Wasatch Beach Hosts Armed Forces Beach Volleyball Championships

Wasatch Beach was honored to host the 2013 Armed Forces Beach Volleyball Championships, May 3 – 5. Gold medals were won by the All-Army men’s and women’s teams, breaking the Navy’s dominance since the inaugural championships in 2010.

Each service branch entered No. 1 and No. 2 men’s and women’s teams, except the Air Force, which did not send women’s teams to the tournament.

The Army women’s No. 1 team of Capt. Rachael Tax (Fort Bragg, North Carolina) and 1st Lt. Shara DeMarco (Camp Carroll, South Korea) prevailed over the Navy’s No. 1 squad of Lt. j.g. Abbie Merkl (Camp Lejeune, North Carolina) and Lt. j.g. Jesselyn Lavalley (Charleston, South Carolina).

The Army men’s No. 1 team of Army Reserve Sgt. Joe Rossetter (Columbus, Ohio) and Staff Sgt. Lewis Dennis (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington) prevailed over the Navy’s No. 2 team of Lt. Chris Lambert (Naples, Italy) and Seaman Noel Garcia (Islamorado, Florida).

Congratulations to all of the service people who competed. We hope you had a great time playing at Wasatch Beach!

Thanks to Tim Hipps (Installation Management Command) and Ken Polk (U.S. Armed Forces Sports) for their online reporting on this event for the Defense Department, which served as the source for this post.

Play your way into the AVP Salt Lake City Open

When the AVP comes to Salt Lake City for its initial tour stop of the season in August, 16 women’s teams and 16 men’s teams will compete on Saturday and Sunday, August 17 & 18. Eight spots in each draw will be filled by teams who emerge from the Qualifier Tourney that will be conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, August 14 & 15.

The AVP Qualifier will feature a 58-team draw for both women and men. It will be conducted on the courts at Wasatch Beach!

Two of the spots in each qualifier will be filled by Wasatch Beach Volleyball teams. Spots will go to the men’s and women’s winners of the Utah Legends Tourney on July 20th at the Beach. The other spots will go to the Women’s and Men’s Open leaders of the WBV points race as of August 11.

In the event that the Legends winner includes the points leader, next in points line will represent. Teams must play as comprised in the Legends Tourney for that slot. If a Legends winner is not able to play, the next team from the tourney will represent; if the  points leader is not able to play, next in points line gets that slot.

What is the implication of this play-in format? Clearly, you and your team need to play the Tourneys and Leagues leading up to the AVP Qualifier. So get out there and practice and play and have a great time thinking about the possibilities!

Help Us Compile the Definitive History of Beach Volleyball in Utah

It seems like a really appropriate time to record the Utah history of our favorite sport. Knowing that that history is stored in the minds and files of lots of individuals, clearly the best way to accomplish the compilation is through crowdsourcing.

To get started, we want to challenge you to share your earliest remembrances of, and experiences playing, beach volleyball in Utah. To participate in the process: email Mike Manczuk (wasatchbeach@aol.com) or Mark Zimmerman (mark@wasatchbeachvolleyball.com), post on the Wasatch Beach Volleyball facebook page, or leave a reply below.

We’ll create and fill in a timeline as details emerge. Don’t hesitate to send pictures and share your stories about the people and places that define the history of the sport in Utah.

Thanks – this should be fun!

Sand from Reserva Pacuare is now part of Wasatch (World) Beach

Troy Ketterling recently sprinkled a sample of the black sand he discovered at Reserva Pacuare in Costa Rica on Wasatch Beach. In so doing, Troy continued the tradition that began more than ten years ago. Today, Wasatch Beach has sand from more than 20 world beaches. Check out the list on the About page. If you are traveling to a beach that isn’t on the list, please bring back a small sample. Thanks Troy!

Manzo reflects on the 2012 Season at Wasatch Beach

2012 was a season of fun in the sun with friends new and old, all playing inspired volleyball at Wasatch Beach. We have many special people to thank for making this season great, but first let’s take a look back.

Reporting from the Rock Star bar, I was able to watch and call 9 Tournaments and 3 League Sessions in which 329 individual athletes laid it out on the best sand courts in Utah while vying for $15,000 in combined cash, prizes and Oakley bucks paid out over the course of the 2012 season.

The season kicked off on April 28 with the King & Queen of the Beach. The Open division winners were Angela Peterson and Bobby Webb who went on to finish the 2012 season as the number 1 ranked Open players at Wasatch Beach. Both players battled all season; Angela earned 4 first place finishes and Bobby earned 3.

While the Open players are identified here, we recognize all of the divisions in the final rankings elsewhere on the site. So check those out.

Winners in the other 2012 Open Division tourneys and leagues included:

Life’s a Beach Open: Brenda Whicker & Nina Mortensen, Derran Cannon & Joe Hillman
Bump-Set-Chill: Traci Walsh & Angela Peterson, Ryan Beckstrom & Bobby Webb
Sports Mall Classic: Brenda Whicker & Airial Salvo, Derran Cannon & Mike Nelson
Corona Cup: Kyle Smith & Jake Spencer
Utah Legends: Brenda Whicker & Airial Salvo, Neil Birrell & Ryan Beckstrom
Qualifier for the Mother Lode: Brenda Whicker & Nina Mortensen, Derran Cannon & Joe Hillman
King & Queen Closer: Sundi Brown,  Bobby Webb
Wasatch Cup League 1: Traci Walsh & Angela Peterson, Bobby Webb & Troy Ketterling
Wasatch Cup League 2: Sundi Brown & Lori Baird, Jake Spencer & Jared Ellingsworth
Wasatch Cup League 3: Angie Adams & Marti Walker, Kyle Smith & Jake Spencer won under the lights at the first Wasatch Beach night tourney.

The First Annual Coed Open doubles tourney victory went to Angela & Casey Adams.

Check the WBV facebook page for event pictures (and make sure you like the page to get our periodic updates). 

Now for some thank yous, starting with a special thank you to the Wasatch Beach Volleyball board members for their efforts and dedication:

Kiera Roberts – Women’s Player Representative

Brad Schvaneveldt – Men’s A Player Representative and Web site Administrator

Derran Cannon – Men’s Open Player Representative and WBV Pro

Mark Zimmerman – WBV Co-Founder

And what about the new Wasatch Beach Volleyball Web site? Special thanks to Brad Schvaneveldt for creating our beautiful and functional new online home.

Thanks to the staff of The Sports Mall for another year of collaboration and support. Finally, thanks to everyone who came out to play, and to watch and cheer, for making 2012 another season to remember at Wasatch Beach.


Helping Kerri and Misty prepare for London

The Olympic Beach Volleyball competition has begun! On the first day of competition, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor played their first match of pool play. In anticipation of another great Olympics, we asked Mike Nelson to share his recent experience on the sand with the pair. Mike’s report from Huntington Beach follows.

We all know that Kerri and Misty are going for their third straight gold medal in London. They are back-to-back Olympic champions and living legends in the sport of beach volleyball. During their 2004 and 2008 gold medal runs, the pair won 112 consecutive matches, never losing a set during the Beijing Games. In advance, Misty announced that London would be her last run at the Olympics.

I knew that Kerri and Misty had been training against men’s teams to prepare for London. My recent playing partner alerted me that he had set up a session with them, and I was happy to play.

It was fun to see the entourage that comes with a practice with the two most recognizable faces in the sport of beach volleyball. A couple of high school girls were there to retrieve balls and several other girls watched the practice. They also had two coaches there to work with them. Not surprisingly, a number of people watched from the boardwalk and the Huntington Beach pier.

We did several serving and setting drills before we played a couple of games. Needless to say, they were solid in all aspects of the game. Our only advantage was that we were playing on a women’s net, which of course seemed low compared to our usual experience playing on the men’s net. During the practice, the coaches mentioned certain things that they would need to do to win gold in London and that they were there to work on them with our help. As you would expect, they were both very focused. 

Kerri and Misty won gold in the FIVB tournament that followed our workout with them. The tourney was in Gstaad, Switzerland during the second week of July. My partner and I jokingly took some of the credit for the win because of our recent training session. We hope they will win gold in London so that we can continue the great story. 

It was a unique opportunity to meet and train with Misty and Kerri. While the volleyball was really fun, I think my partner and I have had more fun since sharing the experience with other fans, including the Wasatch Beach Volleyball community. I know we all look forward to watching Kerri and Misty during the Olympics, as well as the other 3 U.S. beach volleyball pairs. Go U.S.A.!

Dropping in on The Waupaca Boatride – the world’s largest volleyball tourney

Some of the crowd preparing to watch the grass Open finals

On the second weekend in July, I had the opportunity to spend some time at the annual Waupaca Boatride in my hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The unusual name for this multi-event tourney stems from its history in the resort town of Waupaca, Wisconsin. Oh yeah, in the early days there was apparently an associated boatride. Years ago, the tourney outgrew Waupaca and was moved initially to the larger resort area of Wisconsin Dells, about an hour north of Madison. Then, two years ago the event was relocated to Oshkosh. This year, it was played on the grounds of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), adjacent to the Oshkosh airport.

Also new this year was an affiliation with the NVL, increased prize money, and the construction of 4 sand courts on the EAA grounds to host the Women’s and Men’s Open Divisions. Out of necessity, the Women’s and Men’s A divisions were held offsite at a local sports bar. Vooli, Plastic and Oakley were at the event getting the word out.

The Waupaca Boatride, which is also called the U.S. Open of Grass Volleyball, consists of a number of events:

• Butch (father of Misty) May’s clinic for young women prior to the start of the tourney
• Sand doubles and co-ed grass 4s on Friday
• Grass 3s on Saturday (the single biggest event)
• Grass doubles, co-ed sand doubles and reverse co-ed grass 4s on Sunday

More than 900 teams were expected, spanning all of the events. While most of the draw is from the upper Midwest, some teams travel from the coasts for the party, which is in many ways a huge reunion. As you can see from the accompanying images of the finals of the Open sand doubles and grass 3s, the crowd was big, highly engaged, and very sociable. Many of the teams camped on the EAA grounds for part or all of the weekend.

On the sand in Men’s Open, top-seeded pros Dana Camacho and Andrei Belov were upset in the finals by Brian and Tim Bomgren. Impressively, the Bomgrens and their partner were also top seeds in the grass 3s event on Saturday, but lost in the finals to the team they had beaten to win that division last year. In the Women’s Open, Chara Harris and Megan Wallin defeated Laryssa Mereszczak and Andrea Peterson. All four teams earned an automatic entry into the MotherLode on Labor Day weekend, so if you’re traveling to Aspen, keep an eye out for these teams.

Watching the Women's Open sand finals

At least two of the teams that competed in the Open sand division traveled Friday night to compete on Saturday in the Jose Cuervo Tour Stop in Chicago. It was a big weekend for volleyball in the Midwest.

The Waupaca Boatride is a tourney to put on your volleyball bucket list and one to keep an eye on, particularly given the new affiliation with the NVL.

Big crowd for the grass Open finals on Saturday night

Watch the Channel 2 Sports video from Wasatch Beach on YouTube

Last year, David James from Channel 2 Sports filmed and aired a great piece of video at Wasatch Beach. In the video, Linda Byington, Nina Mortensen and Mike Manczuk all do a great job describing our shared sports passion. The video segment is timeless so we brought it back via YouTube.  

In response to David’s question at the end of the segment, we want everyone to know about this great sport and the best place in Utah to play. So, we encourage you to share the YouTube video.  

Thanks again to David James and Channel 2 Sports!

NCAA Division I Women’s Sand Volleyball – Update – 2013 Results

During the first week of May, the 2013 women’s sand volleyball championships were held in Gulf Shores, Alabama. This year, Long Beach State (#2 seed) beat defending champion and top-seeded Pepperdine in a 5-set final. Check out the promo video for the event.

The number of Division I schools that offer women’s sand volleyball grew this near to nearly 30. We’re keeping an eye on the AVCA’s list of participating schools, and those that have expressed interest in adding the sport. It looks like the threshold of 40 Division I schools needed to offer an NCAA Championship in the sport will be met or exceeded in 2014. That is exciting news. So far, there are two Utah schools on the list: Utah Valley University (D1) and Dixie State College (D2).

On the AVCA sand site, there is mention of a name change for the sport next year, as well. From “sand” to “beach” volleyball? We’ll see.