Myrtle Beach, SC, March 19, 2022 - It took quite the confluence of events for Myrtle Beach to land itself squarely on the beach volleyball map. There was an abnormally large man, a skinny kid with quicksilver feet, a construction gig, and a talented player who happened to be in the right place, at the right time.
Some might call it fate. Others might just laugh at the absurdity of it all.
For there was a young Phil Dalhausser, a 6-foot-9 yet-to-be-discovered thin beast, working at a construction site in Florida when he wasn't playing beach volleyball tournaments on the weekends with an unknown named Nick Lucena. And there was Adam Roberts, a professional beach volleyball player who lived in Myrtle Beach and played in virtually every tournament he could up and down the coast.
Roberts and his roommate and good friend, Matt Heath, needed a few training partners up in Myrtle. Would Phil and Nick want to move up there, live in Roberts' guest house, and train and play beach volleyball, all day long?
Lucena was in. Dalhausser had to think it over. His parents wanted him to put his education to use. Get a job. Start making money. Climb the career path. He was even leaning in that direction, Dalhausser, until one day, he went to pull his chair to the desk and smashed his knees into the wood.
Phil Dalhausser, at a desk job? No, no. Phil Dalhausser was meant to play beach volleyball.
And thus Dalhausser and Lucena moved to Myrtle Beach, laying the foundation for two of the greatest American players of this generation.
Like those two prodigious talents, Myrtle has come a long way since the early 2000s, when Dalhausser and Lucena were in their early-20s, before either had won an AVP or been to an Olympics. Aside from the court at Roberts' house, there were just three courts in the city, and there was a severe dearth of high-level players, which was why Roberts had to implore Dalhausser and Lucena to move there.
Now, Myrtle Beach is hosting the biggest juniors tournament of the weekend, with six total divisions filling out 12 immaculate courts on the boardwalk. There are three divisions of girls and another three of boys, something Club Director and tournament director Joe Goodwin, known to most as Coach Goody, is especially fired up about.
"We got a bunch of teams coming from all over," Goodwin said. "We got a bunch of boys signed up which is exciting. We're really growing here in Myrtle Beach. We started with three courts at the boardwalk, now we have 12 courts which is super exciting, putting courts on the beach as well. It's great to see beach volleyball growing here in Myrtle Beach, very exciting."
Leading the boys seeding in the 18U division is Blake Goodwin and August Brittain, Connor Kadnar and Christopher Schwenker, and Mason Kenna and Aidan Clifton. The 16U is helmed by Caleb Harrison and Cody Harrison, Jacob Johnson and Miles Ginesi, and Benji Andexler and Aiden Kenna. And the 14U is led by Wyatt Turner and Alex Nikolov, Briggs LeCroy and Coleman Wheatley, and Jack Chappelear and Elijah DeVore.
The girls' side, meanwhile, is led by Kenzie Murphy and Nicole De Oliveira, Nya Coury and Ryan Lambert, and Corina Vale and Zoe Duggan in the 18U division. The 16U is topped by Ella Wadsworth and Hailey Amber, Bella Loeswick and Lilly Loeswick, and Masyn McClanahan and Alexis Jodie. In the 14U division, seeding is headed by Makenzie Trisler and Tehila Cohen, Lucy Murphy and Marlena Heim, and Riley Parker and Lilly Coletta.
While Myrtle Beach is the lone 2-Star of the weekend, 1-Stars are being hosted all over the nation: S.B. Volleyball in Tavares, Florida; Two Legit Volleyball in Miami; First Coast Volleyball in Jacksonville, 210 Beach in San Antonio; BeachVB in Santa Cruz; iBeach31 in Greenfield, Indiana; Beach Elite in Huntington Beach, California; 692 Beach in Lewisville, Texas; Panama Jack Summer Slam in Panama City Beach, Florida; Grit Volleyball in Dulles, Virginia; Blue Sky Volleyball in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; UMR Sports in Bradenton, Florida; and Austin Junior Volleyball Sand in Cedar Park, Texas.
"It's just going to be a fun-filled weekend of volleyball," Goodwin said.
A weekend where nobody will be smashing knees into desks – but one in which the next Dalhausser and Lucena could be playing.
~ Travis Mewhirter: @trammew
Photo by Richard Heiles (Siesta Key Beach, FL, 2004)