May 14, 2022, Hermosa Beach, CA - There were few who were surprised when, last Sunday afternoon, the USC beach volleyball team sprinted into the teal waters of Gulf Shores, Alabama, celebrating its second consecutive NCAA Championship. The Trojan lineup was loaded, top to bottom.
And while few ever root for the heavy favorites to win, there was also no shortage of individuals with no dog in the NCAA fight who enjoyed every minute of watching the NCAA Championship. Chris Brown was one of them.
Long the director of Hermosa Beach-based CBVAs, Brown had seen virtually every athlete in Gulf Shores compete well before any of them had signed a letter of intent, well before any of them had received their first recruiting letter, well before any of them even knew how to hand set.
“It’s been going on for years now, but watching the girls' National Championship in Alabama, I knew almost every girl,” Brown said. “There are more kids that come up from different parts of the country, but most of them, especially the really good ones, find their way out here and play in at least one of my tournaments. Most of them I know really well and saw them coming up from 10 and 11 years old. That was really fun for me.”
Tournaments, like the Two-Star he is putting on this weekend, are the primary avenue through which Brown is introduced to future stars such as Sammy Slater and Megan Kraft, Devon Newberry and Jaden Whitmarsh, Brook Bauer and Jordan Polo. He gets to see them all, right in his front yard at the Hermosa Beach Pier.
“Kids are trying to work their way up,” he said of the CBVA’s massive exposure to future talents. “This weekend, you’ll see some kids who are super raw, maybe some kids getting their first exposure to beach volleyball, but then also you’ll see kids who have been playing for a long time and are really great players who are looking to win a bid to National Championships.”
This tournament, while the biggest in the country, alongside Two-Star events in Westerly, Rhode Island, and Spring Hill, Tennessee, is actually one of Brown’s smaller ones on the beach. It conflicts with several indoor club tournaments, which actually doesn’t dilute the value of it, but perhaps even enhances it.
“I’ll still have a great tournament,” Brown said. “It’s a great opportunity for some of these teams to swoop in and enter a big tournament and get a bid to National Championships.”
Bids are on the line all over the United States this weekend. Thirty-eight organizations across America – in Oklahoma, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, South Carolina, California, New Mexico, New York, and Rhode Island – are hosting tournaments in which there are bids to National Championships on the line.
So if there are a few athletes who might have indoor obligations this weekend?
There’s plenty more with beach opportunities.
~ Travis Mewhirter: @trammew