In the News

Posting a presence on the beach

London Community News - September 10, 2013

By Jonathon Brodie

The lumber posts on the sand volleyball courts in Port Stanley are just waiting to be filled up.

The Beach Volleyball Academy (BVA) has made it a tradition to add plaques of the names of the academy´s provincial title-holders to a championship post holding a net in Port Stanley, where the program holds some of its clinics.

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The ritual comes from the Manhattan Beach Open held in Southern California, considered the birthplace of beach volleyball, where tournament winners are memorialized with a bronze plaque on the “Volleyball Walk of Fame” spanning the length of the Manhattan Beach Pier.

BVA co-owner Shaun Furneaux guesses about a dozen plaques have been on the post of the Lake Erie beach town with one more soon to be added with members Iris Fletcher and Ally Tarr taking home the Ontario Under-14 crown this year.

“It´s kind of like going to Yankees Stadium. When you walk out onto the (Manhattan Beach) Pier there´s all these legends immortalized,” Furneaux said. “Thats kind of what we wanted to bring in our own way to Port Stanley.”

Even though BVA is only eternalizing one team this time around – six squads were added from 2012 – the academy had a strong presence on the provincial stage by sending 26 teams to the Ontario championships with six medaling.

But, the goal of the club has never been about collecting hardware

“Since day one the reason Dave (Cousins, other co-owner) and I started this club was because the exposure just wasn´t there. Dave and I played for years and had good playing careers, but we didn´t see a lot of people following in our shoes for whatever reason,” Furneaux said. “London and area is a strong volleyball area, so we figured, kind of like us, they just needed someone to tell them about it, get them introduced and give them some proper coaching.”

BVA seems to be succeeding at their mission. This past summer season the academy sent a club-high 56 teams to play in at least one tournament.

“In terms of overall participation I would say it was (our best year),” Furneaux said. “For beach volleyball nine times out of 10 you come out on the beach and play and you´re hooked. It probably increases a little more when you play your first tournament.”

Port Stanley has 12 beach volleyball courts and the Forest City recently unveiled four courts at the North Athletic London Fields.

No local area beach net post is safe with BVA around. If the academy´s players continue to increase their tournament experience more wooden poles will be sought after.

“We have no shortage of poles,” Furneaux said. “We hope we fill them all up.”


London hits the beaches for volleyball

London Community News - May 9, 2013

By Jonathon Brodie

If Shaun Furneaux were never told about beach volleyball from David Cousins he probably would never have been able to get the full experience of it.

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Now the pair is trying to let everyone know about the sand sport with their Beach Volleyball Academy (BVA) and their job has became a little bit easier with the help of courts being built at the North London Athletic Fields.

“(Cousins) introduced me to the beach game, which has been a huge part of my life and I had an awesome playing career getting to travel across the world,” said Furneaux, a former professional beach volleyball player after playing the sport indoor for Western University. “Even though volleyball is heavily participated in London and all the clubs do really well year-in and year-out, no other kids were playing beach so when we were winding down our playing career we wanted to really get the word out and give the kids an opportunity.”

With BVA headed into its seventh summer of existence, this will be the club´s first full season operating programs out of London with the new beach volleyball courts opened in August 2012.

According to Farneaux, the new opportunity of sand for sport is a big one since outdoor beach volleyball courts are lacking in the Forest City as they´re either privately owned, like with the Nancy Campbell Institute on Ridout Street, or defunct, as is the case with the playing fields at Barneys Lounge´s patio and the now shutdown Knack, on Wharncliffe Road.

“This is the first time we´ve really had anything that´s good,” Farneaux said. “There´s a couple courts up at the campus at Western, but they´re not really playable for anything more than recreational. The entire sand area is the size of a court, so you can´t really run for ball or anything.”

Currently, BVA runs its main summer programs out of Port Stanley, but with London adding courts it´s expected to save a lot of people some time.

Furneaux estimated about 350 to 400 kids registered to BVA last year with about 75 athletes making the trip to Port Stanley from the Forest City.

The group also hosts two winter programs running six weeks apiece at the local Spikes indoor beach volleyball facility, on Weston Road, which draws about 100 people.

BVA hosts clinics for children nine years old all the way up to 18, but it will be the younger players getting a chance to muck up the sand at the North London courts.

The older athletes will continue their training in front of Port Stanley beach-goers and get to cool off in Lake Erie.

“The London courts are a great starting point because it´s less of commitment. You don´t have to drive out to Port Stanley one or two times a week and it gives them some time to see if they really like the game,” Farneaux said. “If the kids really want to take it serious and get competitive and play tournaments, ultimately they´ll maybe graduate to the Port Stanley program.”

BVA also hosts smaller programs in Kitchener and Windsor, but the group wants to tell everyone in London about beach volleyball before anymore expanding.

“We´d like to grow it more,” Farneaux said. “But, first we don´t feel like we´re done and we feel like there´s more to be done in London.”


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PROfiles David Cousins

OVA News: Ontario Volleyball website - www.ontariovolleyball.org - March 19, 2010

The best thing about PROfiles is hearing about all of the different people that help make this sport and community so special. It is always interesting to hear how people started playing, how they reached their accomplishments, and the passion they have for the sport.

Featuring David Cousins was an obvious choice. He has been playing for 19 years, is a Provincial Champion, owner of one of the best beach clubs in Ontario, Beach Volleyball Academy (BVA), and one of the nicest people you will ever meet on the beach.

What made us rush to get a PROfile on him was the rumour of him beating Olympic Gold Medalist Phil Dalhousier.

OVA: Is it true you beat Phil Dalhousier?
David: Yes that is true. Phil Dalhousier was not the player that he is today. He was younger and just about to get great at beach volleyball. I traveled with Anton Hauser down to Miami for a March break. We played all week and as a bonus we played in a tourney right on South Beach. I didn´t even know that we had beaten him in the tourney until a few years later when Anton Hauser said remember that tall skinny guy we beat in the quarter finals? That guy turned out to be Phil Dalhousier. It is just a fun little fact ... 5´11” vballer from London, Ontario, has beaten a Olympic Gold Medalist.

OVA: Why did you start playing Beach?
David: There was a beach court in the middle of downtown London (The Ceeps). My friends and I, as soon as school or our summer jobs were over, we would race down there to play till the sun went down. It was a great environment!

OVA: What do you like most about Beach Volleyball?
David: Hitting that one ball that pops off the sand just right. Meeting my best friends.

OVA: What was it like playing on the World Tour?
David: I never played on the world tour. I played on the east coast of the U.S. (Toyota tour), Chicago (EVP), Labatt Tour throughout Canada.

OVA: What message would you give to any young beach athlete wanting to play for the National Team?
David: Play in as many tournaments as possible. It is a great measuring stick. Travel with your partner, it will be the best times of your life!

OVA: Where do you see Beach in Canada going in the next 5 years?
David: I see Canadian Beach Volleyball moving on to its brightest future. We have one of the best youth tours and nothing but GOOD can from this. The sport will continue to grow.

OVA: If you could change one thing about our sport what would it be?
David: Nothing

David teamed up with Shaun Furneaux to start the Beach Volleyball Academy (BVA) in London and Port Stanley. Since the start of the club they have expanded to new areas including Kitchener and Windsor. One of the great features about the club was inspired by the Manhattan Beach pier, where every winning team of the AVP Manhattan Open gets their name permanently placed on the pier. Every time a BVA team wins a Provincial Championship their names go on the plaque on centre court in Port Stanley.

OVA: Why did you and Shaun start BVA?
David: There were no kids in London and area starting to play beach. We have had so many great memories from playing over the years. We wanted to share that with the next generation. There are now after starting in 2007, hundreds of kids that love the sport and hopefully play for the rest of their lives.

OVA: What are the advantages to indoor athletes who play beach volleyball?
David: Advantages ... Control. When you play indoor there are six people who can contact the ball. You may be a good hitter, or setter, or passer. Usually you only get one contact. On the beach you have to be good at everything because there are only two people on the court. More contacts. If you aren´t good at one skill the opposition will pick on you till you get that skill correct. You get to overcome these challenges and become a winner.

OVA: What was the hardest part transitioning from a player to a coach?
David: Nothing. They are both great challenges and offer great rewards.

OVA: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own beach club?
David: Share your passion for the game. Just get kids playing the sport.

OVA: Best memory from playing Beach Volleyball?
David: Getting to play with Christian Redman and Matty Z in their first pro event, winning provincials 10 years apart, starting the BVA. But still waiting for the best moment to happen ...

We would like to thank David for his help with this article. Best of luck this year with all the teams at BVA.

Beach Volleyball Academy

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