JUNE 7, 2022, MUSKEGON, MI - Somewhere in Grand Rapids, Michigan, likely stuffed in a cabinet or pinned on a cork board somewhere in Logan Webber’s mom’s house, is a pair of $20 bills. They’re old, those bills, and won’t get you all that far today. But like those dollars you’ll see hanging behind cash registers or enshrined in a case at restaurants, there’s a significance and value there that cannot be overstated.
Those were the first dollars Logan Webber won playing beach volleyball.
“It was the first time somebody had given me money for beach volleyball,” Webber said. “I think they’re still somewhere in my mom’s house. I can vividly remember – I basically just got my entry fee back but I felt so cool.”
He’s come a long way from Grand Rapids, Webber. No longer is he winning A-rated tournaments against a handful of teams in Michigan. He’s traveling the world, winning a silver medal in Greece on May 22 with Miles Evans, taking a fifth in Mexico with Tim Brewster on May 15. One of the top-ranked blockers on the AVP, Webber set a career-high with a fifth-place finish in Austin, Texas, with John Hyden.
This week, when the AVP comes to Muskegon, the beach on which Webber first began playing beach volleyball, his career will come full circle in a way. This is the beach on which he groveled in B tournaments as a 12- or 13-year-old. This is where he won a handful of junior medals that are still dangling from his mom’s rearview mirror. This is where he could very well set another career-high on the AVP Tour.
“It’s kinda crazy to go from, basically since I started playing volleyball, there has never been a tournament in Michigan worth more than $1,000 for first and $500 for second,” Webber said. “That’s been the highest. And even for those, the most teams we’ve had for a men’s top division has been maybe 20? So it’s crazy to go from no big tournaments to all of a sudden, here’s the third-highest level tournament you can get.
“It’s going to be weird for me to go back and see all of you guys and everybody I know in Muskegon where that’s basically where I started playing.”
This weekend’s AVP Tour Series, as expected, blew well past the previous unofficial record of 20 teams that Webber mentioned. When registration closed, there were 56 men’s teams signed up and another 34 women. Sixteen of those teams for each gender will be seeded directly into the main draw; for those that do not make it out of Friday’s qualifier, there’s a stay and play AVP America event with a $1,000 purse per gender.
“Even the stay and play tournament has a $1,000 purse, which is still larger than any other tournament I’ve seen in Michigan,” Webber said, laughing.
The beach, too, will be teeming with juniors, coming into town from all corners of the country for the second stop on the AVP Juniors Tour. Currently, 15 juniors are registered for what could become an annual visit to Muskegon, and what was an annual visit from 1998-2001 for the AVP.
For the first time since 2009, when Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers defeated a young Brad Keenan and Nick Lucena in the finals, the AVP is returning to Muskegon. It’s doing so with the debut event of the Tour Series, the third tier of its newly restructured system, with a 24-team main draw and $50,000 in prize money.
“It’s going to be cool to see what they do with these Tour level events,” Webber said. “I’m super interested to see if they’re going to be like the AVPNext Gold Series were last year in terms of production.”
~ Travis Mewhirter: @trammew