For those of you who know me, you know I love my beach volleyball. I’m out at Volleyball Beach at least three nights a week and often times, it’s four or five. If there’s an open tournament I’m there; if someone needs a sub I’m on their list; if it’s a beautiful night out I’m hard-pressed to find a better place to be than with my toes in the sand and a drink in-hand.
But it’s not all about the volleyball. I know, I know – that’s hard to believe coming from a guy who played on eleven different teams last season in all class and type of volleyball that was offered (6s, quads, doubles; A-, B-, C- league). Sure, the sport is a big part of it, but it’s not everything – not by a long shot.
Besides the sport itself there’s the exercise. If you’re playing on a B- or A- level team you’re getting your exercise – your volleys almost certainly last more than one hit and you’re digging, setting and/or hitting regularly. Read another way: you’re moving. Lots. Play a couple of hours of that a week and you’ll notice a (good) change in your body if you spent your off-season in a sedentary state of being. Sure, you’ll hurt for the first week or two, but after that you’ll appreciate the exercise you get. You can do that at Title Boxing Club punching a bag; you can do that running around your neighborhood; you can even do that in a swimming pool. But you can’t have the same combination of exercise and fun in those activities as you do playing sand volleyball under a beautiful blue sky. Guaranteed.
There’s also the entertainment aspect. I’m a fan of Jason Statham as much as the next person, but there’s a place his movies are made for – it’s called “DVD”. On the other hand, I just can’t stand to watch a taped volleyball match – it really loses it’s magic when you’re not watching every bump, set and spike live. Whether I’m the one doing that or not (more often the latter) my heart starts to pound when I watch some good beach volleyball going on. One of my favorite pictures of all time was taken when I was watching such a battle last year (click here to see it). Give me two hours watching two good teams compete on the sand over any of this junk film studios try to pass off as “entertainment” any day – I’ve got a DVD player for the latter; I’ve got two eyes and a passion for the former.
But more than all the above there’s the people. You will not meet more awesome people than you do playing some sand volleyball out at Volleyball Beach. I’ve played indoor and outdoor at a number of venues around the city and I can say, without reservation, that the best people are out in Martin City playing with Howard; it’s not even close. And it’s not just the crew that keeps you entertained, fed and well hydrated (or dehydrated, depending on your preference) – it’s the people you play with. I love winning as much as the next person but even when you’re losing most of the people out there are so much fun you’ll take a loss and still have a smile on your face. Heck – even the one former-pro I know who’s out there is a blast to play against even as he’s attempting to tattoo the Wilson logo onto the sand right in front of you. When you have a nice hit the other team is as likely as yours to congratulate you on it; if you block a spike expect the hitter to compliment you on it; when you set the other team accidentally they’re as likely to razz you about it as your team is. With few exceptions there aren’t any teams out there that I don’t enjoy playing with or against – whether they’re A-, B-, or C-league.
See – I told you there’s more to beach volleyball than just beach volleyball. So whether you’re debating coming out to play or you’re a regular out there like me there’s an easy answer: get off your butt, put on a t-shirt and some shorts and start playing in the sand. You’ll thank me for it.
The Paul Gillespie Experience (http://PaulGillespie.me)