Melissa recently tried out for the new Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Casey Jennings pro tour, Platform1440 (aka p1440) this summer and made their 2nd level tier (the 1st tier is where the pro's, like Kerri will play). Allison has been honing her beach skills in local Salt Lake tournaments and has become a dominant competitor. They will be playing in their first FIVB (the international governing body for both beach and indoor volleyball) event in France the end of August!
If you haven't heard about the new p1440 tour it's worth taking a look at. Just like the MLB, NBA and NFL have development leagues this is what Casey and Kerri are trying to offer to young up-and-coming beach volleyball players! (Also, p1440 just announced that they have partnered with the FIVB to bring a 4 Star beach volleyball even to Las Vegas in October! If you're looking for a fun fall trip, take advantage of this event in our backyard and go check it out!)
Unlike other professional sports, beach volleyball is an odd duck, as players do not receive a salary from their team franchise, but rather their “salary” comes from winning tournaments (aka the cash prize) and through sponsorships. While tournament winnings and sponsorships can be very lucrative for the big dogs, like Kerri Walsh or Utah local Jake Gibb, it is incredibly tough for new players like Melissa and Allison to make professional beach volleyball a full time career.
Most players have “real jobs”, as players often joke, that have some flexibility to allow them to play in weekend AVP tournaments. Players are also tasked with paying for their own travel and accommodations to get to the tournament locations, which span across the country and in Melissa and Allison’s case across the globe. I’ve heard of 14 young women sharing one hotel room during an AVP tournament in New York City, in order to save money…imagine that for a second.
An additional problem for young teams is coaching. Again, unlike other professional sports coaches are not provided for teams; teams actually have to seek out, hire and pay for their coaching staff. This places another financial stress on young players trying to climb the greased up rope to the top of this profession. For this reason, most young teams do not have/cannot afford a coach and instead try to navigate that road themselves, which is another barrier in their progress of becoming a full time professional athlete. The p1440 tour is working to lend a hand to these young players, by providing a level of support depending on what tier they are in. This can include coaching, strength and conditioning, gear and links with sponsors; all in an effort to increase the footprint of beach volleyball as a professional sport for U.S. young athletes!
We are excited for Melissa and Allison to represent Utah and the United States at this international event! Good luck ladies!!!
If you’d like to donate towards Melissa and Allison's travel and accommodations in order to attend this international tournament you can do so via their GoFundMe campaign here.