Three years ago, Gavin Watt and I, started playing beach volleyball for a bit of a change and to keep us playing volleyball of some kind throughout the summer. We really enjoyed playing beach, so this year we have spent a lot of our summer on the sand. Our time on the beach has seen us develop our individual skills, experience of beach volleyball, physical and mental abilities, and helped us get a good tan! When Colin Paterson asked us if we would like to play in the European Under-23 tournament in Kaliningrad, Russia in August this year, we jumped at the chance.
With some of the pairings playing on the FIVB world tour, this is obviously a huge step up from the level at which we currently compete. For the last 8-10 weekends we have played in tournaments. Combined with 2 or 3 training sessions a week we are looking forward to the challenge in Kaliningrad.
As part of our preparations we spent a few days training in Bath, where the GB Beach Squad are based. Fellow Scot, Robin Miedzybrodzki spent 3 hours in the pouring rain helping us improve our game. The next day we got some coaching from Vince Joyce, who coached at Atlanta 1996 and played in the World Tour in 1993-94. His knowledge and experience of the game is outstanding so we were very grateful to receive such great quality advice.
We have travelled from Portobello, to Aberdeen, Sandbanks, Weymouth, and beyond, but we have the biggest journey coming up on the 11th of August. We fly out on the Tuesday and start playing on Thursday through to the weekend. We can’t wait! (Keep track of our progress on the CEV website here.)
We really enjoy playing beach volleyball for a number of reasons, especially the physical and mental demands of the game. In 2-aside there are definitely no hiding places! We would encourage all young players to try beach volleyball – the Scottish tour is a great way to get started.
Finally, we have a few people to thank. Thanks to all our coaches who have helped us get where we are – Wendy Cruickshank, Barbara Henderson, Tommy Dowens and Ian Brownlee – just a few. Thanks to our training partners, coaches, arch-enemies – Barry McGuigan and Graham Riddle. Thanks to Robin and Vince for sharing their wealth of experience with us. Thanks to the SVA for their support. Thanks to our families for their never-ending support. Perhaps most of all, thanks to Colin Paterson for all his help organising the trip, for coaching us, and for being passionate about beach volleyball. Thank you everyone.