When Taylor Smith arrived in Seaside, Ore. on Aug. 8, her eyes grew wide at the wild scene. This small beach town had been overrun with thousands of volleyball players. They swarmed throughout the streets and restaurants, and of course, upon the sandy beach.
For a 14-year-old girl about to enter her freshman year at Woodinville High School, the experience was a blast. Smith was competing in the Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament with her Renton-based partner, Jenelle Wiesen. The girls were among 3,200 amateur and semi-pro athletes battling on 150 sand courts for four days with 20,000 spectators looking on.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Smith said. “I was excited for it. It is a really fun event, but at the same time I knew there would be strong competition there and I wanted to do well, so I was also a bit anxious.”
The Smith/Wiesen team needn’t worry – they acquitted themselves well. The duo placed third in the Girls 14s Doubles REC division, posting a 5-1 record while winning 11 of 15 sets.
Taylor started playing volleyball only two years ago, and took up beach volleyball last summer.
“It looked like a fun sport and a good way to get involved in school,” she said. “And my father thought it would be fun for me to try.”
Taylor met Wiesen through the Moxie Juniors Volleyball Club in Bellevue. They hit it off and became doubles partners. The two girls also teamed up with Halle Adam and Nora Myre for competing in quad events.
Suddenly, there they were playing on the Oregon coast.
“Third place in doubles was super exciting!” she said. “It felt amazing to make a crazy save from a shanked ball. Or to set my partner perfectly and watch her kill it. It was fun to make it to the gold bracket in both doubles and quads!”
Taylor's Seaside success has her feeling more joy than ever toward the sport.
“Volleyball is one of the sports I love,” she said. “I enjoy indoor, beach volleyball, and even grass volleyball. It’s a fun way to spend time with friends and family.”
And does she have any plans to play for the Woodinville Falcons and their intense coach Andrea “Hammer” Roelen?
“I hope so — tryouts are next week,” Smith said. “It would be fun to play for Coach Hammer. I attended a Woodinville volleyball camp last summer and she is great!”