Beach volleyball spikes in popularity
Kirsten Kubicek has always loved beach volleyball and now her students are developing that same love, she said.
“I think it’s something different for them and I’m sure for them right now it feels a little bit more relaxed,” said Kubicek, the director of beach volleyball at Dickinson-based Absolute Volleyball Academy of Texas.
The sport is a relatively new one for many school-aged kids because it’s only recently been added as a sport in colleges, she said.
But it’s quickly becoming popular among the 8- to 18-year-old students she coaches at Absolute Volleyball, she said.
“In indoor right now, you feel a little bit more pressure because there’s five other people on the court you have to help,” Kubicek said.
As opposed to the six-member teams of indoor volleyball, beach volleyball teams play in pairs.
“It’s a little bit more time for them to just play and enjoy their passion and their love for the game,” Kubicek said.
That’s also a reason Travis Clifford’s students enjoy beach volleyball, he said.
Clifford, the beach team and junior league director at the Gulf Coast Volleyball Association, grew up playing beach volleyball, he said.
“I like how relaxing it is,” Clifford said. “I like that it’s outdoors. I like that it’s on sand so you can dive and move around.”
Last year, the association’s junior league signed up 90 students, he said.
“Ever since they added it as a sport in college, there’s been a lot more interest for the kids to move from indoor to outdoor,” Clifford said.
Students who might not be able to get a scholarship at indoor volleyball have an opportunity through beach volleyball, he said.
Since the association was established in 1992, the beach volleyball program has grown in popularity, said Victor Clifford, club director and Travis’ father.
Every year, the association holds tournaments at East Beach in Galveston, which has 20 permanent sand volleyball courts, he said.
“The most nets we have used is 35 a couple of years ago,” Clifford said.
The sport also is becoming popular among adults who play in leagues around the county, he said.
Playing on the sand builds different skills than playing on a court, Kubicek said.
“One of the biggest transitions you have to make when you switch from indoor to outdoor is dealing with the wind,” Kubicek said. “The wind does direct the ball. You have to have even better ball control.”
Players have to become more versatile since there are only two team members, which can help students develop their indoor skills, she said.
“It definitely develops a higher volleyball IQ,” Kubicek said.
Global exposure to sand volleyball has grown with the success of American athletes like Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, who won gold as a team in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics,
She sees the sport’s popularity growing, she said.
For Kubicek, volleyball is a peaceful, relaxing activity, she said.
“I love the water and I love to be outside,” Kubicek said. “I’d rather be outside by the water any day. It’s something that I’m good at.”