S3 Volleyball, short for Southern Select Sand Volleyball, was founded in 2014, around the same time that a massive multi-sport venue called LakePoint Sporting Community opened 35 minutes north of Atlanta. In collaboration with RallyVB out of LakePoint, the two parties agreed that working together was the best way to grow the game of beach volleyball.
The founding directors, Bryan Jones, Dave Woolsteen and Kevin McClure started S3 because they felt that the juniors beach volleyball game was not supported well in the Atlanta area.
“We knew athletes had an interest, but the resources for sand training just weren’t available” adds Jones.
“We began talking to Colleen Craig from Rally Volleyball, which owns and manages the 10 court beach volleyball facility at Lakepoint. It was a great match. We were looking for space and Colleen was looking to grow events out of the Rally facility.”
Both parties agreed that working together was the best way to grow the game of beach volleyball. They developed a great relationship and S3 became the sole affiliate club of the Rally Volleyball facility.
For the first four years of existence, S3 practiced only out at Lakepoint, but at the start of the 2018-2019 season Bryan, Dave and Kevin began the planning process for their own sand courts about 40 minutes east of Lakepoint.
“We have a unique situation with our courts” shares Jones. “They are installed at a county park that a soccer club runs. The soccer club wanted another sport in the park to increase the traffic, but didn’t want a sport that would compete for field time.“
There are roughly 2,000 athletes among all of the soccer recreational programs. Beach volleyball seemed like a perfect fit. The soccer club was ready for S3 to put the courts in last fall, but there were several hoops to jump through, and approval processes with the county, which slowed things down. After many meetings, phone calls and presentations S3 finally got the green light, and started by installing 3 courts, with the potential for more in the future.
S3 has a few different beach programs available for junior athletes:
The Year Round Beach program is the center of the club. Athletes who participate in this program play beach only, and no indoor. These athletes tryout for the program in November around the indoor tryout time and commit to playing with S3 into July.
Summer Elite Program (SE). There is a tryout process for the SE athletes. Athletes are evaluated to make sure they can jump into some practices with the year-round players and still keep the level of play high. Typically these athletes are coming from the indoor game, after they are finished with regionals at the end of April.
“We try to offer some flexible schedules to them because many of the athletes will be training with their indoor teams for nationals at the same time” says Jones.
Summer Sessions A and B. This program is more relaxed and serves as a beginner program. The two Summer Sessions are divided into (2) five week blocks with two practices per week.
“We feel that it helps introduce players to the beach game, but also allows for the parents to still be able to plan summer vacations and trips.”
All programs are open to boys and S3 would love to have a boys program, but as of now there are not any boys signed up. Jones hopes that changes soon.
Club Challenge Series
This year we entered into two separate BVCA Club Challenge events powered by the JVA. Any athlete in the year-round program was eligible to play in the club duels, where a squad from one beach club will compete against the squad from another beach club. Each squad is comprised of 3 pairs.
“Jeff Smith came up with a great idea with these challenge events. It is a great opportunity to give your athletes a feel of the team aspect of beach, like in the college game.”
S3 took two squads (12 total athletes) to Dallas in March to compete in the first Club Challenge at The Strand (692’s facility).
“We thought long and hard about how to split our teams up for that event” shares Jones. “We settled on a more balanced approach to the squads to give both squads a chance to win the event.”
The tournament format was a double elimination bracket, and each club entered two squads apiece. Participating clubs were S3, 692 Dallas, 692 San Diego, 210 Beach, Tamarack Beach, and Dakine, all high level beach clubs from around the country.
After a lot of battles, S3 competed against Dakine out of Washington in the final, which was the first time the teams had ever met in competition. S3 came out on top and took the victory in its first Club Challenge event The teams were ecstatic!
The next Challenge Series event was in Atlanta at the Rally Volleyball facility. It was a completely different format because several more clubs were competing: S3, 692 Dallas, 692 San Diego, Tamarack, Empowered, C3, Stars and Stripes, and Ohio Valley Beach.
“We actually shifted just about every pair around somehow, but kept battling through the bracket and found ourselves champions again. The players’ grit and determination paid off once again. It was a great event!”
Jones believes the best part of the Club Challenge Events the coaches is the time you get to spend meeting and talking with other club directors from all around the country. Clubs in Cali run a lot different than clubs in Georgia, and there is so much to learn from communicating and sharing information.
S3 directors are always hungry to learn and improve year after year. Every December the club sends its staff to the AVCA Convention.
“One of the things that has been a big help to me is networking with coaches and directors. I have several friends who run clubs around the country and I call on them often for their perspective. They are an awesome resource to have.“
We’re proud of the dedication and commitment S3 has shown to the sport of beach volleyball and to the mission of the JVA.
S3 Volleyball (Cartersville, GA) is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization committed to enhancing the junior volleyball experience for club directors, coaches, players, and fans.