In 1997, there were six, maybe seven, countries with beach volleyball coaches for their national teams. One of them had never coached beach volleyball.
Jeff Alzina’s background in volleyball was almost entirely indoor at that point of his life. All of his coaching experience had come in a gym and as a player, his success was minimal, having made just one AVP main draw, in Chicago of 1992. But he still trained with the top guys, setting up drills and competitive practices, making it so that his “biggest experience [on the beach] wasn’t necessarily competing at a high level, but training at a high level,” he said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter.
Being the practice guy everyone turned to paid off far more than being one of the top guys there to practice.
In September of 1997, the FIVB held a stop in Los Angeles, at the UCLA tennis center. Not long prior, Athens had been awarded the bid to the 2004 Summer Olympics, meaning Greece would have a bid for a beach volleyball team. Only, they didn’t have a team to send. So a few Greek representatives went to the U.S., then the unquestioned beach volleyball powerhouse of the world, for the FIVB at UCLA to recruit someone who could launch their beach program. It would have to be someone young, preferably without a family, seeing as they’d have to relocate to Greece. Someone crazy enough to take on a beach volleyball program without a single beach volleyball player on the roster.
Someone like Jeff Alzina.
Read the rest of the story, and listen to the podcast, at VolleyballMag.com!
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