As the longest-standing, beach-only volleyball club in Georgia, S3 Volleyball is continuing to fill its trophy case while expanding programs to reach more local players.
Among the latest opportunities for players is Friday Night Lights spring tournaments for youth ages 10 through college athletes that will take place at the club’s Badger Creek Park location. These tournaments will be sanctioned by the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), which allows players to earn points and a bid to AVP Nationals in July.
It’s no wonder the club has grown consistently through Cherokee and Cobb counties, as well as Fulton and Bartow. The newest programs have been established for younger players and high school boys. A year-round program extends from December to July, with fall and summer leagues also available. The local club’s popularity isn’t surprising, since beach volleyball is the fastest-growing NCAA Division I sport in the past five years.
S3 was founded as a beach-only volleyball club in the fall of 2014 by Bryan Jones. This means there are no indoor practices. At that time, there were about 45 collegiate beach volleyball programs in the United States, according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Currently, more than 175 schools have programs.
“While there are some obvious similarities, the skills and strategies between beach and indoor are actually very different,” Jones said. “At S3, we focus on teaching our athletes those beach-specific skills. Some other volleyball clubs are indoor clubs which also offer beach, but as far as beach-only, we are the oldest.”
Success on the Sand
While S3 players are bringing home the trophies, they are doing it in style. The club has partnered with Lululemon for new athletic wear for the year-round players.
The latest accolades include:
- S3 players Rebecca Blaydes and Kaylee Howell won the USA Volleyball American Division 18 and Under National Championship in July 2022 at the USA Volleyball Junior National Championships.
- Ashley Vincent and Carra Sassack finished fifth out of 124 pairs in the AVP National Championships, second out of 157 pairs in the Beach Volleyball Clubs of America (BVCA) National Pairs Championships and second at the AAU West Coast Junior Olympic Games. The athletes are now college freshmen and play for their universities’ beach volleyball programs; Ashley at Stanford and Carra at Florida State.
- S3 finished fifth overall in the quest to earn the National Beach Club Championship. Players and teams compete in the BVCA National Pairs Competition to earn points for their clubs; the club with the highest number of points takes the top honor.
- The club started the 2023 season strong in the BVCA Club vs. Club series, a competition that emulates collegiate beach volleyball structure. S3 won the first event; the squad won the club division tournament out of 16 nationwide competitors. The event attracted clubs from North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, New Jersey and Washington state.
Beach Training, Year-Round
S3 offers year-round and seasonal programs, with two sessions in the summer and another in the fall, to work around the high school indoor season. Teams compete in tournaments in metro Atlanta and across the country.
S3 is gearing up for the Summer Elite, Summer Volley and Sand Sharks programs, which will kick off the 2023 summer season in May and June. “We would love to have some new faces join our S3 family,” Jones said. Visit the website for registration links to these programs, which are designed for beginners through advanced, college-ready players.
Another emphasis for S3 is helping club members — at no extra charge — realize their dream of playing on a collegiate level.
“We have helped to place more players in collegiate beach volleyball programs than any other club in the state of Georgia or in the Southern Region (Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama),” Jones said.
The Owners of S3
“We love beach volleyball and wanted to share the game that has meant so much to us with others,” Bryan said of himself and co-owners Dave Woolsteen and Kevin McClure. “We also believe the game teaches our athletes some extremely valuable life lessons: how hard work pays off, communication skills, independence, working with others.”
Bryan Jones, director, has been teaching for 24 years, has more than 27 years of playing and coaching experience, and has certifications from USA Volleyball. He’s the beach volleyball chairperson for the Junior Volleyball Association. Bryan is head volleyball coach at Etowah High School; he coached the team at Pope High School for 15 years, where he led the team to three state championships.
Dave Woolsteen has been playing beach volleyball for more than 25 years, beginning in college and working up to playing in the Open division. He has traveled up and down the East Coast playing on various pro-am tours, and has won numerous Open tournament titles. He also has competed on the AVP qualifier tour.
Kevin McClure first became interested in volleyball as a student in 1976, but it didn’t take hold until he worked for IBM and played in the company league. He became one of the Southeast’s best outside hitters, playing in what eventually became the Southern Regional Volleyball Association. He is an NCAA beach and indoor volleyball referee.
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