Despite similarities in rules, strategy and execution, it’s easy to see why sophomore Sam Holdredge prefers beach volleyball to its indoor counterpart: bare feet, warm sand and a bright sun above. Yet the defensive specialist turned down scholarships at Division I beach volleyball programs in Florida at Stetson University, Florida Gulf Coast University and Webber International University. She also declined a scholarship to Irvine Valley College (Calif.) that participates in the independent Intercollegiate Sand Volleyball Conference.
She ultimately decided to attend Geneseo to stay nearby her Brighton, N.Y. hometown – one of the toughest decisions Holdredge ever made.
“It is very, very fun for me, but at the same time, I take it pretty seriously,” she said. Holdredge plays nearly every day from late May to mid-August while also competing in tournaments each weekend with her partner Amanda Sedore, a junior at Niagara University.
With Geneseo’s spring season and fall preseason surrounding the outdoor season, Holdredge faces a “pretty difficult” transition, she said.
“I guess the indoor game is a lot faster than the beach game that you wouldn’t really think,” she said.
Holdredge and Sedore compete through Hotshots Indoor Beach Volleyball Club in Rochester and New York Outdoor Volleyball Association, which sets up tournaments and provides advanced-level winners with cash prices.
Over last summer alone, Holdredge won seven tournaments, but she couldn’t pocket the $1,000 or so because of NCAA regulations on participating in intercollegiate athletes.
Still, Holdredge’s success has provided her with opportunities across the country. In 2009, she competed in the USA Volleyball Junior Beach Tour in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the farthest she’s traveled for the sport. She earned a spot on the High Performance (A2) team in 2012 through the USA Volleyball Beach Junior National Team Program that brings together 30 of the world’s best beach volleyball players to train with professionals in California. But Holdredge never made it to the West Coast, as the program conflicted with Geneseo preseason.
Unlike her time on the Geneseo team, Holdredge is on her own without a coach – a trend that’s pretty common among beach volleyball players. But within the beach volleyball community, she isn’t alone. The tight-knit community is one reason why Holdredge took on a referee job at Hotshots a couple years ago. And it’s why, six years later, she has stuck with the sport.
The Knights resume to SUNYAC action on Friday Oct. 11 against host SUNY Potsdam, followed by a doubleheader on Saturday Oct. 12 against SUNY Cortland and SUNY Oswego.