Updates for AVP’s 2020 season and the COVID-19 implications.

AVP Fan Spotlight – Em’s Entourage

If you’re curious about following the schedule at an AVP tournament, you’ll at least know exactly when and where Emily Day will be playing.

Just follow the blue shirts. And the noise. That’s where Em’s Entourage is parked en masse, ready to cheer for their favorite player.

Maybe Rosie’s Raiders are a little more edgy in their support for Sean Rosenthal. But the Entourage never disappoints, no matter where the tournament is.

“Oh gosh. My favorite thing is that they’re loud and they’re at every match, whether it’s my 8 a.m. on a Friday or a Sunday afternoon,” Day said. “But they’re there and they’re on time. They know how to read the (brackets) board now, they know which courts are which and what time, I don’t have to text them anymore. They’re there from the first serve to the last serve. That’s awesome.”

There is no more loyal following in beach volleyball. Laura Day, Emily’s sister, got the Entourage started with the shirts. Convincing family and friends to join wasn’t difficult, though there was a bit of a learning curve.

In 2013, Emily and Summer Ross were in their first AVP tournament together in Cincinnati. They had to escape the Qualifier, but there were no blue shirts around.

“It was Labor Day weekend and we couldn’t go for some reason,” said Emily’s father, Bob, the unofficial leader of the bunch. “She was in the Qualifier, but she and Summer ran the table.  The finals were on TV so we were at a big Labor Day party watching Emily win AVP Cincinnati.  We should have been there.”

They haven’t missed much since, not even when Emily plays around the world. The Entourage, for instance, has twice been to Puerto Vallarta, The Hague, and Gstaad, Switzerland.  The Entourage consists of fans, family, and friends from across the country. Some of the biggest turnouts have been at AVP NYC and AVP New Orleans.

Sure, there’s an awkward moment or two. The first shirts they ordered had the hashtag “SummerDay,” which was rather inconvenient when Emily switched partners. No worries. Now it reads “#AllDayEveryDay,” and Emily has won tournaments with all four of her main partners, from Summer Ross to Jen Kessy, Brittany Hochevar and currently Betsi Flint (by the way, keep an eye out for Betsi’s Bunch).

What difference does the Entourage make? First, they make sure their cheers are in the positive vein with no heckling of the opponents. Bob, though, will admit that a few referees have heard them.

“It’s hard because when you’re starting to play, everything becomes like white noise, but I do remember last year being in New York on the side courts and the fans are right there behind the net,” Emily said. “We were playing on Saturday in a really tight set against Karissa Cook and Katie Spieler (it ended at 19-17 in the third) and those girls dig everything and I remember after a long rally being pretty tired and huffing and puffing then turning to and look and everybody was there, ‘C’mon Em, keep going, great point, let’s get the next point.’

“They’re definitely the best fans, they’re supportive, they deserve a beer sponsorship so if anyone out there wants to sponsor them . . . They’re great walking billboards with their Em’s Entourage shirts. If they do heckle, they’re probably heckling me.”

Emily has said the presence of the Entourage has pulled her through more than one match.

“We always like to think we have an impact on the outcome,” Bob said. “We usually don’t but she says it’s worth two or three points a match, having that loud boisterous solid crowd behind her. And you know a whole lot of matches depend upon one or two points so that could be the difference between winning or losing. Sometimes when we lose, we yell at each other that the Entourage didn’t do enough in the cheering department. Emily never says that, but we say that sometimes.”

“Some people may think we are crazy but I know other fans out there can relate, regardless of the sport. We have our rituals and that’s one way we like to think we contribute to the match. If Em loses the first set, you can bet with certainty we change our seats in the stands. If Em wins a match, I wear that same hat in the next match and the next day. If she loses a match, it’s time for a new hat,” Bob outlines.

Emily agrees and elaborates, “My mom is the most competitive in our family. You can always find her at my match, in her own space and not really talking to friends or family. Being a part of Em’s Entourage is an all-day social commitment but when it comes game time, Joan is behind the masses, cheering, and not socializing.”

Never before was the Entourage more vociferous than at the 2016 Manhattan Beach Open, when Emily and Hochevar won for the first of their two victories at the storied event. That was the landmark win for the Day family and the Entourage. They liked it so much, they did it again the next year for a repeat.

“To win that one, it was a super close match in the third set, they were so excited to go up to Shellback Tavern to the Champion’s table,” Bob recalled. “Oh my gosh, everyone was so excited.”

Bob would rather not reveal how much he has spent traveling the country (or world), just that it’s part of the plan. If they’re not at an international event, he has his alarm set, even if it means waking up at 2 a.m. to check out the live results.

“I’ll yell at my laptop or yell at my iPhone,” Bob said. “It’s frustrating if she doesn’t win, and then I’ll go back to sleep.”

The Entourage, like Emily, is not going away soon.

“We didn’t think about how long it would last, how big it would get,” Bob said. “We don’t miss too many AVP tournaments. At the end of the day, the AVP is throwing great tournaments and getting bigger & better every year. Em’s career and the festival AVP has created allows our family and friends to get together, explore a new city, and have a good time. That’s what Em’s Entourage is all about.”