The white sands, towering palm trees and light breeze of Fort Lauderdale Beach provided the perfect setting for the debut of Beach Volleyball at the National Senior Games. Athletes eager to test their skills in this new open sport will play in women’s and men’s 2v2 and 4v4 divisions through May 18, 2022.
Beach Volleyball Veterans Excited for a New Competition
“I was on it as soon as they opened registration,” says Bea Graves, an accomplished beach volleyball player who has competed in and won masters tournaments in countries around the world including New Zealand, Italy, Hawaii, and Malaysia.
“I travel all over the world for beach volleyball, and I have friends in every continent, you just have a great time…it’s such a big party,” says Bea.
She and her partner Mikiya Sequioa are the only team in their 65-69 age bracket, but the duo are having a good time playing down.
Both have played volleyball since childhood. Bea graduated high school the year Title IX was passed and did not have the opportunity to play on a girl’s volleyball team. Instead, she would go to a local park and convince the boys to let her play with them.
Bea was inducted last year into the Arizona Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame for her fundamental role in establishing the sport in the state. Both teammates organize games on a regular basis with a network of players of all ages in their area – often squeezing in a few games in the morning before work.
Faithful Friends Team Up for Fort Lauderdale
On the men’s courts, Arkansas athletes Martin Faulkner, Kevin Holt, Gary Wehrum, and Freddy Williams hit the sand for their first taste of National Senior Games competition. The group has been friends for over 20 years and are pairing up for 2v2 Beach Volleyball, then competing as a four-person team.
The team meets up often to enjoy each other’s company and play beach volleyball. Gary is the recreational supervisor at his church, and his teammates recently helped him build a sand volleyball court at the facility to introduce others to the game and host fundraising tournaments. It’s clear these team members are faithful friends on and off the court.
Beach Volleyball Presents a Challenge
Romy Toussain, Bonnie Hanna, and Amy Hansen were excited for the challenge of beach volleyball, noting that it’s a very different game from indoor. Since beach volleyball players move around and play every position, they described it as “the ultimate team sport,” requiring a well-rounded skill set.
Romy, Bonnie, and Amy are playing under the team name “Get Over It,” inspired by the practical mindset of, “if you make a mistake in the game, get over it,” says Amy.