The 2020 U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball Team could be the first to include women who played beach volleyball in college, as the sport just became an NCAA sanctioned sport last year.
That being said, next weekend’s USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships are all the more worth watching. USA Volleyball will host the double-gender event from May 11-13 on Hermosa Beach in California. The competition will include 24 women’s pairs and 12 men’s pairs, with the winning duos earning spots on USA Volleyball’s collegiate beach national team.
The event is part of the inaugural Team USA Summer Champions Series — which also includes events in diving, swimming and track and field — and the finals will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 6 p.m. on May 13. The Series is a preview for fans leading into the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Given the rich beach volleyball history on Hermosa Beach, here are 10 reasons the area has such a wonderful reputation for the sport.
1. Three-time Olympic champion and former AVP pro volleyball star Misty May-Treanor hails from Hermosa Beach. She retired following the Olympic Games London 2012 with a record 112 victories. In 2007, she surpassed Holly McPeak’s previous all-time wins record of 72 with a win on Hermosa Beach alongside teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings.
2. In 1990, beach volleyball was broadcast for the first time ever when NBC Sports aired the AVP Hermosa Beach event.
3. The first Hermosa Beach volleyball tournament was played in 1970 when Ron Von Hagen and Henry Bergman captured the title.
4. Dain Blanton became the first black professional beach volleyball player to win a tournament on the AVP Tour when he and partner Canyon Ceman won the Miller Lite Hermosa Beach Grand Slam in 1997. That event also marked the most prize money for a single tournament in the history of beach volleyball at $300,000. Blanton went on to make the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Teams, and he won a gold medal in 2000 with Eric Fonoimoana.
5. Blanton’s partner at those 2000 Olympics, Fonoimoana, grew up in the area, and the former AVP pro now sells properties in Hermosa Beach as a real estate agent.
6. Every year from 1984 to 2010, Hermosa Beach was a cornerstone event in the AVP schedule. After a brief hiatus, the competition will be back for 2017. The AVP Hermosa Beach Open will take place this summer from July 20-23 and will be broadcast live by NBC Sports.
7. Hermosa Beach is known for its laid-back attitude, and therefore travelers can often look out their balconies and see novice and professional athletes playing alongside one another at the volleyball courts that lie directly in front of their hotels.
8. Hermosa Beach is home to an astounding 71 beach volleyball courts, and visitors are also welcome to put up temporary beach volleyball courts as long as they are taken down at dusk. If visitors are hoping to score a tournament-grade court for their group, it’s recommended they arrive before 9 a.m. on a weekend.
9. With an average summer temperature of 74 degrees and a winter temperature of 55 degrees, Hermosa Beach residents play beach volleyball year round.
10. By partnering with Kent Steffes to win the AVP Hermosa Beach event in 1996, three-time Olympic champion Karch Kiraly was able to break the single-season prize money earnings record, taking home a whopping $492,081.
Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.