p1440: Chloe Crappell, Carissa Whalen

p1440 Developmental Program: Chloe Crappell, Carissa Whalen finding their community through beach

If nothing else can explain the abundant moments of serendipity produced by the sport of beach volleyball in Southern California, perhaps the stories of Chloe Crappell and Carissa Whalen can.

Crappell had just moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a recent graduate of the University of New Mexico where she went 11-10 as a senior, primarily at the No. 1 position. She was new to California, without the stable group of friends and community a college provides.

Whalen, too, had made the move to California, from Wausau, Wisconsin – “there aren’t many beaches in Wisconsin,” she said, laughing. An indoor player, she had grown disenchanted with volleyball.

“The one thing that brought me back was changing the environment,” she said, “getting out on the sand and falling back in love with the game. It kind of created a reach outside of my comfort zone and made me want to get better and improve and make me better at volleyball.”

And so, not long before the first p1440 practice, Crappell and Whalen, who had never met, never played together, a New Mexican and a Wisconsinite, got on a call and figured why not give this beach thing a try.

“’I don’t have a partner, you don’t have a partner,’” Crappell recalled the conversation going, “and it just all kind of worked out. I think creating chemistry for us is going to be super important and seeing how I can help her and she can help me and we can make each other better players and better people.”

The first time they met was the first day of practice. Barely a month into the p1440 Developmental Program, they’re ranked No. 2, behind only McKenna Thibodeau and Madison Willis, who have been developing team chemistry their entire lives.

“Right now, we’re figuring each other out, trying to play to our strengths, and also notice our weaknesses and notice how we can each get better and play more as a whole rather than two individuals on the court,” Whalen said.

And indeed, they are figuring it out, finishing fifth in the first Match Play tournament on January 25. Better yet: They have more than a single practice together. They have a community.

“Everything is still new and every day is a new experience, even living in a whole new state and a whole new atmosphere,” Crappell said. “So I just try to take each minute and appreciate each minute I have.”