For the third year a row, St. Monica Middle School’s girls’ volleyball team has hosted a fundraiser tournament benefiting a charity chosen by the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour. On October 20, well over 100 players, coaches, and parents representing 16 Southern California schools converged on the Seahawk’s campus. At day’s end, St. Thomas-Apostle of Los Angeles was the tournament winner.
But the biggest winner was Padres Contra El Cancer (Parents Against Cancer), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit committed to improving the quality of life for Latino children with cancer and their parents. St. Monica’s tournament raised several thousand dollars for the charity through entry fees, donations, and other revenue, according to event organizer Erin Barnhill.
Prior to the commencement of competition, the young volleyball players (grades 6-8) were treated to a skills demonstration by AVP superstars Christopher St. John “Sinjin” Smith and Randy Stoklos, the all-time winningest men’s beach volleyball duo. In addition, AVP Tour women’s volleyball star Angie Akers was presented with the St. Monica Seahawk Scholar and Athlete Award. Akers attended Norte Dame University where she was a standout on the women’s varsity volleyball team while maintaining a high GPA. She has since made the transition to two-player beach volleyball and won AVP Tour Rookie of the Year honors in 2002.
Once a casual recreational activity, two-person beach volleyball is now played on sand in countries around the world. The event was added to the summer Olympics starting in 1996 and Sinjin Smith, along with then-partner Carl Henkel, became the first American team to qualify for the Olympics.