We made it to September 23rd, AKA National Volleyball Day 2020! Whether you’re a dedicated indoor player, beach fanatic, or a combination of the two – today is our day to celebrate our love of the game.
Beach Volleyball’s genesis is a bit hazy. Most everyone agrees Hawaiian sand was host to the first volleyball game in the early 20th century. But the first doubles game was (allegedly) played in Santa Monica, California 15 years later. Californians, therefore, claim SoCal as the birthplace of beach volleyball as we know it. So while Hawaii did it first, Santa Monica did it differently. Herein lies the debate.
I’m too young and green to get involved in the discussion. First – I have no dog in the fight. Second – there are legends of the game in both camps, and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. So let’s stick to some select facts, assuming that my previous statements are indeed facts.
First game in Hawaii – 1915
First doubles game in Santa Monica – 1930
First Manhattan Beach Open (The oldest beach volleyball tournament in the world) – 1960
AVP Founded – 1983
First FIVB (Men Only) – 1987
Men’s Winners – Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos
First Women’s FIVB – 1992
Women’s Winners – Karolyn Kirby and Nancy Reno
First Olympics – Atlanta 1996
Men’s Gold – Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes (USA)
Women’s Gold – Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires (BRA)
Donald Sun takes over the AVP – 2013
To me, our history only holds so much weight. While it’s important to acknowledge the pillars of the past, I prefer to celebrate the legends in the making. The AVP athletes that live and breathe the sport now, the ones that sacrifice sleep for practice and travel time for relaxation.
Volleyball means something wholly different and eerily similar to all of us. It’s challenging yet familiar, freeing while (at times) debilitating. I never cry harder or celebrate more than I do within the context of volleyball.
Everyone in my family played basketball because 1. We’re Hoosiers 2. We’re giants. I was terrible at basketball – no handles and spotty accuracy. But I was great at standing under the hoop and being big. Perfect for a burgeoning teenager that was taller than all the boys….
When I found volleyball in middle school, my world opened up. I could be tall and strong while playing a game that favors finesse and grace. Volleyball gave me my own path, a future I never predicted, and the life I have now. Is that sad? Embarrassing? Too much? Maybe, but I wouldn’t go back to that 12-year-old girl who chose volleyball and tell her to do anything differently.
Any volleyball lover/nerd/fanatic has a certain soft spot for the game. And no one more than our athletes. Here are some sentiments from a few.
Volleyball has been a constant source of happiness and frustration… of pain and joy. It is my own version of a controlled struggle, which leads not just to improving my volleyball skills, but also myself as a person. In other words, I love it!
To me, volleyball means competing hard, being gritty, expressing gratitude, and having fun. Volleyball has given me amazing opportunities around the world. I have such a passion for volleyball, and I am so grateful to play this game.
Playing beach volleyball is when I’m my most authentic self. It is the perfect combination of so many things I enjoy doing. I love finding the balance between physicality and strategy, teamwork and individual aspirations, and mostly just pursuing something that was once only a dream.
I have an older sister and growing up I always wanted to do everything she did. So, of course, once she started playing volleyball, I had to jump on the bandwagon. Volleyball has taken me all over the world. I’ve lived in different cultures, seen incredible places, and have met so many amazing people along the way. For that, I am forever grateful for the sport of volleyball.
Volleyball is my definition of home. It’s special for me to be a part of this community and live in the place I grew up, a place that’s perfectly formed around the beach. The pride I have for my home makes volley feel less like a game and more a lifestyle. It will forever be the way I want to live and where I want to be… home.