By Andy J. Gordon
A great event took place at Dockweiler Beach in El Segundo on Saturday, September 12, 2009. The seventh Annual Jayo Invitational Celebrity Pro-Am beach volleyball tournament (www.volleyforacause.org) helped to raise funds and awareness for three worthy charities.
Jason Olive, founder of the Jayo Invitational, created the tournament as a way to give back to the fans, the community and the players who played the game over the years.
Jason was an All-American volleyball player at University of Hawaii, a successful fashion model, and has appeared in several TV shows. He has put his personal interests, business connections, and industry contacts to good use by creating this tournament, which offers a rare opportunity for fans to play along with pros and celebrities. And it’s always all about raising monies for some great causes.
This year’s event benefited the Walk Now for Autism Orange County (www.walknowforautism.org/); HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere; www.hopecampaign.org), an energy-conscious humanitarian organization that promotes education and growth around the world; and the Sinjin Smith Volleyball Academy HAX in Hawthorne. Smith’s academy gives financial aid to children who want the opportunity to play club volleyball (www.haxvb.com and www.haxvb.com/financialaid.html), but are unable to afford it.
Things kicked off on the cloudy morning with a kid’s clinic led by Hall of Famer and beach legend Smith. About 150 kids had a great time learning basic volleyball skills from Sinjin and several AVP pros. Al Hannemann, who runs the kids clinics for the AVP, led the stretching and warm-up session. Other AVP pros taught skill stations for passing, setting, spiking, and serving. AVP pros in attendance included Chris Harger, Hans Stolfus, Ryan Mariano, Austin Rester, Christina Hinds, Angela Lewis, Matt Heagy, Anthony Medel, Seth Burnham, Ran Kumgisky, Mark Kerins, and Jeff Murrell. Murrell also provided the musical entertainment throughout the day with his DJ set up. Other pros included US Indoor National team players Rich Lambourne, Brook Billings, Australian Indoor National team setter Brett Alderman, and USC Men’s Assistant Coach Chuck Moore.
After the skill sessions, the pros let the kids play games for a while. At the conclusion of the clinic, Jason Olive thanked the kids and pros, and threw a few gift volleyballs to the kids. As part of the eco-awareness portion of the event, Jason told the kids that in order to get lunch, they had to pick up one piece of trash from the beach. The kids gathered trash, collected their lunches, and then went down to the ocean for a surfing demonstration by Pro Surfers James Pribram, who created the Eco Warrior Foundation (www.ecowarriorsurf.com), Tyler Hatzikian, and Das Jesson. Throughout the rest of the day, the kids (and some adults, too) got autographs from the pros and celebs, while watching more volleyball action.
The sun broke through the clouds as the adult volleyball portion of the day began. Jason Olive assigned a pro and celebrity to each 6-person team. The celebrities that played included “CSI NY” star AJ Buckley; “Fringe”’s Roger Cross; Nick Gonzales, Sean Sipos, and Victor Webster from “Melrose Place”; “The Bold and the Beautiful” star Winsor Harmon; Galen Gering of “Days of Our Lives” fame; “Beach King”’s Court Day; plus film and TV stars Clayne Crawford, Sean Faris, Jesse Garcia, Andrew Keegan, Lauren Mayhew, J Eddie Peck, Al Santos, Kyle Schmid, and Travis Aaron Wade.
Also on hand to try their fortune at volleyball were former L. A. Laker and new head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves Kurt Rambis and former Chicago White Sox pitcher Grady Hall. The tournament had a few special rules and competitive twists. A woman had to be on the court at all times, making the women pros valuable to have as team captains. At any time during the tournament, teams could “rent” more pros in an effort to win their games. As with all money collected for the event, rental fees went straight to the charities.
As the volleyball action continued, players and fans were able to browse through and sample a variety of products at the sponsor tents. They could also bid on a number of autographed items up for auction. Eco-sponsors included Hansen’s, DogsWell, Natural High, Clif Bar, OutSide Labs, and Amazon Herb Co. Corporate sponsors included Smack, VB Super Store, Vox Entertainment, Sharkeez, Red Bull, Budweiser, Glacial Water, Mikasa, Asics, Tesla Motors, Peet’s Coffee, Maui Wowi, NYX Cosmetics, Volleyball Magazine, Ocean Financial, and www.CobbleStay.com.
The tournament wrapped up with two squads of pros facing off against each other in a final showdown. It was a heated battle, but everyone left a winner because three charities received new funds to further their efforts. Many of the pros and fans moved on to the player’s party at Baja Sharkeez in Manhattan Beach (www.sharkeez.net). After a long day, it was good to relax over a beer or two and reminisce about playing with the famous athletes and stars.
For a chance to show your volleyball chops with the pros, mix it up with some celebs, or just help a worthy cause, keep an eye out for next summer’s annual Jayo Invitational. It is sure to include a packed lineup of stars, and will once again raise money for more worthy community charities. What better way to spend a day at the beach?
Photos by Will Springfield, Gregory Prescott, and Morgan Chapman, courtesy of Jayo International.