Eight KBeach Club Members Compete in Southern California Tournament
by Loni Rahm
Desiree Phelps is no stranger to competition. And after the strenuous beach volleyball tournament just completed in Southern California, neither are her club members.
Phelps is a self-avowed volleyball aficionado. The former Manson High School volleyball coach was restless for a new adventure.
Backyard volleyball among family and friends led to a multi-year participation in club volleyball. Then in fall of 2014, Phelps started Kahiau Volleyball Club, along with her husband Frank and Chelan High School volleyball coach, Donene Hendricks.
In the spring of 2015, the fledgling Kahiau Volleyball Club held its first camp, teaching outdoor volleyball fundamentals and techniques on grass courts to about 15 enthusiastic attendees. Phelps was pleased, but she really wanted to tap into the momentum of the growing sport of beach volleyball. All she needed was a beach.
Phelps convinced the City of Chelan Parks Department to refurbish their sand volleyball courts at Don Morse Park. By the end of April 2016, the gritty old granite had been replaced with professional grade sand, and beach volleyball had arrived on the shores of Lake Chelan.
Despite its recent global growth in popularity, beach volleyball isn’t a new sport. Most historians agree that sand volleyball was played on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii as early as 1915. A mere 100 years later, it became a fully sanctioned NCAA championship sport in the 2015-16 school year.
The number 100 also reflects the growth in number of participants over the past 4 years. Remember those 15 kids who played on grass a few years ago? This spring, at the start of their 3rd season in sand, there were 115 participants.
Obviously passionate about the growth in the Kahiau Volleyball Club (KBeach), Phelps’ started to choke up during our interview as she shared the numbers. “It’s very humbling to have so many kids and families believe in you,” she said quietly.
Her excitement returned quickly, however, as she told me about the 3-stop tournament she and eight of her club members were in the middle of.
KBeach Tournament Participants:
- Morgyn Harrison
- Elly Collins
- Allie Williams
- Ruby Wier
- Brynn Hughbanks
- Piper Grossberg
- Natalee Reyes
- Nicole Bantilan
This is the second year Phelps has taken a group of girls to play in the Kerri Walsh Jennings p1440 Beach Volleyball Tournament. Walsh Jennings is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and one-time Olympic bronze medalist. The name p1440 comes from Walsh Jennings’ desire to live all 1,440 minutes in every day with purpose.
Phelps loves the tournament’s competitive format and location. Each day there is a pool of 2-person teams that play. The 1st and 2nd place pool winners move into a tournament bracket for the afternoon. Phelps was pleased to note that all 4 of her teams made it into bracket play. She likes the random rotation of team development. Instead of two girls being consistent partners, they play with different KBeach club teammates over the course of the tournament – giving them valuable insight into their own skills and the flexibility to recognize and adjust to the skill set of their teammate.
The girls officiate the games, which Phelps feels is a strong opportunity to learn how to advocate for themselves.
As for the location, Phelps cites the importance of learning to play in different conditions which includes “winds off the water and the deep sand” that Southern California is famous for. She also appreciates letting the girls “see what else is out there,” which in the case of this tournament includes rubbing shoulders with All-American and Olympic athletes, professionals and fellow volleyball players from across the continent.
The girls and their families fund their own tournament trip. “It’s a huge group effort,” said Phelps, emotion creeping into her voice again. “These are wonderful kids and their families love the results they see in their kids. They all are so supportive…it’s overwhelming,”
Kahiau is a Hawaiian word which means: “To give generously from the heart without expectation of return.”
Judging by the passion and success of Phelps, her fellow coaches, club members and their families – the return on investment has far exceeded any expectation of return.
All photos taken by Frank Phelps, courtesy of KBeach Volleyball Club