Last August the AVP tour was canceled mid-season, much to the chagrin of beach volleyball lovers everywhere. At the time it looked like American beach volleyball players would have to go abroad if they wanted to continue their professional volleyball lives.
A few short months later USA Volleyball and IMG Action Sports were announcing a tour, and just a month after that the NVL (National Volleyball League) announced it would be running complementary, USAV-sanctioned beach events.
But now it’s March, and we’ve yet to see any kind of schedule from the USAV/IMG collaboration. The word is that Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach tournaments are both on, but there’s woefully little information out there from either side. The NVL, however, has a definite schedule, sponsors, and even recently announced an increase in prize money.
Originally intended as a supplement to the 4-6 stop season of the Beach Championship Series run by the USAV/IMG team, the NVL league is now looking like the big dog in the fight. Their announcement in December (see albhannemann.com) mentioned Miami, Atlanta and Las Vegas as stops, with the goal of bringing beach volleyball to more parts of the country. Currently, however, the NVL season will kick off in May in Baltimore, MD at The Preakness with total prize money coming in at $75,000.
The season continues with tournament stops in Malibu (July 22-24), Virginia Beach (August 26-28), Aspen (August 30-Sept 5), Miami Beach (Sept 9-11) and Long Beach (Sept 23-25). Total prize money at the final two stops is $150,000.
The NVL was founded by Albert “AL-B” Hannemann, who previously had an 18 year professional career on the AVP and also held executive positions within the now-defunct organization. Given that his organization actually has a schedule you can find on the internet and actual money to dole out, he’s light years ahead of any other beach efforts in the US right now.
According to video from the NVL media day, Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Traenor will be reuniting to play in the NVL and make a run at the London Olympics, and from what I can tell pretty much all the big names we know and love from the AVP are planning to bring it to the NVL.
So beach volleyball fans: if you live anywhere near any of these events, go see them! Support the revival of beach volleyball in the US so we don’t end up with another aborted season.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.