Greenville may not have a beach, but the local beach volleyball scene is growing.
A few participants shared what they like about the sport -- and why you should like it, too.
David Perkins, Certified Beach Volleyball Coach with USA Volleyball
Q. How long have you been playing beach volleyball?
A. Since 1990, when I was living in the Virginia Beach area. There was 10 courts set up on the beach and we would play pick-up games from morning to night. I moved to Iowa in 1995 and just played in indoor leagues. Then in 2000, we moved to Greenville. I was looking to play volleyball in this area and there wasn't a lot of playing going on for adults. My daughter started to play indoor volleyball in 2003, so I started helping her and coaching her teams. When we couldn't get an indoor court, we would go to the sand court. We were out there a lot and started to meet other people that liked to play. Also through the Carolina Region of USA Volleyball I started to find tournaments and other people that played outdoor volleyball. By 2006, we started to have a steady group of players that would get together a couple of times a week.
Q. What about the sport appeals to you?
A. This is just a fun sport. You're outside. It's also one of the most challenging sports that I do. You need to be good at all the volleyball skills: passing, setting, hitting, blocking and serving. There's just two people covering the court compared to 6 people indoors. It's harder to move in the sand. Even though you have to work harder playing on the sand, it's a low-impact sport. You don't have to wear ankle braces or worry about those types of injuries and soreness related to the impact of playing indoor. This allows you to play this sport well into your adult life.
Q. How long have you been coaching beach volleyball?
A. Since about 2005. I started by bringing my indoor team out to the sand court to practice and we would play doubles and the kids loved it. We trained specifically for beach volleyball and would compete in tournaments.
Q. What are the age groups of the players you coach?
A. Juniors ages 10 to 18. I also teach the game to young and older adults.
Q. Where do you play locally?
A. We train and play at the local Sonic Drive-In. There's a court at the Teen Center. Ayden has two sand courts just off Hwy 11. The North Rec Complex has two courts. There's a lot of apartment complexes in Greenville that have sand courts. I think if we had a sand court complex of 4 or more courts it would grow the sport of beach volleyball.
Q. Where are tournaments held?
A. The closest tournaments are held in New Bern, Apex, Triangle area and Wilmington. There are also tournaments held in Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Greensboro and Charlotte. Two good websites to find tournaments are volleyamerica.com and carolinaregionvb.org
Q. How can someone who is interested get involved?
A. So, we have a local FaceBook Group for the adults (18 and older), it's Greenville, NC Volleyball. Just ask to join. We post when and where we are going to play
If you are a junior between 10 and 18 and are interested, you can have your parents send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm a certified Beach Volleyball Coach with USA Volleyball, so I go through the background checks and coaches training every year.
Q. How did you start the J.H. Rose High School Beach Volleyball Team?
A. North Carolina (the NCHSSVA) has been running the High School Beach competitions for a few years. There are five divisions in North Carolina.
I've been trying to get our local high schools into this sport. We just didn't have enough players to represent their high school. You have to have at least 6 players or three teams to compete. The other factor is it a spring sport and a lot of the players are still playing and competing in Junior Olympic indoor volleyball.
Our number of juniors playing beach in the summer continued to grow and we were able to put it together for J.H. Rose High School and we had 5 teams compete. This was our first year and we did really well at of of our competitions. We were second overall in our Eastern Division and made the State playoffs for team and best pair. That's a good start. Most of our players are freshman, so they are just going to get better.
Junior beach volleyball players and their mother
Savannah Davenport, age 15:
"I started playing beach volleyball when I was 12 years old with Coach David Perkins. I play indoor volleyball, but beach volleyball is like a totally different sport. I love that it's a more laid-back atmosphere."
Hailey Davenport, age 11:
"I started playing beach volleyball when I was 8 because I saw my sister play. I love that there are only two people and you get more contacts on the ball. Coach Perkins always encourages me and makes beach volleyball fun."
Heather Davenport, beach volleyball mom:
"My oldest daughter started playing beach volleyball after indoor travel volleyball to stay busy in the off-season. She is now playing her 4th season and my youngest is in her 2nd season. My girls take the sport just as seriously as they do indoor volleyball. To be successful on the beach, you don't have the be the biggest, strongest or most athletic. You can win with finesse and consistency. It's a simple game; no choreographing offense or defense. Either you or your partner makes the play -- there's no other option. With the recent success of beach volleyball in the Olympics, the popularity will continue to grow. I'm just happy my family is a part of it."