I grew up playing soccer. I loved soccer. I had played for the Olympic Development Program, and up until I broke my leg, I really thought I had a future playing it in college. I had been the leading scorer on every team I had ever played on. I put in more hours than pretty much every kid I knew trying to develop my game. I had a course in my neighborhood that was 10 miles that I would run on days when I didn't have practice. I had VHS tapes of foot skill drills that I would watch and practice. I did everything I could think of in training. My parents didn't have a ton of money, but they scraped what they had together and took me everywhere I needed to go to help me to follow my dream. Breaking my leg ended that dream. I was never the same player mentally or physically. I even went to a psychologist to try to get myself right again. I just never could.
In 2001 I was trying to figure out what to do after finally healing from a broken leg I had suffered playing soccer. I had no idea what was next for me, but I definitely knew I still had a desire to be a competitive athlete. I started playing volleyball at the Flagstaff Athletic Club and was hooked. There were a lot of people that were instrumental in me becoming a volleyball player but none more than Shane Miller. Shane had ALSO played soccer. He and his older brother Jason were my rivals in the city my last year playing there. In fact, I'm pretty sure they tried to fight me in the parking lot after the city championship. Somehow Shane and I decided to join forces in volleyball and we were a team to be reckoned with. We played in as many tournaments in Arizona as we could! We worked out way up from A to Open and were competitive.
One day the EVP tour came to Glendale. Yes, the EVP, not the AVP. Shane and I saw the tournament and decided to register. When we originally registered for the event, we registered to play in the top division offered that was below professional. As we saw the registration list for the professional draw, we changed our minds. Shane called up the tournament director and asked to move us into "Pro".
We showed up at the tournament and, being that we had zero experience at that level and zero points, we were seeded dead last. Well, for those of you who know tournaments of any kind, you know that the last seed plays the 1 seed in the first round. We drew the reigning MVP of the EVP. He and his partner were "tour" players for their tour and traveled making money on that circuit. Shane and I had nothing to lose. We went out and battled as hard as we could. it was surprisingly a very good game. We lost 18-21, 19-21. Even though we lost, we were incredibly excited! Being that we didn't know much about the inner workings of beach volleyball at that point, I'm pretty sure we thought we had just played the best team in the country and had almost won. This was not the case. The EVP tour is NOT the AVP tour. I think not knowing that inspired us to play more and train harder thinking we were that close! It was a pretty fun first experience. The local paper even did an article on us! And that's how the madness began.
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