The game volleyball, originally called the “mintonette,” was invented by William G. Morgan in 1985. William was the physical director of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Holyoke Massachusetts. It was designed as an indoor game for businessmen who found basketball too strenuous. The volleyball game consists of two teams with six players, separated by a net.
Now you may be wondering how and when beach volleyball started. The history of beach volleyball dates back to the early 1900s when reports about playing volleyball in outdoor places like Hawaii.
But did you know that Santa Monica is actually credited as the birthplace of modern-day beach volleyball?
In the 1920s, the construction of jetties in Santa Monica left large sandy areas, which were then easily converted into beach courts. Public volleyball nets as well as private beach club nets, sprouted up and down the coast, thereby changing the course of volleyball history.
At the time, most people played the six-on-six game until in 1930, during a hot summer day on Santa Monica beach, Paul “Pablo” Johnson, an indoor player from Santa Monica Athletic Club, got tired of waiting for the other players to show up, and instead suggested to play with only two players on each side of the court, thus the beginning of the modern two-on-two concept. Since then, the beach volleyball game has been forever changed.
With more than twenty beaches to choose from, beach volleyball has become an iconic sport in California, with most beaches allowing public play and open nets. This further proves that the sport’s origin started in Southern California and since then has expanded worldwide.
In 1960, the very first Manhattan Beach Open was held. Also called the “Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball,” this event has been the longest-running beach volleyball tournament in the world. Just recently, the AVP Gold Series, Manhattan Beach Open reclaimed its throne as the reigning epicenter of the beach volleyball world. Packed with celebrated Olympians and former event champions, a historic event was held at the Manhattan Beach Pier on August 19-21, 2022.
Corinne Quiggle of Pepperdine University serves in the semifinal match at the 2017 USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships, part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series presented by Comcast, at the Hermosa Beach Pier on May 13, 2017 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
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With astounding 71 beach volleyball courts, Hermosa Beach also has a very rich beach volleyball history. The first beach volleyball tournament in Hermosa Beach dates to 1970. In 1990, beach volleyball was broadcast for the first time ever when NBC Sports aired the AVP Hermosa Beach event.
From 1984 to 2010, Hermosa Beach was a cornerstone event in the Association of Volleyball Professionals’ tournament schedule. After a brief hiatus, the competition was back in 2017.
Dain Blanton became the first black professional beach volleyball player to win a tournament on the AVP Tour when he and partner Canyon Ceman won the Miller Lite Hermosa Beach Grand Slam in 1997. That event also marked the most prize money for a single tournament in the history of beach volleyball at $300,000. Blanton went on to make the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Teams, and he won a gold medal in 2000 with Eric Fonoimoana.
Hermosa Beach has been the go-to place to see the best of beach volleyball for a long time, from beginners to professional players.
And until this day, the future of beach volleyball is looking bright with a new wave of beach legends making their names across the world.