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Beach Youth Movement

United Youth Beach Volleyball Movement on Display in Southern California All Month

RISE

Jason Kaiser was walking along the Hermosa Beach strand on Friday morning. Enjoying the sunrise. Watching some volleyball. A lovely morning stroll, if not a bit far from home.

He’s a San Antonio guy, Kaiser. Runs a facility called 210 Beach, which is not close to California, though that’s kind of the point: Kaiser, and dozens and dozens and dozens – hundreds, actually, not dozens – were in the South Bay for a slew of major youth beach volleyball tournaments.

There is, technically, no beginning or end to the youth beach volleyball season. Tournaments start and end a bit randomly.

But there is, it seems, a championship season. Just this month in Southern California, there was the p1440 RISE National Championships, a volleyball festival featuring more than 200 teams in its inaugural year. There was AAU National Championships. BVCA National Championships. A USA Volleyball event in Manhattan Beach. AVP First events.

The entire youth beach volleyball community descended upon, and remains present in, Southern California.

Together.

And that, more than anything, is the goal of this youth movement, and RISE in particular: Uniting all of these beach volleyball factions, from Kaiser in San Antonio to Utah Beach Volleyball in, you guessed it, Utah, to Florida and legitimately everywhere in between.

“I run AVP, I run p1440, I run AAU, I run USAV and I run Rox,” Kaiser said months ago, at the beginning of summer. “That’s what I do. I want to have p1440 involved as much as possible because I believe in the overall mission of what [p1440 is] doing. I think it’s good, I think it’s good to have multiple factions that are big bodies on the national level that are doing good things.”

Kaiser’s point is underscored by this: Multiple factions are, indeed, doing good things, and this month in Southern California was a manifestation, on public display, of that. It’s why, when p1440 launched the RISE program, it sought to include bodies from all over the nation. Didn’t matter if the program or site or club were located in a beach-centric location or one that many might not predict to be rich in beach volleyball talent.  

“We wanted to bring more to the table,” said Fernando Sabla, who helped launch the RISE program. “Not just tournaments or giving medals away. It was about building a youth and amateur program that encompasses what p1440 is – health and wellness, nutrition, development, training, entertainment. The three that really stick out is health and wellness and development.

“The reason that it exists? To bring more opportunity for young players.”

Opportunities are now abounding everywhere, specifically because of the hundreds of clubs and facilities providing opporutnities for growth, and then working together, finding ways to get their girls – and boys – to compete in national tournaments. Now, athletes from Hawai’i have numerous opportunities to compete against girls from the East Coast. East Coast athletes now have numerous opportunities to compete against West Coasters. Midwest beach players now have the chance to make “midwest beach player” no longer an oxymoron, but a bona fide indicator of talent, with a shot at a college scholarship.

And it’s only getting better from here. With programs like RISE still in its inaugural year — and others, such as AVP First, AAU, BVCA – the power in numbers, and in unity, is helping the grassroots movement become as explosive as it is.

In fact, the biggest problem being presented to directors now isn’t how to get more girls, or where to find chances for them to compete, but how to manage their growth. Clubs are now doubling in size almost annually. Some that began with just a handful of kids five years ago are now up to hundreds. More coaches are needed. More sites are being built.

Opportunities continue to abound.

Just head to the South Bay.

It is, quite literally, impossible to miss.

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