By Gary Curreri
In the past five years, there has been an explosion of collegiate opportunities for playing beach volleyball.
Two sisters from Deerfield Beach – Alanna and Audrey Hodge – recently placed third in the AVPFirst Girls 14-Under volleyball championship on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Alanna, age 14, is a freshman at Monarch High School and has played beach volleyball for five years.
“I like beach volleyball more than indoor because you get more touches on the ball and it is fun to play with new partners to see how you do with other people,” she said.
Audrey, age 12, a seventh-grader at Boca Christian, also played beach volleyball for five years.
“There is a lot of pressure because I am playing in a higher division than I normally would,” Audrey said. “I like it because it is mostly all on you. You are responsible for half of the court.”
Shawn Taylor, of the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) and the coach at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL, said with more juniors playing the game, more and more schools are offering scholarships.
“For years it was just the pro beach tour and there was no avenue to get there, and with colleges coming in as a player, it gave juniors something to shoot for,” Taylor said. “Now with more juniors playing the game, it has provided us with an avenue to create a pipeline and a clear path for them to go from playing junior recreational to, hopefully, playing at the collegiate level and then carrying on past that to the professional level.”
Taylor said there are schools adding the sport “everyday” and estimated there were about 65 schools offering beach volleyball.
“They anticipate being at 100 (schools) in a year or two,” Taylor said. “They were at zero (schools) five years ago. It was a pipe dream and a myth. It was like crazy talk going around.”
Florida Beach Volleyball Tour tournament director Gino Ferraro is in his 27th year and hosted eight events this year – including stops in Pompano Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Siesta Key, Hollywood, and plans to hold one in Delray Beach next year.
“The season starts at the beginning of May and runs through the second week of August,” Ferraro said. “Because of the size of the field, it is hard to find beaches that will hold us anymore.”
Jeudy commits to Alabama
Deerfield Beach High School senior wideout Jerry Jeudy is taking his talents to the University of Alabama next season.
Ranked the fourth-best receiver in the nation by ESPN, Jeudy earned a spot on the all-offense team in July at Nike’s The Opening, one of the top camps in the country in Beaverton, OR It helped parlay him into a good spot to choose his next destination.
“I’m excited,” said Jeudy, who chose the Crimson Tide over Florida, Miami, Florida State University and Tennessee. The four-star recruit had offers from more than 20 different schools. “It was the best fit for me. It’s a great program with great coaches, great players and that’s a winning team. I feel like I can go there and do what I have to do and step on the field and make plays.”
“It was a very hard decision for me,” added Jeudy, who caught 41 passes for 496 yards and 10 scores last season for the Bucks. “I prayed a lot and felt that Alabama was more of a home.”
Deerfield teammate Daewood Davis, who transferred from Stranahan in the spring, previously announced he was committing to the University of South Florida.