One hundred years ago in 1915, George David "Dad" Center had a vision.
On a still day with no surf, "Dad" brought a fishing net and volleyball to the sands of Waikiki Beach. He strung the net up, legend says, between two coconut trees. He gathered his buddies, local sporting protégés including Duke Kahanamoku to have some fun. Unbeknownst to them they were making history that day: they were the first people in the world to play volleyball on the beach.
One hundred years later in 2015, the sport of beach volleyball is on a roll. At the London Olympics, America continued their love affair with beach volleyball and watched as Team USA Olympians Kerri Walsh and Misty May Treanor inspired millions by spiking and blocking their way to their third consecutive Gold medal.
The 29 million viewers who watched the medal rounds on NBC were 5 million more than college football's BCS championship the same year. The most successful emerging sport in NCAA history is on its way towards full championship status in 2016. Schools across the nation are committing budgets to full time coaches and full-time scholarship athletes. Programs like my own, Spike and Serve, are forming nationally to help the record numbers of young visionaries continue to play and fall in love with the sport.
The sports "humble" beginnings were actually not so humble. "Dad" already had a track record of excellence. In Hawai'i, "Dad" was known as a big supporter of water sports: canoe paddling, surfing, and swimming. He was a coach famous in preparing Duke Kahanamoku for winning gold and silver at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. "Dad" later joined Team USA as coach for the 1920 Antwerp Olympics and brought the program unprecedented success: winning 8 Gold, 5 Silver, and 3 Bronze medals.
Hawaii Sand Volleyball Festival
The Hawai'i Tourism Authority, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts, USAV Aloha Region and Spike and Serve are proud to host the "Dad" Center Founder's Cup on March 21 and 22. Sand teams from UCLA, Oregon, Northridge, Oregon State, Chaminade, USC, and HPU will compete for the inaugural collegiate championships. "Queen's Center for Sports Medicine is excited to help provide this opportunity for the community to see the thriving sport of sand volleyball up close and for Hawai'i's juniors to partake in an event alongside collegiate stars." -Dr. Lisa Ignacio, MD
Giving Back and Honoring the Past
The sport of Beach Volleyball has brought me more than I could have ever imagined when I was a kid and first picked up a ball at the Outrigger Canoe Club. I have been coached and mentored by some of the best in the sport, I competed at the highest level by proudly representing the USA in the Olympics, now I am honored and blessed to continue "Dad's" legacy by giving back, coaching and creating opportunities for the next generation.
Come out to Queen's Beach on March 21 & 22 and cheer for your favorite collegiate team and support Hawai'i's junior athletes. We've come a long way from two coconut trees, a fishing net and ball.