Girls in the Clovis Unified area had the chance to participate in their first beach volleyball tournament Saturday, May 14 in hopes of encouraging local school districts to adopt the sport.
Saturday’s tournament was hosted by Elite Beach Volleyball, which showcased a series of matches being held against five different teams that were not affiliated with any schools. Teams included the “Wolfpack”, “The North Clovis Stallions”, “Eagles”, “San Joaquin Memorial” and “The Originals”.
Micheal DeRaffaele, Director of Elite Beach Volleyball said the tournament was a way for their athletes to show their high schools that there is interest from students in having beach volleyball come to their schools.
“We have amazing athletes that want to continue to play beach volleyball, that are going to college on beach volleyball scholarships and are playing, but yet it is not even a high school sport,” DeRaffaele said.
Travis Herb, Head Coach of the Clovis North girls volleyball program and one of the coaches for “The North Clovis Stallions” team, said the crowd that came out to support those involved in the tournament had a “nice vibe” for beach volleyball.
“It’s a phenomenal sport, it’s one of the fastest growing sports in the country ever and we’re hoping to expand this and make it a permanent part of what we do, not only in Clovis Unified but up and down the valley,” Herb said.
Herb said that if beach volleyball was adopted as an official sport within the district it would be a valued addition to their high school line up of sports.
“Beach volleyball is an inevitability, it has expanded through all levels of collegiate volleyball. Many of the high schools at hundreds of high schools up and down the state have already committed to making a team, some of those teams are practicing and playing on on-campus facilities and some of them are just making it work,” Herb said.
Herb wants the Clovis volleyball community to be considered some of the leaders in beach volleyball, and said he hopes the community would also want to lead by example and not have to “play catch up” by not adopting the sport sooner than later.
According to DeRaffaele, this year is the first year that the California Interscholastic Foundation (CIF) approved beach volleyball as a sport and of the ten sections in California, four now have beach volleyball at their schools this year.
DeRaffaele hopes to make the Central district the fifth district to adopt beach volleyball, with the help and support of community members.
“We are hoping that we can show the schools that, ‘hey, we can do this,’.” DeRaffaele said.
At the end of the tournament “The North Clovis Stallions” took first place, followed by the “Eagles” in second place and “San Joaquin Memorial” took third place.
DeRaffaele said that the biggest takeaway for him about Saturday’s tournament was that he had the chance to see players come in and play at a “very high level” and execute plays well, but also he was proud to see players make their debut playing beach volleyball during the competition.
“My biggest thing is I just want to see every girl become the best version of themselves that they can possibly be and beach volleyball is a great tool for that,” DeRaffaele said.
Elite Beach Volleyball’s next event will be an AVP professional clinic hosted by professional athlete Jeremy Casebeer on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday 22, at Sierra Bicentennial Park in Clovis, with registration available on their website.