It was a little less than two weeks ago when the AVP schedule was announced in full, and, no, I’m not mistaken. I’m well aware that the AVP’s eight mainstay events, with the stadiums and qualifiers and main draws and coverage on Amazon Prime, had been released a month and a half prior.
But those are no longer the only eight events in which players can make a good chunk of money and get a bona fide professional experience. Last season, the AVP unveiled a series of events labeled the AVP Next Gold, tournaments around the country — including, yes, Florida, site of the most angst every year when the AVP does not do a full stop there — where the prize money, for some finishes, was better than that of a main draw finish, with main draw implications on the line, and enough points to attract regular main draw players. This year, there are nine such events, with a total of $160,000 in prize money. Eight of those events – hosted in Cincinnati, Santa Cruz, San Antonio, Hermosa Beach, Dallas, Dallas again, Pompano Beach, Atlantic City, and Treasure Island – will have $15,000 purses, while the Atlantic City purse is pumped up to $40,000. The winners of each will receive a bid into an AVP main draw.
“We have been very cognizant of the fact that the playing population wants more than eight Pro Tour events,” Josh Glazebrook, the AVPs Creative Director, said. “Internally we would love to offer more as well, but we need to continue to find cost-effective ways to create more meaningful competition with real incentives on the line. These AVPNext U26, AVPNext Gold & Gold Plus locations and partners give us the opportunity to do just that, and at the same time we can thoroughly evaluate if these events have the potential to become a Pro Tour site in the future.
“In the meantime, we feel these events are the perfect pathway for aspiring pros to gain points, earn some extra money and gain valuable experience to carry on the legacy of those that are currently established. We need to continue to foster the next generation of athletes that are striving to be called an AVP pro.”
For Americans who either don’t have interest in international competition or lack the funds or points to do so, the AVP, combined with the AVP Next Gold, provides a schedule of nearly 20 events with respectable prize money. I made more money in the three AVP Next Gold events I played last season — third in Virginia Beach, first in Chicago, fifth at Seaside — than I did in the six AVP Pro Tour events I competed in, and one of my main draws (Manhattan Beach) came as a result of my win in Chicago with local celebrity Raffe Paulis.
They are, simply, a no-brainer for anybody outside the top tier of the main draw.
The main draw wild cards earned from these events, said Glazebrook, “will provide ample openings that we can use to strengthen the beach volleyball pipeline and create opportunities for elite development. It also provides for players in areas of the country where beach volleyball is less prominent to have high level athletes visit them and ultimately strengthen their regional competitions and bring national exposure.”
AVP partners with CBVA
The AVP Next Gold Series is not the only move being made by the domestic tour to make a sizable impact at the grassroots level. This month, a partnership with the AVP and CBVA, announced in December, officially begins, commencing with the CBVA’s junior kickoff event on Feb. 8.
“The AVP grassroots initiative has always been one of the highest priorities within our business portfolio,” Donald Sun, owner of the AVP, said in a statement on AVP.com. “We continue to collaborate with elite partners across North America who share the same core values which enables all of us to promote the health and longevity of outdoor volleyball. AVP and CBVA have both enjoyed rich histories within the sport of beach volleyball, and it is a momentous day that our two brands have finally come together with the common goal to further enhance the participatory opportunities of our beautiful sport in California.”
SOB Volleyball Vacations continues to shine in beach community
One of the great communities in beach volleyball, the South of the Border Volleyball Vacations, continues to do tremendous work. Last Friday, at a trip in Ixtapa, Mexico, SOB raised more than $8,000 by auctioning off autographed memorabilia, upping its total on the year to $18,000
In case you missed it
- Five American teams are off to Cambodia for this week’s two-star, including Sara Hughes and Lauren Fendrick.
- Missed the Super Bowl? That’s fine, you can re-watch the only part that really matters: A Michelob Ultra commercial featuring Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat
- Reid Priddy has a familiar face in his new partner: David Lee. They have seven Olympics on their indoor resumes. How will they do on the beach?