CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. — Two-hundred sand volleyball athletes from all over the country are competing on Clearwater Beach and getting some Olympic-level inspiration.
The athletes range from 12 years old to the collegiate level and they’re getting insight from a woman that’s well known on the global stage: Kerri Walsh Jennings, a 5-time Olympian, and 3-time gold medalist. She started the p1440 program to teach young athletes about volleyball and life. p1440 is a play-off of there being 1,440 minutes in the day and making the most of each minute.
“It changed my life having these opportunities in front of me so for me to play a small role in the journey of these athletes' careers is enormous,” she explained.
A big focus of the p1440 program is on scholarship and prize money because it can get very expensive for the athletes to play at the club level.
“The average family with kids playing club sports spends 10-11% of their income on travel expenses and coaching and playing. We don’t think that’s a sustainable thing for community-level kids,” added Robert Long, the P1440 Volleyball Relations Director.
P1440 will be giving out $140,000 in scholarships to 40 athletes. The nets the young women are playing on are set up with live streams for college coaches to watch and recruit.
“Especially being in college now I think it’s so awesome because this was never a thing when I was in juniors ever and I think it’s an awesome opportunity for them,” said Jordan Smith who plays volleyball at the University of South Carolina.
A big focus of the program is creating athletes who are well-rounded outside of the court with a focus on teamwork, confidence and handling pressure.
“All those things we saw with Simone Biles this year at the Olympics that mentality means a whole lot and we are finally not afraid to talk about those things,” Long elaborated.
Walsh Jennings hopes to continue inspiring athletes around the country with the lessons she’s learned along the way.
“Just because you have a bad game or a bad practice, doesn’t mean you should have a bad life. This is something that as a 43-year-old athlete I still tell myself daily. We’ve seen the development of these young ladies in their personal lives, in the classroom and on the court and it truly means the world to me,” Walsh Jennings added.
Walsh Jennings gained fame while competing with her longtime playing partner Misty May Treanor.
You can read more about the p1440 program and upcoming events here: https://www.p1440.com