A local volleyball player digs into the South Bay’s beach scene.
Your Royal Shine-ness
Your Royal Shine-ness
“Blessed are we to be in a sport where our legendary players are still alive,” bellowed the MC of the evening. Goosebumps. Tonight was the first ever Beach Volleyball Hall Of Fame and Inductee Ceremony held right here in Hermosa (as it should be). As the lights dimmed and the hoots and hollers of the crowd escalated in anticipation of the preliminary slideshow, I scanned the room for faces that I recognized, faces of a younger generation. The auditorium was packed alright, and heavily so, by an older crowd of past players along with their families, friends, and fans who’d watched them compete in the 70s and 80s. Where are my peers? Where are my contemporary role models? You know who you are because you are the ones who have been traveling the country and world with your sponsorships and your promos and post-win interviews. Where were you tonight showing your respect? I couldn’t have phrased it any better than my friend Chris Brown (CB) who, over some beers at the Watermann’s After-Party, eloquently admitted, “If Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio were all going to be in the same room I would be on their jock strap in a heartbeat.” I hope you didn’t consciously make the decision not to attend. I hope that you never even knew that this event was talking place or that you had a previous engagement to which you were already committed. So what’s the reason for your absence? What gives, young guns?
And inductees, don’t think you’re getting off easy here, for you are responsible for giving me the fastest buzz-kill of my life. You managed to turn an optimistic young player into a disappointed and lackluster girl that night. I sat for over two hours listening to all the inside jokes, all the jeers, all the intimate recollections of yesteryear…Ron Lang stating “next” when he jumped to an 8-0 lead over his opponents, ball spinning on his fingertips …the sheer intimidation of the “A” court…And even though I was neither present to create the memories nor fully understanding of half of all your trips down memory lane, I was still enamored and appreciative of your stories because this is the sport that I fell in love with that you are talking about. This is beach volleyball’s colorful, sun-kissed history, as told by the players themselves. And for the record, I could’ve listened to Chris Marlowe’s charismatic and hilarious banter all night long. You like to boast of the fact that in the early days you all committed to the sport’s “true” lifestyle of playing back-to-back games from morning till sundown. Well, while the right side of my brain likes to romanticize that era, the left-side of my brain can’t seem to figure out how in the hell you were able to play on the beach all week long and manage to support yourselves. How did sun, sand and sweat materialize into wedding vows, houses, and babies? When I mustered up the courage to ask the group this question nobody stepped up to the plate. You looked at me like “who’s this blondie trying to strike up a convo” when you should’ve embraced my curiosity and taken that opportunity tell me your stories of triumph and failure. What gives, elders?
I can’t speak for anyone else when I say that I’ve never felt so much a part of the sports history and yet so distant from it than I did during the Hall of Fame. The ceremony itself was thoughtful and entertaining and I don’t regret for a second that I attended. There are so many more questions left to be answered. I get it—the rules have changed. You played rally score. On a big court. In short shorts. This demanded a level of stamina unparalleled by today’s athletes—you like to tell me this over and over again. How can those of us trying to break into the sport compete with that? Shouldn’t we be highlighting the similarities rather than the differences between the generations? After all, when it comes down to it, we’d all just rather be wearing a bathing suit than a business suit.
If making a mark in Beach Volleyball History means putting your name on one of those plaques on the Manhattan Beach Pier, then I’m still carving my initials along the wooden railing. Without the encouragement of those who have blazed the trail before me, what’s a girl to do? Maybe I should just adopt Steve Obradovich’s memorable words during the auction segment of the night: “Oh f*ck it,” he proclaimed as he raised the bidding on a signed volleyball to $1,500. “Oh f*ck it” he said once more as he brought the bid to $2,000. In case you were wondering, Steve took home the ball that night. Oh f*ck it. I’m gong to keep riding this train no matter where it ends up taking me.