Sand Storm

What’s happening right here? Has the quintessential California game become one other suggest, cash-grubbing online game, a garish forum for hawking shades, beer and egos? Has the laid-back beach scene develop into nothing than an overhyped industry for an ever brasher enjoyment elegant?


before it shed its bohemian ties in the late ’70s, the suggestion of seashore volleyball as a supply of paychecks, gold medals and proceedings would were ludicrous. The online game originated near the Santa Monica Pier in the roaring ’20s, invented by using solar worshipers unschooled in the subculture of american stoicism–or footwear. They have been enjoyable-loving sand lizards and surfers who performed while the waves built, the burgers cooked and the beer chilled. Rewards came within the kind of of T-shirts and six-packs. once in ages, a beach boy received a college scholarship to play the century-old tough-court docket edition of the game, an Olympic game on the grounds that 1964.

Volleyball legends like Ron Von Hagen, normal to play from sunup to sundown, by no means dreamed of taking part on a country wide tour. Von Hagen changed into near retirement in 1974 when prize money turned into first awarded–a whopping $1.”500. but through the late ’80s, the AVP tour had increased to 25 routine in seven states, Sinjin Smith became raking in prize cash that had leapfrogged to six figures, and television had hit the seaside. soon, wonder boy Randy Stoklos would hit the $1-million mark in profession profits.

To take care of heady new enterprise realities, the AVP, and later the WPVA, had been fashioned as player-owned and -operated entities. each and every neighborhood hired an executive director, but the board individuals, all athletes, ruled every little thing from the dimension of the purses to the scope of administration contracts. It become a lot of balls to balance within the air.

no longer extraordinarily, as fortunes grew, so did egos–and sniping over the cut of the pie. business and personal family members begun to intertwine, making a fellow mattress for suspicion and distrust. As one example of the unsettling incestuous ties, insiders factor to the long-term relationship of Holly McPeak and Leonard Armato, an AVP govt director grew to become tremendous-agent who represents athletes akin to Shaquille O’Neal–and McPeak. ultimate yr, Armato served as a expert to his lady friend’s unraveling WPVA tour, a incontrovertible fact that a number of feminine athletes say changed into a battle of hobby. Armato insists his attachment to McPeak has in no way influenced sponsorship decisions.

another identify that incites venom is Gabrielle Reece, world-classification splendor, brilliant athlete, fitness queen and magnet of adulation and attention from sponsors and spectators. right here’s the trap: “Gabby” competes within the more recent, 4-player edition of the game, which is rarely an Olympic sport and does not engender massive bucks. even though the fours inarguably demands less skill than the pairs, some say it’s definitely livelier and greater fun to monitor. Many pairs gamers and promoters now not most effective brush aside Reece as an athlete but also charge her and her supervisor, Jane Kachmer, with hogging the entire consideration and sucking the game dry.

4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0ed,How am i able to phrase this accurately? Gabby is a really touchy subject,” says Chris Schaefer, a desirable pairs player and former WPVA president,She’s a good advertising tool for women’s volleyball. but she may be extra positive. She wants too a great deal of the pie. lamentably, it’s destroying us.”

Reece is weary of her position as scapegoat. “individuals are pissed off, so it’s convenient to return after me. i’m probably the most visible. We’re all competing for sponsors and tv hours, and or not it’s a bummer. but if considered one of us sinks, every person sink. i would do the rest to assist grow the activity. i’d go disco dancing in Saran Wrap if it might aid.”

until Usher reduce AVP prize money ultimate winter to slow financial hemorrhaging, the stakes in pro seaside volleyball had grown very excessive, however only for the appropriate dozen or so on a typical sixty four-player tour. The elite–the Holly McPeaks and Karolyn Kirbys, the Karch Kiralys and Kent Steffeses–earned six- and even seven-determine annual incomes, including endorsement deals, while reduce-ranked however still scorching opponents comparable to Chris younger pulled in five figures, if that.