This blog serves to announce a new section to the USAV Grassroots page – our request for you to submit photos showing you and others creating ways to play our sport of a lifetime – despite not having an official court, or even a ball.
In November, I awoke in Fort Walton Beach, FLa., 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 that woke me up, but the joy of kids' voices playing volleyball on the USA Beach CAP court that we set up the day before.
Phillip Bryant, the pied piper of all volleyball here in the Gulf Shores Region of USA Volleyball, has been creating great events – from hosting the junior and collegiate sand championships in the spring, to this coaching education program. Ali Lamberson and Jon Aharoni taught the beach CAP program, Bill Neville and Don Burroughs worked for indoor CAP, while Phil, Sam, Dave, Dan and others are here did a concurrent quad and doubles tournament for the kids.
I came down two days early to do clinics for kids and coaches, flying out at 6am, just ahead of a snowstorm back in Colorado that caused more than 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 Phil. There may still be a ball or two in the sand I think, if you get to to Fort Walton, dig around.
Jon showed a fun beach knock-out, warmup game along the same lines, where players sprint to grab volleyballs on the other endline, with one 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, 12 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 below.
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.”