FIVB Snow Volleyball

Snow Volleyball Trip ‘An Adventure You Can’t Pass Up’

Katie Spieler-snow volleyball-emily hartong-karissa cook-allie wheeler

The first question – after the laugh, after the inspection of facial expressions to see whether you are, in fact, serious; after a subsequent laugh when they realize that you are, indeed, serious – is always the same: How do you train for snow volleyball?

It’s a fair question. It’s also one that, at this current moment in the United States, has no real answer.

“You don’t,” said Chase Frishman, who is playing alongside fellow AVP Rookie of the Year Eric Zaun as well as Chris Vaughan, the 2016 NVL Rookie of the Year, and Travis Mewhirter, who has no such volleyball distinctions.

Frishman chatted briefly with the McKibbin brothers, Riley and Maddison, who are also, with Troy Field in tow, making the snow volleyball trek to Austria and Italy over the next two weeks. He pitched the idea that the two teams should have gone up to Big Bear and put together a snow volleyball training video to accompany their viral beach training videos. Only problem, of course, is that neither the McKibbins nor Frishman nor even any of the girls making the trip – Emily Hartong, Allie Wheeler, Katie Spieler, Karissa Cook – would have been able to put together a reasonable curriculum.

“I do explain how they want to make it an Olympic sport in 2026 and if the opportunity is there I’d love to be an Olympian,” Hartong said. “But it’s definitely not a sport I’ll be training for. Just training from the sand carries over. It goes hand in hand, which works out for us.”

On a whim in December, Hartong and co. returned from Moscow with a gold medal in hand, prompting USA Volleyball Director of Beach National Programs Sean Scott to joke, “It’s GOLD outside.”

If nothing else, that may best describe the vibe of snow volleyball in its current, nascent phase as a sport — competitive but not yet too serious.

“It’s laid back,” Hartong said. “Good vibe, good atmosphere. People just want to have a good time.”

It’s exactly why Frishman decided to spurn two weeks of beach training less than a month before the AVP season to play a strange sport in two countries.

“I think the state of mind I was in was adventure and travel,” said Frishman, whose team, like the women, are straight into main draw, which begins on Friday in Austria, with the finals to be played on Sunday. “It’s one of those opportunities you can’t pass up. The adventure, the crew is going to be a fun crew. You get your flight paid for to go to another country. We’ll compete. We’ll give it our best go. We’re gonna make it an adventure.”

There is little doubting that. And if Hartong is correct in her assessment that beach translates well to snow, then the U.S. is in good hands. Spieler and Cook won tournaments on myriad surfaces last year – on the sand in Seaside, Oregon; in the Caribbean for a NORCECA; and, of course, in the snow. Wheeler had a career season on the AVP while Hartong made her debut.

On the men’s side, Zaun made Sunday during p1440’s Huntington Beach Young Guns while claiming a pair of fifths on the AVP. Frishman began the 2018 season with a gold medal in Shepparton, Australia. Mewhirter, like Hartong, also made his professional debut, highlighted by a silver medal at the same NORCECA Spieler and Cook won gold.

“A snow trip,” Hartong said, “you usually just wing stuff. It’s going to be a good time.”