HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — Carly Skjodt’s 2022 season was, by any measure, a very full season. She played in nine AVPs in seven different states, added four more tournaments — AVPNexts in Panama City and San Antonio, the Seaside and Laguna Opens — that were, technically, not AVPs, though they were equal in stature to Tour Series events, made all nine main draws for which she attempted, won twice, and finished her rookie year on a Sunday, in the semifinals at the AVP Pro Series in Central Florida. When including Laguna, Seaside, San Antonio, and Panama City, her prize money went well north of $10,000.
A fine rookie season. A season Skjodt calls, “honestly, a half year,” she said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “I had my full-time job until June. So when I was working full-time, I was only getting to train three times a week. That was me waking up, practicing, being home for 15 minutes, then being at work in person for eight hours. I would be going all day long on those days. That’s why ultimately I quit. I wasn’t giving myself a fair chance. I would be losing and then I’m like, how am I supposed to be mad at myself when I’m practicing twice a week, competing against people who have a full-time coach, lifting every single day? It’s hard to compare. I got into it kind of in the middle of season.”
So if 2022 was Skjodt at half speed, it begs the question: How good can she be when she’s all in?
Her career indoors is as good an indicator as any. A native of Carmel, Indiana, Skjodt was raised by two non-volleyball playing parents in the volleyball crazed Big 10 region of the United States. Michigan recruited the 2014 Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year, where she’d become a second-team All-American, team captain, and a unanimous All Big 10 selection. When her four years was up, she was left with the question that vexes most any college graduate: “I don’t want to get a job,” Skjodt recalled thinking. “What else can I do?”
She could do what droves of her indoor peers were doing at the time: Put her name in the transfer portal and see if any coaches might take a shot on her to play on the beach, something Skjodt had never before done.
“I’m from Indiana, we don’t have any beaches there,” she said, laughing. “Growing up, we had nothing, beach wise.”
Marcio Sicoli didn’t mind. Here was a 6-foot outside hitter with a shoulder big enough to thrive in the Big 10. The Pepperdine coach had no issue taking on a raw talent such as Skjodt. After the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Sicoli put Skjodt exclusively on court one, alongside Brook Bauer, now an AVP main draw regular, and Melanie Paul, who is currently competing for Germany and will be playing her final collegiate season this spring for LMU. Despite just two years of beach experience, Skjodt would log wins over a number of notable pairs, including a USC duo by the names of Hailey Harward and Julia Scoles, both of whom would win an AVP this season. She would finish her Pepperdine career winning 10 of her final 11 matches.
“The challenge of learning something new, I got caught up in that,” Skjodt said. “The beach life is definitely different, and just being an individual sport, you have to have your head on straight and be willing to work without having anyone telling you what to do. If I don’t do anything, I’m not going to perform, and I like that. I like the freedom.”
She liked it to the point that it took her just two months, and a single match, with an indoor club in Portugal for her to know that indoor was no longer for her. Carly Skjodt was a beach volleyball player, smitten by the freedom and autonomy granted living the beach volleyball life. It took her a few months to begin living like so many of her beach peers, quitting her full-time job to instead take on two part-time jobs while training and playing as much as she could. And, like so many of her peers, she’s attempting to find the balance between investing in the proper resources — coaching, training, nutrition — and what the return on that investment might look like.
“It is interesting because beach, there are so few resources, and you don’t know how much to give and how much is going to be returned,” she said. “Do you get a full-time coach and a personal trainer and all these things? That’s what I’m trying to navigate in the off-season right now and figure out how I’m going to approach this next year.”
For now, she’s looking for one partner, one coach, one trainer.
There are no more “half years” for Carly Skjodt.
“Coaching, training, and playing with one person for a season would be huge,” she said. “I would lose with a partner I trained with for a week, and we’re playing against a team who has been practicing together every single day for six months, so obviously when it comes down to it they’re probably going to get that win.”
No longer. She’s tipping the scales of commitment back in her direction, going all in and “playing,” she said, “because I’m obsessed.”