If you thought beach volleyball sounds like an exciting sport to be good at, you’d be right.
Sunshine, opportunities for travel, and a busy schedule of tournaments.
But like any sport it also involves a lot of hard work and dedication, and many hours of training and practice in all conditions.
“We normally tough it out and train outside, even in cold, miserable weather. We have an outdoor beach court area at our school so we head out and train there in all conditions,” says beach volleyballer Keegan Joe who is preparing to represent New Zealand at the Youth Olympics in October.
“I’m also busy at the moment juggling all my schoolwork around volleyball training and I’m doing a mix of NCEA Level 2 and Level 3 subjects,” adds Keegan who is year 12 at Spotswood College.
Over the past year, Keegan has competed at three major junior beach volleyball tournaments, ahead of the Youth Olympics in Argentina.
Keegan will be teaming up with a familiar player. “My partner at the Youth Olympics is David Jeffrey, who is an ex-Spotswood College student.”
A third Taranaki player will also be going to the Youth Olympics, with Maya Dickson who is currently at New Plymouth Girls’ High School teaming up with Westlake Girls High School’s Tamara Otene in the women’s competition.
Keegan finished fifth at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas last July with Tyan Gillespie from Rotorua - which is a highlight so far.
“Not only our result at the Youth Commonwealth Games, but also being part of a multisport event. I see that as kind of reflecting what the Youth Olympics will be like, only way bigger and lots of opportunity to do well.
“The Youth Commonwealth Games had about 1000 athletes, the Youth Olympics is meant to have about 4,000 and more sports, so being part of such a big youth sporting event and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is going to be great, and wearing the New Zealand fern is a big thing for me.”
This year he has had two trips overseas, earning qualification for the Youth Olympics in the process.
The first was to Australia to the Oceania U19 Beach Championships. Keegan and Olympic partner David finished second at that tournament in Canberra.
The second was to Nanjing, China in the middle of July for the World Youth Beach Volleyball Championships. Keegan teamed up with Ryan Gunn from Rangitoto College to finish 17th equal.
“The recent trip to China was a great experience. The competition was tough because there are so many great beach volleyball countries around the world, but competing at the highest youth level was pretty cool.”
Back home last summer, Keegan and David won gold at the New Zealand U19 Beach Volleyball Championships in Mt Maunganui. Keegan and David followed that up by winning the qualifiers for the New Zealand team for the Oceania Champs.
Keegan also teamed up with year 12 schoolmate Meli Naborisi to finish second to Rangitoto’s Ryan Gunn and Sam Andersen at the NZSS Beach Volleyball Championships at Mt Maunganui.
Of note, Spotswood College pair Libby Houghton and Hikaru Han successfully defended their NZSS Girls title in the same tournament.
As well as on the sand, Keegan plays indoor volleyball for the Spotswood College team that won the Division 2 title for the second consecutive year at the NZSS Indoor Senior Boys tournament in April.
In winning Division 2, Spotswood beat Otago Boys’ High School 3-0 in their quarterfinal, Rongotai College 3-0 in their semi-final and then One Tree Hill College 3-0 in their final.
Prior to the tournament splitting up into the two divisions, Spotswood was drawn in a tough pool which also included Western Heights High School, Nayland College and One Tree Hill College. Western Heights went on and won Division 1, Nayland College finished fifth in Division 1 and One Tree Hill College were the team they met again in the Division 2 final.
Keegan says most of the team will be back next year so they will be hoping to make Division 1. The nucleus of this Spotswood team finished third at the North Island Junior Championships in 2016.
The Spotswood College team is coached by Keegan’s father, Anthony Joe. He is also Keegan and David’s coach at the Youth Olympics.
The Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games will be held from October 6-18, involving over 200 countries.