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By: AVP Pro, Ryan Doherty

Anyone who has spent time at the beach has seen it; a young mom or dad dragging a stroller through the sand, carrying more bags than any human being would pack for a trip around the world, all while an infant or toddler cooperates by trying to kick off their shoes or stopping every three steps to investigate a piece of garbage they found in the sand. For me, a mix of amazement/horror always overwhelms me as this scene plays out, and I can only imagine the difficulties that young parent must be facing. But do those difficulties change when that young parent isn’t going for a leisurely trip to the shore but rather to compete against the best beach volleyball players in the country?

The AVP is home to the best professional beach volleyball talent in the country, and the players that comprise the elite level of the sport are an eclectic group. With top players ranging from teenagers to 44-year-olds, there are people at all stages of life on the tour. For those who have just made the jump to being a parent, how does your new role in life effect your ability to perform as an athlete? I was lucky enough to ask some of the best beach volleyball players in the country questions about the difficulties/benefits that come with their new job; parenthood.

What is one of the biggest challenges with having a young child as an athlete?

Billy Allen, winner of the 2016 AVP Seattle Open and father of Ketch Allen, echoed the same idea I heard from most of the parents I spoke with. “Time Management. Before Ketch I could practice, workout, and nap whenever I wanted. Now I have to schedule in advance and have much smaller windows.” Scheduling those practices, workouts, and naps probably gets more difficult when both spouses need to figure it out.

Janelle Allen, Billy’s wife and Ketch’s mom, is also a Main Draw athlete on the AVP tour. Which means they need to schedule practice in the same place and have one practice end right as the other begins, and the Ketch hand-off isn’t always as smooth as they would hope. “Last year our coach Rich Lambourne had to carry Ketch on his shoulders a number of times while we warmed up or to finish practice if there was overlap with my wife’s practice.”

 

Was there something that completely blindsided you about being a parent? What obstacles did you not
anticipate?

Heather McGuire, formerly Heather Hughes before marrying a fellow athlete of the AVP tour Andy McGuire, had a stellar indoor career at Loyola Marymount University before moving out to the beach. She had her first child, Jack McGuire, almost a year ago, and already has two top-10 finishes during the 2017 season. “Sleep. Everyone talks about sleep, but I don’t think

anyone really understands how little and unpredictable the sleep is until they are in it.  Pretty sure I can count on my hands how many times I have been able to sleep through the entire night since Jack was born…11 months ago.” And while a lack of sleep would put lesser players into a perpetually bad mood, (*cough* Me *cough*) Heather takes it all in stride and is able to find the hidden blessings the come from motherhood. “Somehow I’m making it all work and my body feels great. Oh yeah, AND…Jack and I have the same hat size. There have been a couple times when I have forgotten my hat for practice and have worn his instead.”

Traveling to events; if you are successfully bringing your little one to events, what are some tips you could give to other parents? 

Tim Bomgren has been a staple of the main draw for years, and he already has a pair of seventh place finishes to start the AVP season. He lives in Minnesota (the beach volleyball mecca of the midwest) and recently had his first baby boy, Brody Bomgren. Tim readily admits how difficult it can be for parents at the beach. “The biggest challenges for Huntington was the baggage and tugging a stroller through the sand. The amount you are required to bring with you at least doubles when you have a young child.” Even though Tim may be new to parenting, it seems as if he is learning quickly. “If I were to throw out a tip for traveling with an infant, it would be to feed your child on the way up and on the way down during your flight. This will help so that the child’s ears don’t pop and may also give you a well-deserved break (nap) after stressfully hauling all that gear through the airport.”

These athletes approach their new roles as parents the same way they approach their careers on the sand; with dedication, humility, and a desire to do it at the absolute peak of their abilities. And it seems that all of them are embracing the challenge and becoming better because of it. I will let Tim’s words take us out: “There is, however, no better feeling than seeing little man (my nickname for Brody) after a match. Regardless of your results on the court, getting to see, hug and/or kiss your little boy completely alters your mood for the better and it’s such a special thing that’s hard to describe.”

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