Updated: Apr 24
I want to start this article by giving a huge thank you to p1440. For those of you that do not know what p1440 is, it is a digital platform founded by Kerri Walsh-Jennings and husband Casey Jennings structured around growing the game of volleyball, and more specifically beach volleyball. They publish a lot of different content, host tournaments and events, and most importantly for us they offer training for post-college professional athletes. They took on over 80 athletes who are out of college or beginning their professional careers and provided training twice a week with high level Olympic coaches, intrasquad tournaments to allow athletes to compete, strength training, physical therapy, and seminars all for free! It seems insane that a company could provide all this. Honestly, I don't know how they do it but I am extremely thankful. Beyond these amazing opportunities p1440 also offered me so many connections with other athletes all in similar stages in their careers and lives as myself. To be surrounded by like minded individuals is so inspiring, encouraging, and made my transition to my post-collegiate "professional" career a lot more enjoyable.
Although I finished my collegiate career at USC playing beach volleyball for 1.5 years, I did not grow up playing beach volleyball and specifically not in California. Thus, unlike everyone else that grows up playing in the US, I did not know any other players and they didn't know me. When I first decided to stay in California to start my post collegiate career I thought it would be simple to train; " I could play with former USC grads or current players", I thought. Little did I know that people have set training groups and/or personal coaches. Slowly my partner and I got introduced to new players and training groups but it was not until I joined p1440 that I realized how large the pool of players was. Coming from Toronto where the pool of training partners is no more than 20 people, I was shocked to learn about all the training options in Southern California. Just in p1440 there is 40 girls, majority of which played in college and continue to train year round, then outside of p1440 there is more former college players training with personal coaches, AVP athletes, former professional players not competing anymore but still training for fun, visiting international teams, and even high school players who are extremely talented. I knew Southern California was the hub for beach volleyball but I never expected this. Through p1440 i got invited to many group training sessions, scrimmages, extra conditioning sessions, and even got invited to train with Kerri herself. Talk about a childhood dream come true.
Beyond training opportunities P1440 has introduced me to so many high level coaches, a lot of which have coached or played at the Olympic level. To be able to learn from and work with so many different coaches made my decision to stay in California worth it alone. A huge thank you to my p1440 coaches, Coach Pompilio and Coach Arthur, for their endless support and enthusiasm.
Additionally, outside of volleyball, p1440 has brought me new friendships. Being from Canada and only having gone to university for 1.5 years here I did not have very many friends in Los Angeles which made it very hard to feel at home here. P1440 changed this and introduced me to so many amazing, kind, and welcoming individuals. I truly feel like I have a community that I can identify with and rely upon. The athletes, coaches, admin, media staff, honestly everyone in p1440 are such a driven, focused, motivated, and positive group that really inspire me to follow my passion in this sport. It is definitely hard to wake up at 5 AM for practices, but the moment I get there and am surrounded by 9 hard working athletes and 2 extremely hard working coaches I am motivated to give my all.
However, living in the states as a Canadian does not come without its challenges. Not only can we not work but we can not play in the AVP. This is a huge downfall and disappointment to us as we train all year with players who compete on the AVP and help them prepare, just to have to sit back and watch them compete. Thus, I applied for my professional athlete visa in order to allow me to play on the AVP. After lots of paperwork and lawyer fees, I am no closer to playing on the tour. Legally my visa allows me to play and accept prize money, but the AVP as a federation still restricts anyone without citizenship or a green card from playing. You can imagine how frustrating it is to live somewhere, train somewhere, pay to legally be able to compete somewhere, and still be denied access.
All I can hope is this changes one day but for now I am so appreciative of even having the opportunity to train here. Fortunately, p1440 has opened their programs to all countries giving anyone the chance to follow their dream and giving them amazing opportunities to compete. I am so thankful that I made this decision to stay in Los Angeles to start my career and I can say with confidence that any athlete looking to train in California with p1440 will not be disappointed.