Two years ago, HPSTL became the leader for outdoor volleyball in the Greater St. Louis area. As beach volleyball became sanctioned as an official NCAA sport, Joe Deimeke started implementing a plan; to offer training environments for those athletes who wanted to play collegiate beach volleyball. In that spirit, HPSTL’s first and only Hybrid Team was formed. The idea was simple: half indoor volleyball, half outdoor volleyball. Nine girls ages 16 and under came together to test their skills on the court & in the sand. That was 2015, but where are they now? Outdoor Director, Joe Deimeke checked in with Sam Lemmon, Sarah Wilson, and Katelyn Theiss from that 2015 Hybrid Team.
Where are you now? Are you playing indoor, beach, both, for your high school?
Sam Lemmon: Delray Beach, Florida. Only beach, I played in 50 tournaments during the 2016 beach season.
Sarah Wilson: Festus, Missouri. Finishing up senior year at St. Pius X. Since the hybrid team, I have played year round beach and been the manager for our high school’s state championship team.
Katelyn Theiss: DeSoto, Missouri. I played high school volleyball all four years at DHS. I am not playing club this year to focus on sand volleyball. My partner and I have been practicing since February and are ready for sand tournaments.
Sam Lemmon and Katlyn Theiss with the TBT to 2015
Plans for college?
SL: Verbally committed to Florida International University
SW: I’ve accepted a scholarship to play sand volleyball at Missouri Baptist University.
KT: I’ll be attending Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN to play beach volleyball and be an indoor practice placer to stay in shape.
What is your favorite part of beach?
SL: The freedom to choose and create. I get to pick my partners and when and where I want to play.
SW: I love how different it is from indoor volleyball and all the people I’ve met through playing.
KT: My favorite part is the freedom because there are only two players, each player gets more touches on the ball versus indoor with six people. Getting more action on the court makes me feel like I’m making a difference and not just a piece of the puzzle like in indoor. Playing beach volleyball requires less pressure to make perfect plays or have the strongest, most straight down hit. The play and overall atmosphere of beach is way more relaxed and fun than indoor.
Any goals for summer 2017?
SL: I will be representing USA in the Maccabiah Games for Beach Volleyball. Also known as the Jewish Olympics, it is the 3rd largest sporting event in the world with 80 countries attending and 10,000 athletes.
SW: My partner, Lucy Kaufman, and I have qualified for the National Championships in July and our goal is to place higher than we did last year. I also want to be as prepared as possible to help MoBap next year and help Lucy with her recruitment process.
KT: My goal is to prepare for college and improve my overall game by focusing on doing the small things correctly in order to make bigger changes. My partner, Lucy Randall, and I have made a team goal to qualify for, and do well at, USAV Nationals. We will also be training for a month in Florida with my first partner, Sam Lemmon to prepare.
How did beach volleyball help you develop as a player?
SL: The game is my game; I am player and co-coach with my partner. That type of personal ownership helped me develop confidence, game strategy and skill.
SW: It has helped to strengthen my ball control, attacking, endurance and overall court awareness. My mental approach and toughness has also continued to develop.
KT: It has taught me to make smarter shots on and to be a better defensive player by reading shots and digging them. It has also given me a better understanding of volleyball, because in the sand, you must perform all skills, which improves your indoor game drastically.
Did you meet new people? New volleyball partners?
SL: I have played with over 25 different partners. I had the chance to play with some pros a few times in women’s open and with male partners in coed open.
SW: I’ve met some of the nicest, most genuine people ever while playing beach volleyball. I’ve met some of my best friends through beach, including Lucy Kaufman who has been my partner over the past two seasons.
KT: I have met a ton of people through my travels and I continue to keep in contact with them and will likely play against them in college.
Where has beach volleyball taken you? Any places in the future you are looking forward to?
SL: Beach volleyball has opened a lot of doors for me. First was moving to Florida where I can play year round. Then to Israel this summer to represent USA in the Jewish Olympics. And, of course, to compete for an opportunity to play and travel representing FIU.
SW: Beach volleyball has taken us all over the country, including Minnesota, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Louisiana and Florida. We are especially excited about the 2017 USAV National Championships in Siesta Key, FL.
KT: Beach volleyball has taken me all over the United States including Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia, Kansas City, and Chicago. I am excited for next year’s collegiate travel schedule.
Kelly Campbell and Sarah Wilson were members of the 2015 Hybrid Team
What would you say to someone thinking about playing beach?
SL: Start at an early age. It is such a great game
SW: Give it a try. You don't have to be the tallest, fastest, or most athletic player on your indoor team to be successful in beach volleyball. There are so many opportunities available now that weren't available even a year ago. Take advantage of them. It is definitely worth the time and commitment!
KT: Approach beach volleyball with an open mind and give it a shot. Nearly everyone I know who started playing beach feared it at first, but after they got the hang of it, they began to like it more than indoor. It may seem intimidating, but it will turn you into a better player, so just go for it!