iBeach31: Popular Venue Is Growing the Sport of Beach Volleyball
Photographer / BriAnna Seefeldt
Dedicated to raising awareness of and growing the sport of beach volleyball, iBeach31 offers play opportunities for all ages and levels. The facility at 17341 Westfield Park Road has six pro-level courts filled with 18 inches of white sand. From April through October, participants can take part in clubs, clinics and camps. Team building opportunities are available for businesses and organizations as well as court rentals for private parties such as birthdays and family reunions.
Now in its third season, the sports venue opened in April 2018. It is owned by three couples: Katie and Bart Conner, Brittaney and David Bunch and Maureen and Kevin Griffin. Sports-minded Westfield was the obvious choice for the location of iBeach31.
“Katie Conner has been in the volleyball world most of her life,” says Brittaney Bunch, co-owner and Operations Manager. “This is her dream and vision. We all decided to take a leap and do it with her. Through the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, we have built relationships with the community and it has worked out really well.”
The sport of beach volleyball rapidly gained popularity after being a demonstration event in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. By 1996, it was an official Olympic sport. Players trade in a large, hard-surface indoor court for a smaller, outdoor sandy area. The sand adds another dimension to the traditional skills of passing, serving and spiking. In addition, the balls used are softer, lighter and slightly bigger so they have more float time while players deal with the wind and sun.
“Sand brings a different element and being outside in the sand is just a ton of fun,” Bunch says. “There are some different technical rules, but the main skills and net height are the same as indoor volleyball. At the true competitive level, beach volleyball has two people on the court at a time, so players must play every position as they rotate out.”
The venue provides several different opportunities for people to play, or even just try, beach volleyball. Adults can sign up as a team or just as a solo player. Open play nights are held several times a month for teens. There are clubs, clinics and camps for school children of all ages. Tournaments for juniors and adults are held every weekend and at least once a year a pro or semi-pro tournament is hosted.
iBeach31 is also available for private parties such as birthdays or family reunions as well as team-building retreats for companies or organizations. Leadership coaches are sourced out to facilitate team-building exercises. Several area sports teams, churches and even the Westfield High School National Honor Society have participated in these events.
“It really helps that we are outside, but we are still taking COVID-19 precautions like having hand sanitizer available and taking coaches temperatures,” Bunch says. “Our Friday night open play is a good time to come and check us out without commitment. I heard a mother say the best thing was that kids didn’t get on their phones, they just played and had a blast.”
iBeach31 is located at 17341 Westfield Park Road. For more information, visit them online at iBeach31.com or call 317-530-3005.