So I just got back from checking out the beach volleyball club. I was just going to meet the coach and observe some practices to help guess what level I would be at. Alfredo kept insisting I start at the ‘seniores’ level, and after watching for a little while I thought I might be able to. They weren’t spiking very hard and in general the pace of play wasn’t too fast. On the other hand the beginners were struggling to bump the ball without it going out of the court. Honestly, I had no idea if I was going to make a fool of myself, the women playing were rock hard dark Italian women in their thirties, clearly knowing what they were about. When they were taking a break Alfredo led me into the court to meet the coach (a past Olympian, I forgot his name), and he surprised me by asking me to join in right then and there (lessons are pretty expensive). That’s one nice thing about beach volleyball, once you have a court to play on there is very limited gear you need, just a semi dependable bathing suit (sadly the one I was wearing was a cream color, not expecting to actually play, and now it is brown). I surprised myself by actually being able to control my passes and return their serves. I couldn’t serve it over the net overhand, but I’ve really never been able to do that. That’s my main practice point. The Olympian coach spoke very good English, at least when it came to coaching terms, so that was a good discovery. I was worried there’d be a lot more pointing. I struggled a bit with some basic form and techniques, but I was nervous out of my mind so I think I will be able to get better at those quickly. All in all it was VERY fun, so much more fun than I thought it would be. Volleyball in my experience has been a good sport to bond with the other girls, and it proved to be true in this case too. The women were very welcoming of me and said it would give them a chance to practice their English. However, the coach said I should do the first week in the beginner group just to get some basic techniques up to speed. I wasn’t insulted by this, I was happy with the fact that in general he thought I could keep up with these born and bred beach volleyball players, I just needed some reintroduction into the sport.
Main conclusion: in a beautiful sandy place beach volleyball is amazing. It’s great to dive into the powdery sand even if you miss the dig. It’s an amazing workout and by the end of it you’re covered in sand and sweat and feel really accomplished. I hope I can get better, I know it will be a challenge for me every time I try. Especially in this intense environment, it’s definitely out of my element. But overcoming that challenge and reflecting on the fact that I’m watching the Pescaran sunset while being trained in beach volleyball by an Olympic player makes me think about all of the places I could go in this world!