At this time a year ago, I was living in a garage in Redondo Beach. At this time a year ago, almost to the day, I was talking with Eric Zaun, my good friend and roommate, about one of his characteristically crazy yet somehow perfectly reasonable ideas, not unlike, say, living in a garage: Taking a 10-day snow volleyball trip to Europe.
I am no longer living in a garage, nor am I discussing international trips to play a sport that, let’s be honest, should not, by any stretch of the imagination, exist. But every one of those moments with Zaun — the bizarre, the crazy, the wonderful, the indelible — was a gift. And though Zaun, who committed suicide last June and whose death devastated the beach volleyball community, is no longer with us to give those gifts, his spirit still very much is.
This week, Jon Mesko, Katie Spieler and I are happy beyond words to announce that applications and donations are open for the second annual Eric Zaun Memorial Scholarship. Application and donation instructions can be found at the bottom of this story.
Its first year of existence was of tremendous benefit and blessing to a number of individuals, including the five winners: Megan Nash, Logan Webber, Aurora Davis, JM Plummer, Kacey Losik. Through the incredible generosity of the beach volleyball community, the Eric Zaun Memorial Scholarship surpassed our fundraising goals by a long shot, able to subsidize the majority of Nash’s and Webber’s seasons while getting Davis to a NORCECA in Bonaire, which she won, and Plummer to Big Shots, which he also won, earning a main draw bid to AVP Huntington Beach, and Losik to Chicago, which he did not win but was at least able to compete.
This year, the scholarship committee is seeking to make a similar, if not bigger impact, in the name of one of the beach’s most unforgettable personalities. The scholarship has added a youth element, kudos of Carly Gant at AVP America, which will award a scholarship recipient at this year’s AVP America banquet in July.
For the professionals, the goal of the scholarship is to fund two beach volleyball players for the season, individuals who have shown, through competing in AVP qualifiers, a work ethic, desire, and a rugged, grind it out mentality that Zaun espoused with his three-a-day practices and tirelessness. The scholarship will split the funding in two parts, one half of which will go to a male winner, the other half of which will go to a female winner.
While, no, I will not be receiving any more two-minute voicemails from my friend, discussing our next potential adventure, through this scholarship, I can get as close as possible. Reading the application essays was an incredible joy to me, as I, along with Mesko and Spieler, were able to see the spirit of Zaun flowing through the veins of our beach volleyball community.
So send in the essays. Donate if you can.
Allow Zaun’s indefatigable spirit to continue making its mark on the beach volleyball world.
How to apply
Candidates should answer one of three questions in no more than 400 words. Answers should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
— Times may be tough but we want to hear how you’re an innovator in keeping morale high.
— Eric Zaun was well known to put in double and triple days and work harder than any other beach volleyball players on the sand. He also did it on a lower budget and with less means than just about all other players. How do you work harder than your peers on a lower budget?
— Tell us about the life you’re living. What fulfills you? What are you doing that makes your way of living unique? What’s your next adventure?
How to donate
We are using the crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe. You can donate whatever amount you’d like, and while we cannot give anything material in return to you, you will have our extreme gratitude, and the appreciation and love of the beach volleyball community.
Please click here to donate to the Eric Zaun Memorial Scholarship.