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Life is beach volleyball for Alex Kelly this summer
Alex Kelly
Alex Kelly

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No one is kicking sand in the face of Lipscomb volleyball player Alex Kelly as she explores the outdoor side of the game this summer in Southern California.

Kelly is spending the summer in South Bay near Los Angeles as an intern with “The Net Live” and the “Volleyball Network”. Her work can be seen and heard on the Internet and also through ITunes. But she has also had time to try her hand at beach volleyball while also participating in a new workout regimen.

The web network is operated by Reid Priddy, a 2008 Olympic gold medal winner, and Kevin Barnett, a two-time Olympian who is also a volleyball announcer. Barnett and Brandon Rosenthal, coach of the Lipscomb Lady Bisons, are friends. Rosenthal suggested to Barnett that he bring in Kelly as an intern.

“I was searching for an internship and I really couldn’t find one that interested me,” Kelly, a marketing major, said. “I was getting offers to sell different things and I really didn’t want to do that. It was great to be able to do this.

“It was tough to be here the first couple of weeks. But I have met a lot of new people. It is awesome. I have a pretty wide range of friends here of all ages. The summer has gone too fast.”

Kelly, from Kansas City, Mo., has been filming interviews with a number of volleyball players with the majority of her work revolving around the men’s United States National Team.

Kelly's focus is promoting the sport

Barnett has been pleased with Kelly’s ability to do so many things from a media standpoint.

“We are trying to increase the visibility of volleyball between events,” Barnett said. “There isn’t the chatter about the sport between events as there is about football, basketball, baseball and hockey.

“One of the things we are hoping to do is to contribute to the conversation about the sport. There are plenty of people reporting the scores, but there are not a lot of people with any sort of credibility talking about the sport or analyzing the sport outside the broadcasting of events.”

Rosenthal thought Kelly would benefit from the experience. Barnett knows his web site has benefited from Kelly’s work.

“We needed someone to work on production between shows and someone to work on producing content, contests and doing promotions,” Barnett said. “We built an O.K. audience through word of mouth, but in the past six weeks we have had Alex working to help us increase our audience.

“She has been doing interviews and cutting videos. It has been a multi-media opportunity for her. We put her on camera to do a report on the national training center.”

Beach volleyball has been a challenge

The adjustment to beach volleyball has been an eye-opening experience for Kelly, the two-time Atlantic Sun Player of the Year. Trying to jump in the sand is much different than the indoor version of the game on hardwood.

“It is a totally different game,” Kelly said. “I feel like I’m a pretty good indoor player, but going to the beach is totally different. It is so mentally frustrating. I am not happy with what I am doing right now.

“People who watch me haven’t seen me play volleyball before. They don’t know that I actually know how to play. They say `Oh, you are doing great!’ “

She tries to play two or three times a week, but her free time is usually during the day and that makes it difficult to find anyone to play against. She does think she is making improvements in her level of play though she is not happy with her performance level at this stage of her development.

“I think if I give it a shot I can be successful at it,” Kelly said. “You have to realize you are going to be a lot slower in the sand and that you can’t jump as high. You can’t do what you are used to doing in the indoor game. I just have to practice and get more experience.”

Barnett has talked to his friends who watched Kelly in her debut as a beach volleyball player and based on their comments he knows she is better than she thinks.

“This experience has been good for her not only from a standpoint of career opportunities, but also exploring volleyball and life after volleyball,” Barnett said. “She has aspirations to play professionally in indoor volleyball for a couple of years and she has had opportunities to talk to people about that and meet some national team athletes.

“She had never really been in touch with beach volleyball on any kind of level. When she first tried to play it was awesome to hear her reaction to trying to jump and move in the sand. She was talking about how bad she was. But I talked to a couple of guys, who are experienced beach volleyball players who were out there with her and they said she did great. They think she is going to be really good at it.”

Rosenthal thinks beach game will be a plus for Kelly

Rosenthal, whose Lady Bisons will be seeking their both their second straight Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament titles this season, is anxious to see how Kelly’s work with the beach game has improved her game for her senior season.

“I don’t think it is going to hurt her at all,” Rosenthal said. “I think it is going to help her. But we will have to wait and see to what degree it helps her.

“When I was out there the first thing I noticed was how strong she looked. She has been working with CrossFit which is a body weight kind of workout. Summer is long and lifting and working out can get monotonous so it is exciting to see a player as accomplished as she is trying something new.”

Rosenthal thinks that Kelly has all the skills to be able to perform at a competitive level in beach volleyball.

“When she goes to play beach volleyball people don’t know how good she is,” Rosenthal said. “It is a little frustrating to her. For an indoor player it is the most humbling thing you can do. She is eager to improve herself.

“Alex will tell you she isn’t playing very well, but when you talk to people out there and get the other side of the story you start to realize she has done pretty well. In her eyes she has a long way to go, and she does, but not as long as she makes it out to be some times.”

Dan Madden, a very well-known beach player who co-hosts one of the shows on the web site, was amazed at her ability to adjust so quickly to playing on sand.

“Dan knew she was a middle player,” Rosenthal said. “Playing two-on-two you have to be able to do more than just block and hit. He realized she could do more than just be a middle player. He realized she was pretty good.

“Alex has a tremendous instinct for the game. She has the desire to learn and to win. Physically, she could be paired up with a lot of different people. Her ability to pass and play defense are so strong. She was the second leading digger on the team and she only played three rotations. She also has the agility and quickness and the ability to hit a lot of different sets. She comes to the table with a huge amount of athleticism which helps her move in the sand.”

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.