Called to Action

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Dale Hoffman was asked to play in the Redsand International Volleyball Tournament in Estero Beach

From the My Serve section of Volleyball Monthly, October 1994

I got a call from the vice president asking if I was ready to serve. Being a dedicated citizen, I answered affirmative. No, not that vice presidentthe important one, George Stepanof, California Beach Volleyball Association vice presidentasking if Id be interested in serving, digging, and mostly setting to Steve Timmons at the Redsand International Volleyball Tournament in Estero Beach, Mexico. George said since Timmons had won a couple years prior, the committee was determined to make sure it never happened again.

That’s where I came in. But, he reassured me they didnt want a partner so bad that Timmons wouldnt have any fun (after all Redsand was the sponsor) as had happened in the past. I guess even if he really didnt want to win (something about two golds and a bronze) he didnt want a total hack for a partner.

The organizing committee thought it might be a good pairing but was concerned about my being intimidated about playing with Big Red. Why should I, a beach player of 15 yearsstill without a rating to my namebe intimidated? Just because Timmons is one of the most recognizable and feared volleyball players in the world? Just because an MTV camera crew would be following him around like some lost mongrel all weekend? Just because every woman in the place would be courtside checking him out? Intimidated? Nah. Did I want to play with him? Sure!

Timmons trademark flattop was gone, replaced by a longer, boyish cut. But he was easy to recognize as he approached the court with his entourage, the crew trailing, still asking how he felt and was he ready to play. Timmons response was, I feel the same as I did last time you asked. I feel great. Of course Im ready to play. Im here, arent I? At 35 he’s still in great shape, still playing on the pro tour, and still crushing the ball.

To stand out at Estero the way Timmons did was an amazing feat in itself. The tournament is huge. There were 792 teams this year, 552 men’s and 240 women’s. It’s the Woodstock of volleyball as players from all over the world gather for two days of too much sun, too much fun, and never enough volleyball. For a tournament of its size it is extremely well-run, thanks to the Committee, the group of dedicated individuals who organize the thing. With its beginnings as a fishing trip Mike Brown and his buddies took to Baja 20 years ago, it’s now on Volleyball Monthly’s top beach tournaments list.

For the weekend Timmons was on a mission: to have fun and make the most of things for the ubiquitous MTV cameras. My objectives differed only slightly to the extent I didnt want to embarrass myself too much on the court. Only slightly concerned about having to play at a level considerably higher than usual, Timmons allayed my fears quickly by emphasizing he was down here to have fun, to have a good time.

And a good time it was. Hamming it up for the crowd and camera, he paced us through each game, stopping for photos, autographs, interviews, and an occasional refreshment. We had some fun games, played to lots of heckling, and saw a guy named Bob (wearing the bitchinest ant shorts) put a career Jed on Timmons. We went undefeated on Saturday. No worse for the wear after a late night of hosting the player party, Steve showed up for the playoffs on Sunday. We finally lost our only game of the tournament in the third round, finishing up early in the afternoon. Probably victims of that hot Estero sun.

A friend asked if Id ever go back, since Ill never get another partner like Timmons. And here I am thinking the same kind of thing. I wonder if Timmons will come back next year knowing hell be missing his setter.

Author Dale Hoffman was the president of the California Beach Volleyball Association for seven years in the 1990s.

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