tour,” Fopma said. “We felt like we had a good domestic season last season. We feel like, ‘let’s take it to the world stage.’ It’s going to be difficult, but we’re committed.”

The team will also compete on the NORCECA Beach Circuit and in whatever domestic events they can fit into their schedule.

Fopma admitted that making the Olympic team in 2016 is “in the back of our minds.” She got a taste of the Olympic Games during the summer of 2012 when she traveled to London with her husband, Jeff Conover, who was coaching eventual silver medalists Jennifer Kessy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.).

“My favorite match to watch was the semifinal when April and Jennifer beat Juliana (Felisberta) and Larissa (Franca),” Fopma said. “No one expected that.

“I felt so much pride for Jeff,” Fopma said. “He was an unknown coach when Jen and April took a chance on him. All of a sudden they are in the Olympic final. Seeing an all-American final, every American should be excited about that.”

Knowing a good thing when they see it, Fopma and Sweat have started working with Conover this year and they sometimes scrimmage Kessy and Ross in the mornings. Fopma, Sweat and Conover have lunch together, and then go their separate ways.

In the afternoon, Fopma heads for the gym and then to physical therapy, “because I’m old,” she said.

“It’s really boring during the preseason. But I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else in the world.”

U.S. TEAMS HEADED FOR NORCECA TOURNAMENTS

The new U.S. men’s beach volleyball team of Ryan Doherty (Toms River, N.J.) and Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) will play in the opening event of the 2013 NORCECA Beach Circuit event on March 22-24 in the Cayman Islands.

It will be the first tournament for the new pair, who formed at the end of 2012 after Rogers split with Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Doherty left Casey Patterson (Van Nuys, Calif.). Dalhausser and Rogers won the FIVB World Championships in 2007 and the Olympic gold medal in 2008.

The U.S. men’s team of Casey Jennings (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Stafford Slick (Andover, Minn.) are also scheduled to compete in the Cayman Islands.

On the women’s side, the U.S. team of Jenny Kropp (Grand Island, Neb.) and Whitney Pavlik (Laguna Beach, Calif.) is scheduled to compete along with Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat.

At the second 2013 NORCECA Beach Circuit event on March 29-31 in the Dominican Republic, Brad Keenan (Westminster, Calif.) and John Mayer (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) will play in the men’s bracket while Fopma and Sweat will play in the women’s.

BEACH PLAYERS MEET WITH FIVB

Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Todd Rogers were part of a delegation of beach volleyball players that met with FIVB beach volleyball officials on March 7 in Lausanne, Switzerland to discuss the FIVB’s new regulations for its World Tour.

According to an FIVB press release, FIVB Beach Volleyball Commission President Vicente Araujo and FIVB Beach Volleyball Department Director Angelo Squeo explained to the delegation the technical aspects of the new FIVB beach volleyball philosophy and its goals, namely:

To grow the sport worldwide;
To increase the number of participating national federations;
To increase the role of the confederations;
To increase the importance of all levels of events;
To increase the number of promoters;
To create more opportunities for players to play;
To allow new teams and new countries to enter the World Tour easily;
To ensure high quality events without over burdening promoters

"We are very appreciative to the FIVB for making this meeting happen and in particular Mr. Araujo and Mr. Squeo for listening to and considering the players’ thoughts and comments," Rogers said in the release. "I am also very appreciative to all the players who gave input and in particular the players that were able to make this meeting. Without question positive progress was made and I believe we are moving in the right direction. We all want what is best for beach volleyball and these kinds of discussions are very important for the different constituency groups to be able to discuss how that can be accomplished moving forward."

KESSY, ROSS DEDICATE STADIUM

Jennifer Kessy and April Ross played the first-ever match at the University of Southern California’s new Merle Norman Stadium at a dedication ceremony on March 7 for the new on-campus home to the Women of Troy sand volleyball team.

Following the dedication hosted by USC athletic director Pat Haden, Kessy and Ross, who were All-American indoor players at USC before forming their beach volleyball team, played an exhibition match.

To view photos from the dedication, click here.

STANFORD MAKES IT OFFICIAL

Stanford University officially announced on March 7 that it will field a sand volleyball team this spring.

The women’s sand volleyball team will begin its inaugural season on April 2 when it faces Santa Clara for the first of eight duals this season.

John Dunning, who coaches Stanford’s women’s indoor volleyball team, will also coach the sand team.

For the AVCA list of schools that have confirmed sand volleyball programs or are considering adding programs, click here.

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