Please check out our special Q&A with Beach Volleyball Professional Allie Wheeler. Allie is an up and coming player pursuing a shot at the 2024 Olympics. She shares her life and the importance of team work.
Sam: Hi Allie, can you share with us how you started playing beach volleyball?
Allie Wheeler: I grew up in North California playing indoor volleyball, and immediately fell in love with it. Then I started playing club and high school competitively while playing beach volleyball for fun. I found a good group of people to train with on weekends, and as I was looking for colleges, I was looking mostly for indoor volleyball. However, I got invited to this USA beach volleyball camp and started talking to the USC coach. After that, one thing led to another and I ended up getting an offer.
Sam: How did you transition to becoming professional?
Allie Wheeler: I originally didn’t think much about it. My freshman year was my first year really playing beach volleyball. As I progressed, and started playing in the domestic tournaments and qualifiers, it led me to have hopes and dreams to play professionally one day. However, after college I did pursue my Master’s Degree while playing professionally.
Sam: Many may not be familiar with how the process works. Did you have to try out for AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals)?
Allie Wheeler: In other sports you try out and receive an offer. For beach volleyball, you have a little more freedom to choose your partners and sponsors. So, you sign up for particular tournaments, and then have to qualify and depending on how you finish you win prize money. And then from there, you work to have sponsors and partners who support you.
Sam: Have you had the same partner through college, and what do you look for in team chemistry?
Allie Wheeler: For collegiate, the coaches tend to choose your partner for you. My first three years I had the same partner, and a different one my last year. After graduating, I wanted one specific partner, but graduate school prevented me from having only one partner, and I kept having to flip with different partners. But, that’s kind of the nature of the sport, because of things like injuries which creates a domino effect in the league.
What I look for is someone who is a much better communicator than me, because on the court I can keep to myself a bit. I like someone who fits my personality and a person I can trust. It’s similar to dating where you may have to try and play it out for different tournaments to see if it is a good fit. During the season, you are with that person 24/7, so you have to make sure you can travel and be comfortable with the little things of that person.
Sam: I appreciate you speaking with me, so what are your long-term goals for the sport and life, being early in your career?
Allie Wheeler: I am still early on in my professional career. My long-term goal is an AVP title. I’ve been chasing that since I graduated college and really want that. And then I am pursuing to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.
I also just started my own business called AW Consulting. It is a recruiting and consulting business helping young athletes on and off the court. I mentor, coach, and guide athletes through the recruiting process.
***TRANSCRIPT EDITED FOR FLOW, LENGTH, AND FORMATTING/GRAMMATICAL***
NEXT: If you enjoyed this, please read our interview with television host, ring girl, and professional model Arianny Celeste.