Last summer, the AVP partnered with Beach Nation – a traveling clinic program for youth volleyball players. Huge names like Olympic Gold medalist and Cal Poly Head Coach Todd Rogers, living legend and MB Sand owner Patty Dodd, AVCA’s 2022 Beach Coach of the Year Kristen Rohr, and Men’s US National Team and UCLA Men’s Head Coach John Speraw are all massive parts of what makes Beach Nation the best in the country. I had the pleasure of chatting with all four.
Beach Nation travels the country hosting clinics with some of the best college coaches in the game. And not just from D1, top-ten programs. They pull talent from D2, D3, NAIA, and Junior Colleges to get every level of athlete a chance to be seen. While local university coaches watch from the sidelines, Beach Nation participants get seven hours of instruction from the Beach Nation team. Coaches include those I previously listed, Brooke Niles, Nick Lucena, Phil Dalhausser, Beth van Fleet, and more.
The feedback from these elites is unparalleled. But Beach Nation is more than just the big names. They value cohesive curriculum, almost all of which is built by Todd “The Professor” Rogers. Rogers was an incredibly cerebral player who not only ruled the game while he played but also helped Phil Dalhausser learn and master the sport. He’s one of the greatest beach volleyball minds ever.
The brains behind Beach Nation go further than their clinics. They’re the official educational partner of the AVP, JVA, and Sterling Volleyball; Beach Nation also helped create proprietary content for USAV Beach. Virtually all of the senior partners and leadership team are university coaches, scouts, and/or part of the National Team Development Program. An entity that spans the AVP, NCAA, JVA, and USAV is literally unheard of; that alone speaks to the credibility and power of Beach Nation’s programming.
Rogers also understands individual feedback and ample reps are crucial to improvement. “We have eight people max per court,” he says. “That was a main premise. Each court usually has one college coach, and often there’s an assistant. The feedback and repetitions are going to be exceptional and top-notch versus another camp or clinic scenario.” While other clinics have no limit and often have too many kids per court, Beach Nation caps registration. So if you’re interested, sign up now!
GCU’s Kristen Rohr has been a Beach nation staple since its inception. “We see a lot of value in giving feedback,” she says. “Todd, Patty, and Mark [Fishman] do a great job of coming up with a specific plan based on the goals for each session. The kids are getting a lot of skill work, instruction, and feedback.”
Each clinic is different. Beach Nation has athletes who’ve been to so many various clinics that they didn’t need t-shirts anymore. The curriculum is ever-changing; with endless skills to work on and lessons to learn, the Beach Nation coaches switch up the focus every time. Someone could essentially go to every clinic this summer and have different focuses, coaches, and feedback each time. The limit of benefit does not exist.
Beach Nation’s motto is “Skills, Not Drills.” Focusing on fundamentals remains the crux of Beach Nation’s philosophy. “We build on skills and strategy,” Patty Dodd says. “That’s what sets us apart – the amount of time the kids get to spend with the college coaches in a setting where the curriculum makes sense and is really well organized.”
Signing up online is simple. Then all you have to do is show up and be ready to work. Each clinic starts with an assessment, seeing where each participant is at and who they’ll move through the rest of the weekend with. From there, coaches begin their training based on the theme chosen for the day – offensive strategy, blocking, serve receive, etc.
One of the most valuable Beach Nation components is a bonus during lunch. I wrote about this last summer but have to mention it again. A panel of coaches treat the kids and parents to a recruiting seminar and Q&A. As someone who was once trying to get recruited and didn’t know the rules, how long my video should be, or what stats to include – my younger self would have loved one of these panels.
Another fundamental Beach Nation value is growing the men’s game. Volleyball is one of the nation’s only sports that offers more opportunities for women. There are much fewer college Men’s indoor teams (and therefore available scholarships) and no NCAA Men’s beach programs. With Title IX and the incredible amount of Men’s scholarships allocated to football players, there likely won’t ever be NCAA Men’s Beach Volleyball.
But that doesn’t mean Beach Nation gave up on the boys. John Speraw, arguably the best indoor coach on the planet, and John Hawks, the revered coach who just took the helm of the Loyola Chicago men’s program, are heading up grass clinics for boys and girls all over the country.
“As a general philosophy,” Speraw says, “and in my role as the national team coach, I’ve been very engaged in growing the Men’s game for quite some time. It really started with the First Point Volleyball Foundation.” First Point encompasses Speraw’s mission to grow and diversify the Men’s game. Mark Fishman, the catalyst of Beach Nation, got to know the First Point and eventually joined the board.
So when Mark was launching Beach Nation, he knew he wanted John Speraw to be a part of it. “Mark was very interested in combining forces,” Speraw says, “to see if we could use the Beach Nation structure to create opportunities for boys to have some exposure to collegiate recruiting in places where they normally don’t have it.”
The grass clinics are similar to the beach ones; top-notch college coaches from around the country both coach and watch the clinics. With upcoming clinics in Chatanooga, TN, and Greenville, SC, Beach Nation is bringing top university coaches to areas that wouldn’t normally have clinics like that. “With all the growth down there,” Speraw says, “I think it’s a mutually beneficial opportunity for the boys and for the growth of universities in that region.”
Speraw and Hawks use their connections and friendships to bring the best to the Beach Nation grass clinics. Their reach and influence are basically limitless. The boys in the regions they’re coming to better jump on this opportunity fast! Getting coached and seen by these guys is priceless.
The Beach Nation clinics also serve John Speraw’s mission to diversify the game. His First Point collaborations and connections with HBCUs will bring more diversity to the coaches and participants. Going all over the country to various regions gives underrepresented populations more chances to be seen.
“I’m so enthusiastic about what I’m seeing,” Speraw says, “about everybody’s interest in collaboration in these regions of the country. I just think there’s so much opportunity in this part of the country. There are a lot of people that don’t even know that there are scholarships available. I think there’s just so much momentum; the chance to ride this into new areas of the country is really exciting.”
The relationship-building and connections alone are invaluable. The reps, feedback, and knowledge make a Beach Nation clinic one of the most valuable assets junior volleyball players have access to.
Don’t miss out on your chance to participate. Sign up for a clinic in your region today!