Reach The Beach: Ian Satterfield

Ian Satterfield is an AVP athlete, talented photographer, and life of the party. I was once out with a group of friends in Austin after we lost our games. We were walking down Rainey Street and came upon Ian. He was by himself, the buttons of his Hawaiian shirt dangerously low, and totally without a plan. We absorbed him into our group, and he proceeded to spend the rest of the evening with us. 

That night was so quintessentially Ian – fun, adventurous, spontaneous, creative. 

Typically when we do a Reach the Beach, I tell the story of someone’s journey to SoCal to pursue beach volleyball. But there are a handful of athletes that grew up in the place that we all flock to. Like Ian. 

Ian’s the only child of two LA locals. He grew up in Manhattan Beach, in a home walking-distance from the Pacific Ocean. He dabbled in beach volleyball as a kid. But when he hit his growth spurt in seventh grade, his two former volleyball playing parents encouraged him to pick up indoor. Ian, who’s now 6’5″, kept his options open by playing both basketball and volleyball. But volleyball edged out in the end. Especially because Ian was (and still is) a natural. 

Ian and his indoor team at Mira Costa High School were among the best in the state in 2008 and 2009. In his sophomore year, they went to the State championships, only to lose the final match in the fifth set by two points (indoor volleyball is won by winning three out of five sets). 

This loss lit a fire in the bellies of the MCHS men’s team, and the 2009 squad was not about to repeat their agony. “There was no way we were going to feel that pain again,” Ian recalls of their disappointment. The team powered through their next season, making it to the final match once again. This time, they got the W for Mira Costa. Winning that game remains Ian’s favorite career volleyball memory. Not only did he experience the euphoria of victory (something we athletes sacrifice so much to feel), but he’d also discovered something he loved and excelled at. 

After high school, Ian attended and played indoor for Long Beach State. During his time there, he played alongside Taylor Crabb (who won NCAA Player of the Year two years in a row while Ian was there). Their team was very successful, and Ian’s volleyball skill and passion grew. 

After graduating, Ian secured a coveted position in a marketing role at a real estate firm. Though it was an excellent job he thought he wanted, Ian soon realized he was not ready to give up the game. He put in his two-weeks-notice and turned his attention to professional volleyball.

In taking this leap, Ian had to make the huge decision of whether he would travel overseas to play professional indoor volleyball or remain stateside and try his hand at beach. Traditionally, indoor players make decent money while living and competing in foreign countries for up to nine months out of the year. Though the stability of indoor was attractive, Ian loved the idea of staying in Manhattan Beach, close to friends and family in what he deems “the best place in the world” while also pursuing his dream of being a professional athlete. He (obviously) chose beach volleyball and never looked back.

Over Ian’s five years of playing on the AVP, he has established himself a Main Draw mainstay on the AVP and traveled to multiple countries representing the USA. His 2018 and 2019 seasons were his best, with five Top 10 finishes. 

One of the ways Ian challenges himself is by treating each day as a tryout. He doesn’t take breaks; he doesn’t let up or treat a training session lightly. Every day is match day, whether he’s playing a qualifier or getting reps with friends on a weekday morning. “I continue to play,” he says, “because I feel like I’m good at it, but I have a lot of areas to get better. There is always more to be done.” 

One of his focuses has always been open and honest communication with his partners and ample feedback from practice players. Manhattan Beach is a beach volleyball haven; Ian regularly trains with Olympians and legends-in-the-making. “I get some of the best competition in the world here,” he says. Luckily for Ian, he has access to the best beaches and best players while having the luxury of remaining in his hometown. He’s still close to his family, both physically and relationally. 

As with many AVP athletes, Ian is multitalented. He improves his skills daily in practice and works side jobs to supplement income. Luckily, money is coming in through gigs he genuinely enjoys. Ian coaches a bit on the side, ranging from ten-year-old kids to middle-aged adults and everything in between. He loves coaching, especially when he sees his kids make improvements. When finally – it clicks. 

Ian’s also a talented photographer and videographer. He’s shot wedding and real estate videos, as well as countless other special events. He rarely has a day with nothing on the docket, but he knows this is what it takes to get where he wants to go. And he’s made steady headway in the last two years. 

As a Manhattan local and beach volleyball player, Ian’s love of the game drives him every day to pursue greatness. “Growing up in Manhattan beach,” he says, “the biggest thing I want is to get my name on the pier.” Winners of the legendary AVP Manhattan Beach Open are memorialized in a volleyball plaque embedded in the MB Pier. It’s the ultimate honor in the South Bay, and Ian wants it badly. Another goal is the LA Olympics in 2028. These dreams keep him going, keep him in the gym – on the sand and out of the office.

Miles Evans (left) and Ian Satterfield (right) stand before a crowd of about 45,000 people in attendance to witness the opening ceremonies for the Pan American Games of Toronto 2015.

The pandemic has been challenging, of course, but Ian’s found his way to the sand. This summer, he traveled to eight AVP America tournaments around the country. And he won four of them. He’s kept his skills and workout regimen tight. With such a steady upward trajectory, Ian’s not one to let himself relax too much on his goals. 

Though it’s a grind, Ian’s is a life he chose, one he made for himself. “My life is: play volleyball, workout, coach, and shoot content,” he laughs. “Maybe I would like to have more free time, but there are other problems I could have. I enjoy what I do.”