From My Perspective: Steph Sun

Donald came home from work one day while I was in the office working on something. He said, “Soooooo… The AVP is for sale and I think I want to buy it.” Not even looking up from the computer, I said, “Okay – What is it, and how much is it?” He said, “It’s beach volleyball and you don’t want to know how much it is.” I looked up at him and said, “Wait, what?” thinking he was totally kidding, but nope – he was dead serious, of course, with a huge smile on his face. I thought to myself, “We know nothing about beach volleyball, other than the fact that I had played volleyball in 6th grade, and to say that I sucked, would be a gross understatement.”

Donald loved volleyball; he played it in high school and was REALLY good. He had always followed the AVP and now he had the opportunity to own the assets. It was something new and it was something he was so excited about. So, I told him, “Do your due diligence, and afterwards, if it makes sense, go for it.” Clearly he did not do his due diligence. If he had, I’m thinking we would have been doing something very different today. Ha! Blessing in disguise?

April 2, 2012 – My birthday. The official release came out that AVP’s assets had been purchased. We were so excited. I was still working at the time, thinking I could juggle both, because, how hard could beach volleyball be, right? Donald and the small team we put together (enter Josh Glazebrook) ran the first event in Cincinnati without me. When he came home from the Cincy event, he told me that I needed to go to our Santa Barbara event with him, because I needed to see it for myself, and he needed help. Who knew that this event would change my life forever.

From the moment we got to Santa Barbara, I spent hours upon hours meeting new people, talking, and schmoozing like I have never done before. The new Mr. & Mrs. AVP. Everyone wanted to know what we were about. That Saturday evening, we had a grand player party at someone’s mansion that included valet parking. I remember thinking how beautiful it all was, but all I wanted to do was sleep. I was completely and utterly exhausted. By the next morning, I had lost my voice and I honestly didn’t want to say another word to anyone. I just wanted to hide away. So, during one of the last matches, I found an empty space on the sand and I sat down to finally watch a bit of this sport I knew nothing about. Sean Scott and John Hyden were playing against Rosie and Jake. While I was zoning out, thinking how on earth I was going to balance this and my own work, while taking care of the kids, I saw Rosie come up to the net, twist his body the opposite direction and hit the ball straight down… BACKWARDS – like a freaking super human.

Excuse me, WHAT? I may have known nothing about beach volleyball, but I knew I had seen something really special. The entire stadium went berserk, and I felt everyone’s energy and roars pulse through me, giving me chills. I covered my mouth with my hand in shock and the rest was history. I was completely and utterly hooked. Soon after, Donald found me in the sand, sat down next to me, and the first thing I said to him was, “I love this sport,” with the biggest smile on my face.

Fast forward to today.

I’m not going to lie. This is the hardest thing Donald and I have ever done. There have been times where we wonder why we put ourselves and our family through this. There have been days before where I would see Donald wake up carrying the weight of the sport on his shoulders but would still manage to compartmentalize and spend quality time with our kids. It made me angry and it made my heart hurt for him. But deep down, I knew why we continued to do what we do. Donald and I LOVE this sport. We love watching this sport. We love being a part of this sport. We believe in this sport, and we are here to protect it and watch it flourish. We have seen so much great change and we are so optimistic of what’s to come.

Beach volleyball is our life. Our blood, our sweat, our tears — and we wouldn’t change a thing. This brand, this sport, is the best f’ing thing on this planet.