If you’d have told me 6 years ago, that I’d be spending my summer weekends at the beach in England, in the (sometimes…) sun; laughing, joking and playing, surrounded by great people from all over the world…YES. I’m in. But if you’d have told me it was to be that, but knee deep, fully submerged, eat, breathe, sleep… beach volleyball. I’d probably still be laughing now. My first beach volleyball encounter went something like this…
“What do you do for a living?”
“I play beach volleyball for Team GB”
“Oh nice, and what’s your real job?”
I won’t lie, it was the most bizarre thing I’d heard. Being from a city in the North which was famous for steel and hills, beaches and good weather were not really something that you could make a career out of. Or even a hobby for that matter.
What was even more strange, is how quickly I became part of this community, whether I intended to or not.
I’d spent 3 years of my life travelling around the world, meeting new people, exploring new cultures. Never had I been welcomed into a community and a family like I had of that on the beach. Within what felt like 5 minutes of stepping on the sand, I had an array of volunteer partners, and been dragged into a training session with ladies who, not only were well aware beach volleyball was a real thing, but were actually really good. Then there was me, clasping my fingers together and swatting the ball anywhere in the direction of… not myself.
There it was. The beginning of the next unexpected chapter of my life. What a lot of the beach volleyball community don’t realise, is what a unique, beautiful family that they are a part of. It’s difficult to imagine not knowing a community exists. It’s hard to picture not being a part of it. Not knowing the people that you do. And, not embracing the one common interest that brings everyone together.
Have you noticed? You can be on a beach anywhere in the world, if there’s a net and a ball, there’s a family. There’s a community. Diverse, unique, and special.
This time will feel difficult and lonely for a lot of us; craving those summer days to get your beach volleyball fix and forgetting about the worries of the world. But just remember, you have a huge family out there; all with the same passion, the same uniqueness, and maybe the same struggles. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Lots of love
Sophie Baker is Deep Dish's brand manager.