Local Kids Soak Up Sun and Skills with USC Sand Volleyball

    Sara Hughes and Paige Hines (background) share their skills with local kids.

    Nov. 6, 2013

    Despite early clouds, the sky cleared up for a sunny day at Merle Noman Stadium this week as the Sand Volleyball team hosted a free clinic for local kids. The brightness allowed young girls to imitate the beach volleyball greats they admire: sunglasses on, hair tied back, and plenty of sunscreen passed around. Sprinkle in a handful of world-class USC athletes and balls donated by the team, and the afternoon had all the necessary ingredients to give local kids the real Sand Volleyball experience.

    Co-hosted by USA Beach Volleyball, the clinic welcomed 48 kids for a skills session as well as an educational opportunity. AVP star John Mayer served as coach, while Kati Duddridge, Paige Hines, Sara Hughes, Nicolette Martin, Alexa Stonish provided perfect models for passing, spiking, setting, and serving drills.

    After a couple hours of activity in the sand, the kids took a break in the shade while they learned a bit about USC's SCORE Initiative. Touching on subjects of academics, teamwork, and nutrition, the USC women explained the holistic commitment of a Trojan. When one girl asked if they ever had to do homework, the college students smiled. "Every day," said Stonish, "We have to work hard in school to stay on the court." The young audience sought advice on encouraging teammates, balancing competition and exam schedules, and eating healthily before matches.

    At the end of the day, the attendees left with a new volleyball courtesy of Coach Anna Collier, on top of an autographed poster and a SCORE notebook. The team plans to host a second clinic on November 24th, and due to popular demand, they've added a third that same day. As word travels around the Los Angeles community, these athletes will be able to inspire a generation of volleyball talent both on and off the beach.