June 2021

Cabrillo Beach Volleyball Player Alana Patyk

by Alana Patyk

There was a time in my life where I absolutely despised the beach. The coarse feeling of sand that dried out my feet and left me with heat blisters was not the way I wanted to spend my day.

As a kid, I attempted to play beach volleyball as another way to stay active when I was not playing indoor volleyball. Immediately upon touching the sand, even before doing a drill, I found out that beach volleyball is not an easy sport. Before competing at a collegiate level, I even tried to avoid it if I could. But there was something that was urging me to give it a chance.

So, I gave it about five or so chances. Every time I went to an SC Beach Summer camp as a kid, the one week that I spent there was enough for me until the following year when I would participate in the camp again. Moving in the sand is already a workout on its own; adding jumping, sprinting, and diving made things even more challenging. And as a young tween who never did any weight lifting or conditioning, it was very easy for me to give up because I was not naturally good at the transition from indoor to sand. This put me in a tough spot since I figured that I would be able to handle the change with ease— it definitely was not as simple as I thought.
Despite the obstacles, I continued to go to those camps every day. Even though I struggled to get a firm grasp on the fundamentals and the physical aspect of the sport, I felt that every touch was leading me somewhere.

And that it did.

Today, I play beach and indoor volleyball for Cabrillo College. After high school, I thought I was never going to play again and that my senior season at Aptos High was going to be my last.

Then an opportunity presented itself. Head Coach Kelsee Montagna and the Cabrillo coaching staff brought me on to play indoor and beach volleyball as a representative of the college and its athletics. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, our indoor season was postponed until Fall 2021 but luckily, we are able to continue with our beach season.

At first, I doubted my abilities and figured that I would never make the connection with the sand. Once winter break came around, I was at Main Beach every day playing until I could not move. Every touch and every repetition was leading me somewhere and it led me to leveling up my game.

By the time I came back from the break, I was jumping higher, swinging harder, and moving faster than I ever have. With the help and support of the Santa Cruz beach community and the conditioning that went into preparing the beach volleyball team for our season, I was able to overcome my self-doubt and dive head first into the sport that has made me a better person and a better player.

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