This all could have been taken care of three years ago, after David Lee and Reid Priddy returned to California from Rio de Janeiro with an Olympic bronze medal in hand.
Priddy told Lee he was moving to the beach. Wanted to see if he could make it to the 2020 Tokyo Games. Lee should join him.
And then Lee “really shot myself in the foot,” he said, “because now I’m a beach volleyball player and I missed out on two years of becoming a decent beach volleyball player.”
While Priddy dove headlong into the beach game, making six semifinals in his first two years, Lee took indoor contracts in Turkey and India. When his contract in India was up in 2018 – it was a brief stint, and the league has since gone under – he took to the beach, playing in six qualifiers while making a pair of main draws.
Even in 2019, however, when he made a breakthrough in Hermosa Beach, finishing third with Sean Rosenthal, Lee still hadn’t been taking the beach game all that seriously. He skipped Manhattan to vacation, and his training mostly included going out “and play with the boys, play some pickup games,” he said. “And you’re just going through the motions without any structure or focus, and so I would say the last three weeks have been the beginning of my training as a beach volleyball player.”
When he and Priddy informed USA Volleyball that they’d be playing together, and that their goal was to compete in the 2021 World Championships, Tyler Hildebrand, the director of coaching for USA Volleyball’s national teams, slotted them in the twice-weekly USA Volleyball training groups. It caused a bit of a stir, of course, given that Lee has yet to make an FIVB main draw, and the two have yet to play an event together, “but I think Reid and I have proven ourselves through seven Olympics that we can probably play the game,” Lee said, laughing.
So here they are, three weeks into a nascent partnership, and Lee’s career is really only just beginning. He’s now in training groups with Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb, Chaim Schalk and Chase Budinger. He’s not just playing pickup with the boys, but in focused training.
“The entire approach has changed,” Lee said. “I’m trying to approach it with intent and purpose and with a mission. I’ve seen a lot of improvement within the last three weeks, which is great to see, because for a long time I felt like I was kind of stagnant and relying on my physicality to get me by. Now I’m trying to learn the entirety of beach: more vision, more shots, more blocking moves.”
Partnership recap — This off-season has been a busy one, so here’s a quick recap on the moves being made:
- Chase Budinger and Chaim Schalk
- Troy Field and Casey Patterson
- Reid Priddy and David Lee
- Theo Brunner and Tim Bomgren
- Sean Rosenthal, Jeremy Casebeer
- Sara Hughes and Lauren Fendrick
- Kim DiCello and Kendra Van Zwieten
Irene Hester-Pollock is pregnant! A congratulations is in order for Irene Hester-Pollock, who on January 16 announced that her and husband JD Pollock are expecting a baby this coming August. In 2019, Pollock played in six AVPs and two FIVBs, with a third in Austin with Terese Cannon being the highlight of the year. She finished the season with DiCello, taking a pair of 17ths in Manhattan Beach and Chicago.
In case you missed it — Falyn Fonoimoana hopped on SANDCAST to chat about life as a mom, being a good teammate, and her goals both this year and for her burgeoning career on the beach.
— I unveiled my pre-season college beach volleyball All-American team. Who are the top players to keep an eye on this season? A lot of people didn’t necessarily agree.
— The Brazilian Olympic qualification process is different than that of the U.S., with the teams already being chosen for Tokyo. Love it? Hate it? Players and coaches discussed the pros and cons of it.