By Darius Kwak and Jill Ryan
Endless Summer Volleyball, the first and only indoor beach volleyball facility on Long Island, will start its annual Winter Leagues on November 27. Twenty teams will go head to head each night, Monday through Thursday.
“Our fall leagues were completely full this year and our winter leagues will be full, they don’t start until the end of November but we’re almost full already,” Robert Phillips, the owner of Endless Summer, said.
Players have come from New Jersey, Connecticut, and upstate New York. However, the biggest crowd comes from the Long Beach volleyball community, Phillips said.
Approximately 2000 people play beach volleyball in the city of Long Beach, Rich Heiles, the Director of East End Volleyball that host summer leagues and tournaments in Long Beach, said. Upwards of 1200 players participate each night.
“East End Volleyball is the main league that runs volleyball in Long Beach,” Scott Brady, a trainer at Endless Summer, said.
East End is present all over Long Island, running tournaments not only in Long Beach but also Cedar Beach and East Quogue.
“[Endless Summer] opened in September of 2015,” Phillips said. “The volleyball community around here [in Long Beach] is incredible so it’s been great since day one.”
The facility is open in the off season of beach volleyball, Labor Day to Memorial Day. It has two indoor courts filled with sand and a bar, open to adults, on the sidelines, Phillips, said.
People as young as 11 and as old as 65 have taken classes at the facility, Brady said. He has worked for Endless Summer since last October, he also uses the facility to train himself, along with his friends, for summer tournaments.
“We come here and train as often as possible just in the off season because it’s a place we can keep our sand legs,” Brady said. “That’s the one thing you lose is when you’re not on the beach, the feel of jumping in the sand. After a full winter of not doing it, you come out and you feel sluggish.”
At the bar, players hang out and have a beer or two before and after their time slot, which for open play can cost up to $60 an hour, Jeremy Rosen, the bartender, said. For leagues, free agents can be spending upwards of $150 to register, while teams, depending on the size, will pay from $525 to $725 collectively, according to the Endless Summer website.
Once winter leagues start, Mondays and Tuesdays, players compete either two on two, or four on four. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, it’s six on six, using recreational rules, Phillips said.
The weekends are mostly booked through April with parties and rentals, leaving Fridays for open play.
“On a Friday night we’ve had as many as 80 to 90 people in here,” Phillips said. “It’s just a time for everyone to come down, come alone, come as a team, and they mix up teams all night.”
During open play, on November 3, George Cassius came with his wife, Rose. Even though both are volleyball players with decades of practice, only he was playing that night.
“I’ve been playing about 40 years, I’m just going to join a team,” Cassius said. “I don’t know anyone here other than my wife, who I’ve known for 30 years.”
Endless Summer plans to open a second location in Suffolk County, Phillips said, however a date has yet to be determined.
“You can’t just move into a place,” Phillips said. “It has to fit the requirements: you need at least a 22 foot ceiling in order to play indoor, which is a hard thing to begin with, and then you also need to be wide enough to fit a 30-foot by 70-foot court.”
Expansion plans would be beneficial to other teams outside the Oceanside area.
“An indoor sand court isn’t as necessary for myself and my team since we competed on a hardwood, but if we had access to one on campus, we would use it given its different surface and the limited court space,” Jorge Jazmines, a Stony Brook University junior who led a tournament team last semester, said.
Phillips hopes that a location in Suffolk will attract the Cedar Beach volleyball community just as the current location has attracted Long Beach.
“We bring the summer fun from what everyone’s playing on the beaches indoors,” Phillips said, “so that they can do it all year round.”