For those quick passerby’s who may not have consistent exposure to the sport of beach volleyball our sport piques interest. I find myself consistently hearing oo’s and ah’s from atop the concrete barrier that you’ll find adjacent to the courts at Main Beach Santa Cruz. These quick passerby’s capture a glimpse of magic as they see players sprawl out into acrobatic dives and attempt to control high speed attacks. For a short time, they are enamored, but they are not privy to the aspect of beach volleyball that really makes it special, the people.

Unlike southern California, Northern California does not have beach volleyball tournaments on every other beach along the coastline, but instead we have a concentrated tight knit community that is funneled into the Santa Cruz area and Monterey Bay.  This unique atmosphere has been a really fun place for us to learn and develop our game.

There is a surprising amount of talent to choose from in NorCal. To say that my partner, Kacey Losik, and I are the best would be to vastly understate the talent that surrounds us. We can hang with the best of them for sure, but there are a plethora of skilled players around to learn from and train with.  Kacey and I don’t train in the most traditional fashion. I work full time as an insurance agent with Farmers and coach a beach club named IMUA in Monterey and Kacey is a high school student just finishing his senior season of indoor high school volleyball. We rarely actually play together outside of the AVP’s.

We both grew up playing at Rio Del Mar Beach so we will head down there in the evenings, maybe do a few drills and discuss some strategies.  Other than that, we encourage each other to play as much as possible and go enjoy the game.  One day I may be playing fours with the how shall we put it, “seasoned” players up at the private court affectionately named the Dome, all the while Kacey may be training at the Stanford courts with some top-level talent (or vice versa). By playing with so many different people and styles, we become accustomed to change and fairly adept at figuring out every volleyball players ultimate goal of how to side out. Austin will be a good litmus test for us to see what areas we can improve and what direction our practices should take us.

Even with our unique style of training and endless energy that we expend towards our pursuit of beach volley proficiency, every team understands that the qualifiers are no picnic. There are hefty financial costs and no guarantees.  We were incredibly lucky to receive support from SANDCAST for this event and we want to give a big shout out to Travis, Tri and their sponsors for doing such a great job promoting the sport and for the support that they have given us.

That being said, even with some financial help the cost to compete in the qualifiers are still high. Between taking time off from work and school plus hotels, food etc. there is a lot on the line, and with such high stakes Kacey and I must ensure that we have the upmost confidence in each other. Kacey is in high school, but I trust that his athleticism, intuition for the game and endless time that he spends on the beach honing his craft will lead to solid decisions in crunch time situations.

One week I’m watching Kacey get a stuff block on a top twenty team in the world and the next I’m watching him play his high school playoff match with kids his own age.  This hilarious dichotomic exposure to all levels of volleyball and his genuine joy of just being around the sport is what gives me confidence that I am competing with the right guy. We will approach Austin like we approach all the other events, with confidence and a positive outlook.

Here’s to always hoping for the best.