Beach volleyball is a serious sport from island to mainland
A volleyball eclipsed the sun as a strong breeze came off the Gulf of Mexico. Players lunged forward to block it from hitting the ground, only to have an opponent spike it hard in the sand.
Beach volleyball has a casual, fun reputation and it also has a serious, competitive side. The organized sport only has two players on a team, giving athletes more opportunities to connect with the ball.
“It’s definitely not for the faint of heart,” said Michelle Profitt, coach of the Ball High School girls volleyball team in Galveston.
“One benefit is it’s a whole lot nicer to dive into sand than an indoor court,” Profitt said.
When her team’s indoor season ends, the beach season begins. The Galveston girls play volleyball all year long, Profitt said.
Beach volleyball grew so popular that it has cropped up in places that don’t have beaches.
League City has six sand courts for beach volleyball players at Chester L. Davis Sportsplex. At least 200 adults play in League City as part of the Gulf Coast Volleyball Association.
Travis Clifford, who grew up playing beach volleyball, is a coach and a recruiter for the association.
“If you are just getting started, join a league,” Clifford said.
Recreational divisions welcome beginners and even have tournaments for them.
Mike Miksich, a former professional beach volleyball player, also coaches players in the Gulf Coast Volleyball Association. He’s played since the 1990s, when beach volleyball became an Olympic sport and a National Collegiate Athletic Association sport.
“After indoor volleyball became more visible, beach volleyball rode on that wave,” Miksich said. “They were in the same ZIP code but not the same neighborhood.”
Galveston was a hub of beach volleyball mania in the mid 1980s, and Miksich has the shredded knees and ankles to prove it, he said.
The American Volleyball Tournament came to Galveston in 1989, part of a big tour with big sponsors, Miksich said. Later tournaments were in Houston on man-made sand courts.
The professionalization of beach volleyball changed the rules because televised events had to fit certain time slots, he said. The courts got shorter.
“It changed the entire landscape of the game,” Miksich said.
An outdoor volleyball has thicker leather so it can fly better and connect in players’ hands. The net is 32 feet long and is more durable than inside nets with heavier stitching on the top side.
But people still play volleyball with their families just for fun and not for serious stakes. All you need to play is a net and a ball.
The volleyball courts in front of Stewart Beach Pavilion in Galveston are open for anyone to play, Manager Tony Andrisek, said. All it takes is extracting a net from the inside of a pole and stretching it across to the other one.
“You just bring the volleyballs,” Andrisek said.