Well we officially just wrapped up the Summer 2018 season with SandLegs, so here are some closing thoughts…
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Allison Meehan. Those that do know me, probably know me as “Coach Alli.” I won’t go too deep into my background because that’s actually a great idea for a future blog post (“Meet the Coaches??”), but I am the Assistant Director for SandLegs Beach Volleyball Club, and more importantly, a Lead Coach on the Peninsula. In the past, Simone has written a blog with topics ranging from beach volleyball, coaching, nutrition, whatever. When she brought up the idea of posting a consistent blog on our website, I jumped at the idea. I love writing. However, starting this blog was a bit of a challenge because I usually do not write about topics that are near and dear to my heart with the intention of others actually reading it. So, bear with me as I get used to this blogging thing.
I have been coaching for Sandlegs for four years now. And I can honestly say that every year, it gets better. Beach volleyball has taken off in the last couple years. And because this sport is still developing at all levels, WE (coaches, players, parents, fans) have the ability to shape the sport and its culture. How cool is that??? This year was a huge year for NorCal beach volleyball, and we feel so honored to play even a small role in that growth.
If I had to sum up this year in one word, it would be GROWTH. This year was a huge growth year for our club. There were many “firsts” this year, and through trial and error (yes, there were plenty of errors) we learned SO MUCH. To summarize…
Partnership with RedRock. This year, we decided to partner with RedRock in order to provide the most comprehensive and competitive year-round Beach Volleyball training program in Northern California. New Location! We rolled out a new location, Flood Park, in Menlo Park. This was the first year we have had a presence on the Peninsula. There was definitely a learning curve, and we were so lucky to have great girls and awesome parents who were patient while we experimented with different practice times/days and attempted to work around indoor schedules. Note: Spring schedule will be coming out ASAP so we don’t run into those same problems, fingers crossed. Lululemon Sponsorship. I don’t know about everyone else, but this was one of the greatest things that happened for me this year! Kidding! Although, my lululemon collection did grow by about 100%. We really want our girls to show off that they play for Sandlegs. I rep our gear every time I play because Sandlegs is my family and my team (also… I’ve spent all my money on Lulu so I better wear it as often as possible… :). We strive to turn beach volleyball, which sometimes leans towards being an individual sport, into a team sport. And a big part of that is the gear. We were definitely the best dressed team on the beach. For those of you that had orders mixed up or missing, part of that was because it was our first time working with Lulu, and part of it was me getting used to some Assistant Director roles, so I’ll own that. We plan on improving our ordering system and the printing process to get gear out early! Assigned Squads. This was the first year, we truly assigned squads (elite and advanced) for every age group. In the past, we just divided up whoever showed up to practice. And on that note, we never tracked who was coming to practice. New organizational app – MINDBODY. I’m sure many parents will have feedback about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of this app. But first, we should explain the reasoning behind using this app. MINDBODY was a primary tool for scheduling classes and coaches, as well as private lessons. By using this app, we were finally able to track who was attending practices. MINDBODY created one, universal location in which to store information on players, communicate between members, schedule practices and staff, input gear orders, etc. The app has the ability to be extremely effective given that is set up properly and users are utilizing it in the correct manner (this includes coaches haha). I have no doubt this will only get better as we learn the system. High School Beach Volleyball. For the first year, high schools were adding their own beach volleyball programs! This is an amazing step forward for our sport. Remember, the more touches, the sharper that learning curve gets. The best part – our very own SandLegs players were often the ambassadors in starting these programs. Simone Ortega was also a huge advocate for high school beach. She coached for Piedmont High School, and she even ran three tournaments in Alameda. Her passion and sacrifice for this sport constantly amazes me. On that note, this was also our first year running our own tournaments! SandLegs Tournaments. This year, helped run various club tournaments in order to provide more opportunities for coaching, as well as opportunities to qualify for AAU JOs (which so many of our girls did!!). Simone teamed up with Lucas Bol in order to run the Bay Area Beach League tournaments at Santa Cruz Main Beach. This year our girls had so many opportunities to compete, which was truly a first.
I always tell my players who are either new to the game or working on a new skill -> IT IS OKAY TO BE BAD AT NEW THINGS. Now this is not an excuse to fail or not to try, but I think it is so important for our players, parents, and coaches to accept that mistakes are part of growing. When you let go of the fear of making mistakes, you can really focus on learning. We want to create an environment in which mistakes, creativity, problem solving, and learning are celebrated. Learning is messy. And beach volleyball is extra messy (literally, you may have noticed we sent our players home as sand churros many days). if you have a few minutes, there is an interesting TED Talk that discusses a similar idea from an education standpoint. Here is the link to the full video. Fast forward to 3:44 and play until about 6:20 if you have a couple minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY
Well that’s all I’ve got for now because I really could go on about specific tournaments and huge wins brought to you by our amazing players and coaching staff, but we’ll save it for another blog. The next blog might just be a summary of our trip to Southern California. **Spoiler alert: One of the highlights was watching our SandLegs 18U OG team of Liz Waters-Leiga (committed to Florida State) and Jordan Polo (committed to Cal) taking third in the BVCA Championships in Hermosa Beach. Stay tuned for more! Looking forward to learning, growing, and, of course, making a few mistakes with you all this year… And already looking forward to next Summer. Thank you for reading and for supporting SandLegs Beach Volleyball Club. See you at the beach/park! :)