Highline Arena, where roller hockey (yes, roller hockey) and beach volleyball go together

Highline Arena, where roller hockey (yes, roller hockey) and beach volleyball go together

March 4, 2022, Aberdeen Township, NJ – Chris Gosha is, as he says, a "man of many hats" in his present season of life. One day he's running a roller hockey league. The next, an 80-team cornhole tournament. Floor hockey, too, is in the mix. In between that odd menagerie of sports and activities, Gosha is overseeing one of the most popular beach volleyball facilities in the state of New Jersey, Highline Arena, which runs in tandem with, yes, roller and floor hockey and cornhole and whatever other manner of sport he can imagine.

"We look at it as, 'What can we do to make as much income as we can in the space that we have?'" said Gosha, who is the general manager of Highline Arena, located in Aberdeen Township, New Jersey. "The bulk of our business is roller hockey and beach volleyball – those are our two main sports."

This weekend, no one is putting on a bigger juniors beach volleyball tournament than Gosha, who is running the only AVP America 2-Star tournament. Twenty-three total teams, at the time of this writing, have registered between the 18U, 16U, and 14U divisions. The 18U is led by top-seeded Ava Novello and Maddie Lecik, 16U by Chloe Wiedman and Caitlin Cabrales, and 14U by Karolina Kolpak and Soleil Kauer. And while Highline is putting on the only 2-Star of the weekend, there is no doubt that it is also throwing the only tournament on what was formerly an indoor soccer field.

Yes, it's an altogether unique setup in Aberdeen Township. For years, the main attraction at Highline was its indoor soccer fields. But when the turf business began booming on the East Coast, and the market for indoor soccer began to spread thin, Gosha sought other alternatives to bring athletes and parents to the facility. Problem solved when AVP America Executive Director Wayne Gant gave him a call.

What if you took those indoor soccer fields, threw some sand over them, and turned them into beach volleyball courts?

And so it was that three feet of sand were dumped on top of the turf, and Gosha was now overseeing an indoor beach volleyball facility, a supreme attraction given the cold weather in the fall, winter, and early spring. Now, suddenly, athletes could play beach volleyball year-round.

The numbers have predictably exploded.  "I've been in the indoor sports industry for over 20-plus years, and the beach scene is just amazing with the number of people who play and want to play," Gosha said. "It's fun to be a part of something, building it from the ground up and seeing it start to thrive. We didn't get our wheels rolling until the fall of 2019 and we had almost instant success. That first season we had 70-80 teams, which started from zero. Every season we've always increased our numbers pretty large. Now we're looking at ideas on how we can change game formats so we can have more games and more leagues."

While Highline is host to the only 2-Star this weekend, there are nine other 1-Stars being held across the country.

Nona Sports, in Orlando, Fla. is being led by Gianna Rivera and Liana DeNona in the 18U Division, Allie Burroughs and Gracie McClain in 16U, and Skye Douglass and Kayla Pita in 14U. Grit Volleyball, based out of Dulles, Virginia, is helmed by Mae Henning and Laurel Brade in the 16U Division, with Nola Murphy and Sadee Gedse close behind.

Seeding is not yet established for the Vollis Jungle Tour Junior Series, being held in Ozark, Missouri. The same goes for a March 5 tournament being held at Hyden Beach; Project Serve in Austin, Texas; Legacy Sports Complex in Mesa, Arizona; ASC Sand in Cedar Park, Texas; and Dig the Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"We're excited," Gosha said. "This is our third time running an event like this. It's just nice to see the junior players come out. We're super excited for it and having teams qualify for Nationals is awesome."

~ Travis Mewhirter: @trammew