“This is just the beginning:“ Stanford beach volleyball continues to reach record highs

Andrew Fuller has been involved in college women’s beach volleyball since the first program, Long Beach State, was established in 2012. He was also involved in the launch of the USC program. where it grew into a government building. So when Fuller returned to the Bay Area before the 2017 season to practice for Stanford beach volleyball, he was still in his childhood, where expectations were high. And building on the Stanford program he created: with two NCAA tournament championships right under their belts, the Cardinals have only improved each year and they can quickly talk about a good program. most of the nation.

In the tenth year of the program, the Cardinals have won 24 games – improving on a one -year record for winning games – and qualified for their second straight NCAA tournament in 2022. Although they did not win the team to a game in the tournament, suitable for The Second Year is a self -fulfilling prophecy, as the team is the newest at Stanford.

The list of accomplishments is also long: Kate Reilly and Maya Harvey created a one -time record for most of the games won; Reilly and Xolani Hodel started the story of most career successes as a couple; and the Cardinals recorded their program record for most postseason honors with five. Reilly said, while expectations are higher this season, “I thought we could have done something more, but overall, looking back, I think there was a lot going on. we do something to be proud of. “

“In general, I would say we had a better time than we’ve had before,” Charlie Ekstrom said. “I think it ended up somewhere better on the memo than we’d like it to just because we had that kind of taste of being on top of the competition.”

Better than the Cardinal’s target in 2022 is that their 2021 season is well -planned. After most of 2020 was cut short due to COVID disease -19, beach volleyball players were scattered around the United States with no team to train with. The Stanford athletes return to campus in 2021, just in time for a three -week preseason. The team’s preseason is 16 weeks – so the Cardinals have not only returned from nearly a year of training, but they are expected to jump back into the tournament with a minimum of 20 minutes. % of their usual preseason.

“Our teams did an amazing job preparing themselves for the season,” Fuller said. “It’s a real testament to their approach and determination to prepare themselves without really learning from the Stanford staff.”

Although team training didn’t begin until the spring of 2021, Reilly, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., Said most of his teammates live together in Southern California and sometimes come together to train. pū. With a long way to go in 2021, the team has teamed up to set a school record for full wins at one time with 23 to reach its first NCAA Championship tournament.

Fuller contributes a large portion of the company’s business, more than the past two years, to recording.

“I’ve been fortunate to be involved with the national team system, that program, for a long time and I’ve been able to get to some of the highest levels of youth sports,” Fuller explained. Six players are currently on the Stanford roster who joined the USA Volleyball Development Program or the National League at some point before going on the farm, according to the roster. found at GoStanford.

Ekstrom said the number of players on the team has increased significantly since its first year in 2018, and while the talent has also grown, the team does not trust the volleyball players inside to play. at beach volleyball at the fountain. Different.

When Ekstrom first went to Stanford, the team included only 10 beach players at the time, and three volleyball players were in around the line – but by the end of the season, it was There are only 10 healthy athletes among beach athletes only. and those who played volleyball in the fall. Currently, the team has 18 players, all of whom just play on the beach.

“For the first time, we were more than one person who didn’t walk,” Ekstrom said. “Our team has grown in depth over the past four years. It’s exciting to look back.

Reilly said as the depth of the team grew and the program was well established, the team culture shifted. He said there are now “more sales and we are trying to encourage each other to be better and better.”

As a four-year freshman and two seasons All-American, Ekstrom has been instrumental in changing the team culture. The team was a losing streak in his first season in 2019, as he fought hard and took good care of the players.

“We weren’t counted at the end of my freshman year, we didn’t come in without a count, but it was a tough season,” he said. “That’s one of those bad roads.”

“I know my class,” he said. “When we met before the start of the season, we were so happy to be back on campus to meet everyone just because we were so happy to be sold as we were. work to inspire and work with low -income students.

Fuller’s role as head coach has been smooth as the company has grown. He explained his mentor “let’s see what we have and then try and support and improve it.”

But while all has gone well for Stanford in recent seasons, it hasn’t had any serious problems every year. The beach volleyball team is not immune to the mental health problems seen by many athletes. Fuller said the hardest thing he faced at Stanford, aside from the problems of retention, was Stanford’s culture of “hard work,” which can have a negative impact on his players.

In an attempt to combat the sheer complexity of everyday life on the Farm, Fuller took Professor Fred Luskin to speak with the group every Tuesday in 2022. Luskin is a lecturer at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and a leader of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. She always gives talks about the importance of the heart and managing stress.

Although Luskin is not a physician, like the psychiatrists that students can learn at CAPS or Stanford Sports Psychology, Ekstrom said that through practices such as mindfulness, Luskin has helped group “to put things into perspective.”

“It gives us solid models, or opportunities to have fun or fun or happiness in the smallest of things,” he continued. “It’s better to change the way you think with gratitude or appreciation.”

Reilly summed it up by saying “[Luskin] Tuesday’s preparation is always different, in a good way. He said his peers were “more inclined to let go of the consequences or to blame themselves” and that his discussions were always in touch with the group.

The team will now look to build on the best things from this season, as the youth team heads into next season with a new year of NCAA tournament under its belt and three seniors – Ekstrom , Maddie Dailey and Jordan McKinney – planning to return. to complete co-terminal master’s degrees next year.

Fuller said this year’s team is about 50-60% underclassmen, with 12 of the 18 players on the roster in their first or second year in 2022, according to a list at GoStanford . Fuller, Ekstrom and Reilly also pointed out that the beach volleyball program will bring a phenomenal training program next year, featured by players such as Ashley Vincent, Line Andersson and Kelly Berardi.

As for the team’s goals, the Cardinal has progressed from the prospect of winning the NCAA Championship to the hope of winning games in the tournament and returning a national title to the Farm – a testament to the tremendous growth the company over the past few years. Reilly said Stanford was the only two Pac-12 schools that did not win, UCLA and USC, two power programs from Southern California that combined six Pac-12 Championship titles, six sports appearances. government leaders and six government names among them. . He said one of Cardinal’s goals was to win those programs.

Now, players have the summer to continue training and begin their season eight months from now, in February 2023.

“I think this is just the beginning,” Fuller said. “We’re nowhere near as good as we can go.”

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