Tidewater Volleyball Association took a different approach when the club created their Juniors Beach Division, named 757 Beach. Over the past 10 years, as Kristina Wojieck-Stein observed the club landscape, she saw several different models of trying to merge the two ‘sports’:
- indoor clubs trying to shorten their club season and switching to a beach season
- clubs trying to follow the same model as indoor to create a beach club
- beach clubs that only trained but coaches did not travel
- clubs that would only focus on the elite players and would only travel to high level tournaments
TVA’s mission statement is to promote, in all ways possible, the development of volleyball, and that led Tidewater down their own path when they made the decision truly to add a beach program. The club leadership knew that in order to stay true to their mission they needed to offer beach youth training year around and COVID actually helped during the club’s growing stages.
“When I accepted the position of Executive Director in November of 2018, one of the first questions I asked was, ‘We live at the beach and have an indoor beach facility. Why do we not have a year round youth beach component?” said Wojieck-Stein.
She was faced with two main problems:
1) The first, was finding a coach that had the time to commit to a year round beach component. TVA had attempted to have a youth beach component and even had some National Beach Champions, but it become a sustainable product.
2). The second problem was and it still is to this day, the calendar for indoor volleyball. Nationally the indoor club season goes through July, in addition, club tryouts in our area are, also, in July. Not to mention, that youth beach volleyball also competes for time from all the indoor college camps, high school training sessions and even the high school season itself.
When COVID hit one of Tidewater’s goals was to keep the youth active and involved at a time when everyone was nervous about playing sports. Beach volleyball became more appealing because it was outside where masking wasn’t mandatory, and it was offered in smaller groups settings. Instead of needing 12 players to compete, the club only needed 4 or 8 , doubles and quads. Everyone felt comfortable with those parameters.
Wojieck-Stein had the opportunity to hire Matt McLaren as TVA’s Juniors Beach Coordinator in the summer of 2020. Matt was an avid beach player and a Penn State Alumni. She offered him a part time position at 20 hours a week, and the club’s year-round juniors beach volleyball program was born.
TVA offered a training/league concept where each training block would come and train for 45 minutes. The majority of the athletes did not know how to move in the sand, so there was a focus on that aspect, along with a two match guarantee after the training session. Over 120 female and male athletes participated. This was the beginning of 757 Beach.
From there, players started falling in love with the sport and making the decision not to play high school and/or indoor club.
“We never asked them to make this decision, it kind of comes naturally for the players to want to commit to beach volleyball. Although numbers were still small throughout the indoor club season, we had a strong core to start,” added Wojieck-Stein.
Looking at the calendar, it made sense for 757 Beach to have 3 Seasons/Sessions. Which the club named: Holiday, Spring and Summer.
- Holiday Session: End of High School Season/November 1st – February. Coaches Travel to one National Tournament.
- Spring Session: March – May. Coaches Travel to one National Tournament
- Summer Session: June – August. Coaches Travel to two National Tournaments
TVA hosts Beach Indoor and Oceanfront Tournaments all year round. The beach coaches will also coach in two additional local tournaments. The club’s 5 court indoor sand facility allows 757 Beach to offer and host year round beach tournaments. 757 Beach and Club 757 (indoor) are both under the TVA umbrella. which has allows the club to control their juniors’ beach and juniors’ indoor schedule. The club plans the juniors beach tournaments around the larger indoor club tournaments.
“This partnership ultimately benefits the families and the players. We see the cross training advantages and it allows for the younger players to do both, until they decide to focus on one.”
Today, 757 Beach offers two year round training pods: Girls College Prep Training Pod and the younger/less skilled players participate in the Neptune Program. Girls College Training Pod trains 2-3 times a week depending on the calendar and the season and Neptune (Co-Ed) only trains once a week.
Cost (Varies by the number of weeks the program takes place):
Neptune 1 practice/week for 90 minutes. Cost is $150-$350 per session.
Advanced: 2 practices/week for 2 hours. Cost is $900-$1500 per session.
3 practices/week for 2 hour. Cost is $1200-$1800 per session.
Practices for Neptune are always at the indoor beach facility
Practices for Advanced are outside on the oceanfront as much as possible during spring and summer. 757 Beach uses their indoor facility in the winter and beginning of spring season.
Winter- 3 Head coaches and 2 Assistant Coaches
Summer- 5 Head Coaches 5 Assistant Coaches
*Varies based on the number of participants
View the beach program income statement here. (Note: a member login is required to view this information).
During the Summer 757 Beach extends the training block session to still include both training and a playing component. Additionally, the club offers an Advanced Boys Training Pod only in the summer due to the overlap of boys playing indoor.
Having both clubs, indoor and sand, working hand in hand together definitely has its advantages and it takes the pressure off of the families and athletes to have to make a decision. Starting a beach program definitely presents its challenges, and what worked for TVA may not work for everyone.
“TVA’s goal has always been to create programs that will benefit our athletes best, and by sticking to the mission to promote and grow the sport of volleyball to all, 757 Beach gives us this opportunity.”
About the Author
Kris Wojieck-Stein is the Executive Director of Tidewater Volleyball Association, a JVA member club located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. TVA was established in 1965 as a non profit organization, and is one of the oldest volleyball club organizations in the country.