The Beach House: Where Beach Volleyball Meets God-Blessed Air Conditioning in Arizona
Brian Lambeth noticed the slow rise of indoor beach volleyball facilities popping up across the country. He saw The Island, in Denver, Colorado. Saw the startling number of beach volleyball players that competed and trained in an area that is more commonly associated with the cold-weather sports – skiing, snowboarding, all things mountains.
It was an option Lambeth, and anybody seeking beach volleyball, didn’t have in Arizona, which requires an indoor facility almost as much as Denver, though for entirely different reasons. Whereas those in Denver – or Cincinnati or Columbus – seek beach volleyball facilities to avoid the cold or snow, those in Arizona would seek it to avoid the crushing heat.
For two years, Lambeth looked for a potential home for his dream. He looked at 50-60 different spots before “finally,” he said, “I found somebody who would say yes.”
That somebody needed towering ceilings and allow Lambeth to ship in tons of sand. That somebody needed to be understanding that it was hosting a startup. It was no easy task to find it, but Lambeth did, coining the facility, which is the first of its kind in Arizona, the Beach House.
“I had a 20-year corporate career and just had the idea that Phoenix was the next market,” Lambeth said. “I was aware that indoor beach volleyball existed in about 15-20 other cities in the U.S. and just felt that Arizona or Phoenix was the next market that needed it. We’re definitely growing the market here in Phoenix. It took me two years to get that landlord say yes.”
Now moving into year two of the Beach House, Lambeth is seeing the growth. Slow growth, yes, but growth nonetheless. Arizona is still a state dominated by the indoor market, which is why Lambeth is adding an indoor volleyball element to the Beach House this season. But still: In year one, 25 athletes were in the beach program, training for six to seven months before a handful made the trip to Southern California in July to compete in the various national championships held in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach.
“I started out as a beach-only club last year and just could not get the kids to come out even one day a week,” he said. “All their bandwidth was taken up by, first, school, and then club, even if they’re only practicing two days a week.
“We’re going to be the first full indoor and beach club in Arizona. We’re planning on doing two practices a weekend or one practice a week and build it in and finally prove it to people that beach makes you a better player.”
There is no doubting that, particularly with the staff Lambeth has hauled in at the Beach House. He’s brought in Joe Rich, a former professional player and an assistant coach at Grand Canyon, as well as Kami Dickerson, the volunteer assistant for the Lopes. He hired Tim McHale, the architect of the Xavier College Prep beach program that has won six state titles since he founded it in 2012.
Joining that staff is also Haleigh Carvalho, who in 2018 became the first head coach in Ottawa University of Arizona history, as well as her husband, Bryan, who has 16 years of volleyball coaching experience.
Lambeth still recognizes that “indoor is the dominant player and that’s entrenched,” he said. “There’s just no time or bandwidth for anything else, so we’re saying ‘Hey, look, you need to make time for this.’”
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