From My Perspective: Katheryn Morgan

Life as a mom of a Juniors beach volleyball player is similar to that of any parent whose child is involved in sports.

It’s a multi-talented job consisting of chauffeur, sherpa, cheerleader, nutritionist, schedule organizer, travel agent, and financial backer, to name a few.

From the first indoor volleyball camp in 4th grade, Olivia was hooked. But who knew how front and center the sport of volleyball would be for our family? As much as she loved playing indoor/hard court volleyball, she loved beach even more. Augmenting her indoor game by playing beach in the summer was initially how it started. Then one summer playing beach volleyball in California she saw a slogan that read “There is NO Bench in Beach.”

And she knew.

She knew the beach volleyball life was for her. She loved the order, the known expectation of who had the next ball, the mental toughness of being able to strategize with her partner, the intensity and passion of the players on the sand and the laid back culture of them off the sand. She knew that the confusion and sometimes pandemonium that occurred on a 6 person team on an indoor court was not for her anymore.

As Olivia transitioned from a child who plays sports to an elite Juniors athlete, so did our family. Early on my husband and I decided I would be the volleyball mom while he took care of the activities for our younger son. So much time, energy, focus, training, and money went into beach volleyball. She and I have spent so many hours together as mother/daughter/friend/foe/supporter/confidant/therapist/fan … the list is endless. I will always be thankful for beach volleyball for giving us so much time together and shaping our relationship.

Many people are surprised to hear there are beach volleyball players from Seattle (and we are GOOD too!). Granted, the rainy weather for most of the year would preclude us from being thought of as the land of sun and sand, but we have geography on our side and traveling to the mecca of beach volleyball, Southern California, was easy. But when Olivia transitioned to full-time beach, it meant commuting 1.5 to 2 hours each way in traffic to make it to practice at our club’s indoor sand court facility 2-3 times a week. She was resolute and so we were determined to help make it happen. As a full-time working mom, it wasn’t easy. She would take the bus into the city, I would pick her up and drive her to practice and we wouldn’t get home until after 9 or 10pm. When she was adamant that she could drive herself, I spent many nights with my nose pressed to the phone screen following her on the GPS to ensure she was safe.

Along with her growing passion for her sport, the landscape of beach volleyball changed and beach emerged as a top sport for females on a Juniors and collegiate level—AVPFirst has played a very big role in making that happen. From the first bid and AVP medal to the National Championship tournament in Hermosa when she was 15, it has been so rewarding witnessing Olivia play her sport and love every minute of it. Because of the awesome tournaments run by AVPFirst and the amazing competition at these tournaments, her skills and abilities grew exponentially. Then during the following summer month of back-to-back Juniors championship tournaments in Hermosa, her dream came true. She was recruited to play beach volleyball at Tulane University!

Never have I been more proud or amazed at what she has accomplished as when she officially signed to be a part of the Tulane beach volleyball team for 2020, and it was all born out of her decision to pursue beach volleyball as a full-time sport.

Beach volleyball, by nature of its two-person format, brings unique and complex value compared to many other popular sports out there. Olivia and her partner(s) develop strong leadership and collaboration skills on the sand that they take with them off the court and into their daily social lives.

Because the teams are relatively small, the girls build strong friendships that will last a lifetime. Also, because Olivia has the opportunity to spend quality 1:1 time with her coaches, they have become mentors and strong role models for her and have helped guide her through critical life choices. And finally, because sprinting and jumping in the sand to send the ball over the net takes incredible precision and placement, these girls are incredibly fit and grow an appreciation for health and fitness that will benefit them for life.

We are lucky to have found beach volleyball. It has helped shape my incredibly awesome daughter and has helped me find fabulous friendships, including the wonderful people that work for AVP. We are extremely thankful that AVP has led the way for this amazing sport and so grateful we are able to be a part of it.