My ex-boyfriend of five years broke up with me September 2007. From that September to December I just survived, cried, and drank a lot of cheap red wine. So my new year’s resolution was to start taking more classes and getting to know some new people. Both my ex and I were into cycling, and used to ride by the beach volleyball courts and watched people playing. It looked like so much fun, so I signed up for an indoor class to get some fundamental skills.
After that class ended, I went straight to beach volleyball classes and haven’t played indoors since.
I became obsessed quickly and took every class I possibly could. When I started I was still employed full time, but was laid off about nine months later, and continued to take lessons. I also trained/played with friends as much as I could, trying to get involved in the social circle surrounding the game. Since it was 2008, many people in the area were also laid off, so we played during the week all the time. I think when I did my taxes one year, I calculated that I had spent $1600 on classes. Yeah.
I trained and played so much, I got good very quickly, and started playing competitive tournaments my second year. I earned my “A” rating, and re-rated last year (you need to earn it every year by placing at a certain level in a tournament). Ratings in the beach volleyball world are kind of a status symbol. A lot of people base your beach volleyball worth (like it or not) on what kind of rating you have. But that’s a whole long, unrelated blog.
There are two reasons everything changed this year.
One, my personality on the court, especially in tournaments, was beginning to suck. Because my career/financial life was in so much turmoil, I couldn’t separate my struggle and leave it off the court. I was overcompensating that part of my life lacking, so I became a perfectionist in games. I would get mad at my partners easily, or I would get visibly frustrated with myself if I messed up. If I couldn’t have the money and career, then I would be an amazing athlete. What a treat, huh?
I started to get a reputation that I was intense to play with, and I didn’t look like I was having much fun. By the end of tournament season last October, I was burned out and didn’t enjoy playing as much. And I was disappointed that I couldn’t achieve a higher rating.
The second reason was money. In essence it’s a cheap sport. You need a ball, some lines, and people. But the reality is there are so many hidden costs surrounding the sport if you’re not careful.
First there are the classes. Generally speaking they run year round and cost aprox. $90 for an eight week session. It’s really the best place to meet other players who are at your level, so you can set up games outside of class. I pretty much took classes for 3 1/3 years, year round.
It’s a very social sport. You can almost think of it like a high school. Everyone kind of knows each other, but there are definite groups or cliques, especially based on how good or bad you play. So there is a pressure, especially when you first start, to get to know as many people as possible so you are “included” in future invites to either social events or games. That means going out to eat/drinks/parties A LOT!
I was actually pretty tame in my going out activities, and it still cost me a TON of money, especially eating out. I was always afraid of missing out if I went home, and truthfully I wasn’t even thinking much about a budget, even though I really needed to.
It also hurt my wallet when it came to apparel. There is definitely a “look” you aspire to when you start to play a lot. For me that meant a lot of cute tank tops, shorts, and bikinis.
And don’t forget the sunscreen. Buckets and buckets of sunscreen.
Tournaments themselves don’t cost a ton per say, but that adds up too. I played aprox. two per month (March-Oct), which was about $42/month. But there is the extra sunscreen, food, going out to eat after because you’re starving, beer to celebrate if you did well, gas, and parking.
Another hidden factor was the time it took away from me doing things I really should be doing, like job searching, networking, budgeting, beefing up my skills, etc. That first year I was ALWAYS at the beach from sun up till sun down.
Do I want to calculate how much I’ve spent over four years? Hell no! It would be too depressing. Do I regret spending so much money? Yes and no. Yes because the obvious. No because I found my thing. My passion. And incredibly amazing friends.
But now I’m ten times happier regarding playing than I was the last three years. I took a year off competitive tournaments and just played two fun tournaments this year. I don’t miss it at all and found not only am I playing more relaxed, but I’m actually playing better despite not having a formal coach or training (I often train with my friend D for free who is also a part time coach). I will lose my rating at the end of this year and that is totally fine with me. I’m established now and have plenty of good players to play with for fun.
My apparel is faded and worn, but still fits.
I usually play for about 2 1/2 hours on a Sat & Sun, then go home and have lunch/dinner there. I occasionally have a bite to eat after, but it’s rare these days.
And sunscreen? Well that still costs me a fortune, but it’s worth it.
If you want to see a sort of funny and accurate depiction of what the area I live in is like, check out my friend’s film about it. I don’t live in the actual “bubble,” but I’m a couple of miles away in “bubble adjacent.” 🙂 And it’s no joke that we never want to go anywhere else in Los Angeles. I mean, why? 🙂 And yes I know about 90% of the cast in the film.
Do you have a passion that has cost you more money than you would like?