It’s Always A Good Day at Volleyball Beach
By Jill Draper
It’s always a good day, Howard Barewin remembers thinking at the beginning of April, when the leaves come out of storage and get put back on the fake palm trees that rim the deck of Volleyball Beach. The next day was not so good, however. It snowed.
While the spring leagues got off to a late start this month, the 14 sand volleyball courts at 13105 Holmes Rd. are now in full swing. Several thousand co-ed teams are registered to play at three levels of skill. New colorful nets are up, siding on the south end has been replaced, sand (200 tons!) has been delivered and the bathrooms have been remodeled.
“There’s a good energy out here,” says Barewin, a former attorney in his early 50s who owns the facility which backs up to freight railroad tracks instead of the ocean. No matter. He says a beach culture—an easy mix of relaxed fun and adrenaline—prevails among players who range in age from 18 to 70.
“Volleyball is a great sport because you don’t need a lot of equipment or training and you can do it with your friends,” he says. “We’re all here to have a good time.”
He describes the wide courtside deck as the best in town. The fake palm fronds rustle in the breeze and upbeat music rotates from a 300-song playlist—mostly rock and hip hop, with an occasional sing-along inspired by Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
A thin film of sand covers the barroom floor (trekked in by teams playing barefoot) and the ceiling is decorated with T-shirts, inflatable sharks, snorkel masks, a rubber chicken and of course, volleyballs. In 2013 the bar won a Pitch magazine award for serving some of the coldest beer in the city.
Barewin, who joined a league there with friends 25 years ago, was hooked from the start. “We played on Thursday nights,” he says, “and on Friday mornings we could hardly wait to play again.” He later did some legal work for the owner, and when the facility came up for sale in 2010, he bought it.
He thought it would be a hobby, but managing the leagues and keeping up the 30-year-old building has become a full-time job. He stopped practicing law three years ago.
In addition to the league players, Volleyball Beach hosts employees on team-building outings from companies like Burns & McDonnell, Cerner, Sprint, Honeywell and others. There are frequent weekend fundraising tournaments for local nonprofits, and sometimes weddings and receptions.
The courts are open for walk-in groups from 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, which coincides with happy hour. See volleyballbeach.com for information.