While the sport’s development is often linked to California, Hawaii is believed to be the birthplace of beach volleyball, with the first game on record taking place on Waikiki Beach in 1915, 20 years after William G. Morgan invented the game
In the late1920's, southern California was the hot spot for the sport, with families playing 6 on 6 on the beaches of Santa Monica.
In the 1930's 4's and 3's were the most popular adaptations being played. The rules forbade spiking and blocking.
In 1947 the first official 2-man Beach Volleyball Tournament was played in State Beach, CA.
The sport came to Canada in the late 1950s as a leisure activity along the shores of Lake Ontario – Toronto’s Balmy Beach Club was one of the early adopters of the sport, organizing sixes, fours and triples tournaments where players competed for prizes such as lawn chairs and coolers
Canadian beach volley results by competition
At the Olympic Games
Beach volleyball has been on the Olympic programme since 1996, and Canada has sent at least one team to each Games since then, with the exception of 2008 (Beijing). A total of 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams (capped at two maximum per country) take part in the Games, in a round-robin tournament followed by single elimination matches.
- 1996: Beach Volleyball debuts as a full medal sport in Atlanta Olympic Games
- 1996: Canadians John Child and Mark Heese win bronze medal for beach volleyball at Atlanta Olympic Games, Volleyball Canada’s first ever Olympic medal
- 1996: Atlanta Games – Mark Dunn/Ed Drakich finish 17th, Margo Malowney/Barb Broen finish 17th
- 2000: Sydney Olympic Games – Canada’s two men’s teams were very competitive, with both finishing in the top 10 - John Child/Mark Heese (5th), Jody Holden/Conrad Leinemman (9th)
- 2004: Athens Olympic Games – Guylaine Dumont and Annie Martin lose to the USA gold medallists in the quarter finals, and finish in 5th place. John Child and Mark Heese repeat their strong performance of 2000, with a 5th place finish, losing to the Games’ eventual silver medallists
- 2008: No teams qualified from Canada
- 2012: London Olympic Games – Josh Binstock/Martin Reader finish 17th - Annie Martin/Marie-Andrée Lessard finish 19th,
- 2016: Canada is one of only 4 countries to qualify the full complement of two men’s and two women’s teams at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 3 teams finished in the top 10. Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley lost in the quarter finals to the Games’ gold medallists and finished 5th; Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas lose to their Canadian team mates in the round of 16 and finish 9th; Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk lose in the round of 16 to the Games’ bronze medallists and finish 9th and Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter finish in 19th place.
At the World Championships
The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships are held every two years for men and women. The first official edition of this event, was the 1997 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Los Angeles, California. . Before that, there had been ten unofficial championships (1987–1996) all held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
(results below – only listed top 16)
- 1997: (Los Angeles, USA) Canada’s top result is 9th place by 1996 Olympic bronze medallists John Child/Mark Heese.
- 1999: (Marseille, FRA) John Child/Mark Heese finish 9th
- 2001: (Klagenfurt, AUT) no Canadians in the round of 16
- 2003: (Rio de Janeiro, BRA) Guylaine Dumont/Annie Martin finish 9th - - Anouk Boileau/Julie Morin finish 17th - Jody Holden/Conrad Leinemann finish 17th
- 2005: (Berlin, GER) – Conrad Leinemann/Rich van Huizen finish 9th – Marie-Andrée Lessard/Sarah Maxwell finish 17th
- 2007: (Gstaad, SUI) no Canadians in the round of 16
- 2009: (Stavanger, NOR) – Rich van Huizen/Christian Redmann lost in the round of 16
- 2011: (Rome, ITA) no Canadians in the round of 16
- 2013: (Stare Jablonki, POL) Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk finish 5th
- 2015: (Netherlands) Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley finish 5th, Melissa Humana-Paredes/Taylor Pischke lose in the round of 16, Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter lose in the round of 16
At the Pan Am Games
Beach volleyball was introduced at the Pan Am Games in 1999 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- 1999: (Winnipeg, MB) Conrad Leinemann/Jody Holden win gold at the 1999 Pan Am Games. Brian Gatzke/Dan Lewis finish 7th. On the women’s side, Barb Broen Ouellette/Christine Pack finish 4th, Jennifer Harkness/Sue Lesage finish 10th.
- 2003: (Santo Domingo, DOM) Nancy Gougeon/Wanda Guenette finish 4th, Djordje Ljubicic/Michael Slean finish 5th
- 2007: (Rio de Janeiro, BRA) Jason Kruger/Wes Montgomery finish 4th, Marie-Andrée Lessard/Sarah Maxwell finish 4th
- 2011: (Guadalajara, MEX) Heather Bansley/Liz Maloney finished 2nd in their pool and advanced to the quarter finals, where they lost to the Games’ gold medallists from Brazil, França/Silva. Ben Saxton/Christian Redmann finished in a 3-way tie for 1st in their pool but lost the tie break and did not advance.
- 2015: (Toronto, ON) Melissa Humana Paredes/Taylor Pischke finish 4th, Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter finish 8th
Canadian beach volley through the decades
Late 1950's: the Balmy Beach Club, located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto, welcomed some of the first Canadian "beach pioneers". Unlike today's doubles format the more popular adaptation was sixes, fours and triples. Games were played to 11 without sideout scoring and the "king of the court" rule was adopted where the winner would stay on the court. The doubles games was introduced to the Balmy Beach Club by Mary Joe Peppler and Gene Selznick in the mid 1960’s.
- 1974: the first commercially sponsored tournament took place in San Diego (CA), $1500 in prize money was put forth by the title sponsor, Winston Cigarettes
- 1976: the first World Championship is held at State Beach. The event offered $5000.00 in prize money and was witnessed by some 30,000 spectators. The "event" concept is born.
- Late 70's: the game is introduced to the Canada’s West Coast. During the late 70's and early 80's the champions of the BC tournament would win trips to California to play in what was then known as the "World Invitational". The Canadians were not overly successful in these U.S. competitions, which proved to be the impetus for a new wave of intense and competitive players honing their skills on Canadian soil.
- 1980: The first sponsored tour in the USA is developed, with seven events included in the calendar. Jose Cuervo Tequila is the official sponsor.
- 1986: The International Exhibition takes place in Rio de Janeiro with 5000 spectators.
- 1986: Women's Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA) is formed.
- 1988: Canadian beach player John May spearheads the launch of Canada’s Labatt Pro Beach Tour tournament, which is recognized by the FIVB as the Beach Volleyball Men's World Championships. Based predominantly at Balmy Beach, the tour expanded to include stops in various resort locations throughout Ontario.
- 1989: Reebok sponsors the first recognized National Beach Volleyball Championships in Toronto with teams from across Canada entering directly.
- 1990: Upon VC's encouragement, the regional volleyball associations establish qualification events, with the winners going to the Nationals.
- 1989/90: The FIVB World Championship Series (Men's Beach Volleyball World Circuit) is created with tournaments in Brazil, Italy, and Japan. The events sell out and are considered a tremendous success with queues of thousands of people waiting outside the stadiums wanting to get tickets. The prize money featured was $50,000 for each event.
- 1990: The Canadian team of Jim Cooke and Andrew Cole win the NORCECA Beach Championships (Canada's World Zone Championships) in Puerto Rico.
- 1991: There is such growth in the sport in Canada that VC splits the National Championships into two tournaments - a professional and amateur competition. The Labatt Pro Beach Tour expands from one event to ten throughout Ontario and offers a total prize purse of $100,000.
- 1991: The Beach Volleyball Association (player's organization) is formed in Canada and is called the Beach Volleyball Professionals Association. This association was founded to ensure that the player's interests were represented in all matters connected with the sport of beach volleyball in Canada as well as internationally.
- 1992: Canada wins the World Beach Challenge held in Puerto Rico with the team of John Child and Ed Drakich.
- 1992: Marks the year that Beach Volleyball becomes a true professional sport and is played as a special event in Barcelona, with more than 100 players participating from 5 continents. The first Women's World Championship series is also held at this time in Almeria, Spain.
- 1993: Volleyball Canada’s Board of Directors votes to fund beach volleyball as a full program offered by the organization.
- 1993: On the Canadian home-front during the summer of 1993, A&W comes on board as title sponsor of the beach tour and helps create a truly National tour with $75,000.00 in prizing money, with travel allowances for all players competing on the 13 event amateur tour. The tournament receives a then unprecedented 6 hours of TSN coverage.
- 1993: On the 24th of September, 1993, the sport of Beach Volleyball receives Olympic recognition. The Olympic Games in Atlanta will feature 24 men's and 16 women's teams competing for the first Beach Volleyball Olympic medal.
- 1994: Jim Beam takes over title sponsorship rights for Canada’s beach tour. Over $100,000.00 is invested by sponsors of the tour and the 13 event National Tour is expanded to include a $20,000.00 pro event at the National Championships in Vancouver. The increased popularity of the sport, and the desire to improve the level of play are the impetus for the opening of two indoor facilities, the Volleydome in Calgary and North Beach Indoor Volleyball Academy in Toronto. North Beach becomes home to Canada's National Men's and Women's beach teams allowing them to train year round.
- 1994: Don Saxton, former member of the indoor men’s national team, and 1984 Olympian, opens Canada’s first indoor beach volleyball venue, the “Volleydome” in Calgary, Alberta and makes year-round sand training possible.
- 1995/96: On the Olympic front, John Child and Mark Heese win bronze at the 1995 World Championships (the event actually took place in Feb.'96) and qualify for Atlanta. The partnerships of Mark Dunn and Ed Drakich, and Margo Malowney and Barb Broen-Ouelette also qualify to represent Canada at the Olympic Games.
- 1996: Canadians John Child and Mark Heese win bronze medal for beach volleyball at Atlanta Olympic Games, Volleyball Canada’s first ever Olympic medal.
- 1996: Atlanta Games – Mark Dunn/Ed Drakich finish 17th, Margo Malowney/Barb Broen-Ouelette finish 17th. Barb Broen-Ouelette is the only Canadian to have competed in indoor and beach at the Olympic Games.
- 1996: Beach Volleyball. Child/Heese go on to finish this stellar year by winning the Microsoft National Beach Volleyball Championships in Ottawa, defeating Jody Holden and Conrad Leinemann in the final.
- 1996: Having won two Olympic gold medals in indoor volleyball (1984, 1988), USA’s Karch Kiraly wins gold in beach volleyball’s Olympic debut at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
- 1997: Labatt Blue Pro Beach Tour makes Canadian volleyball history as the most heavily endorsed and sponsored tour to date. Volleyball Canada, with the help of John May and Amotion Productions Inc., establish corporate partnerships with Labatt Blue, Ford, and the Investors Group, and develop media partnerships with CBC and TSN. The year was groundbreaking for the sport of Beach Volleyball in Canada and was one of the most exciting summers for Canada’s Beach Athletes.
- 1998: Another milestone for the sport of beach volleyball in Canada. The 1998 tour includes a total of 9 stops and $270,000 in prize money. The coast-to-coast tour includes stops in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Toronto also hosts the first FIVB World Tour event ever to be held in Canada - the Labatt Blue Toronto Open Jun 17-21 at Ashbridges Bay.
- 1998: Canada makes International history by playing a key role in the World Tour offering equal prize money in the men's and women's competitions.
- 1999: Canada hosts a FIVB World Tour Qualifying event in Toronto. The Labatt Blue Toronto Open features men’s and women’s teams from 43 countries.
- 1999: Canada makes history at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg July 30- August 4th. This is the first time Beach Volleyball has been included in the Pan Am Games and Canada had an outstanding performance with the team of Jody Holden and Conrad Leinemann winning the gold medal in the men's competition and Barb Broen and Christine Lussier finishing 4th in the women's competition.
- 1999: This is the 3rd year for the Canadian Labatt Blue Pro Beach Tour, featuring spots across the country and finishing with the National Championships in Wasaga Beach, Ontario.
- 2001: Canada hosts the Jeux de la Francophone in Ottawa/Hull. Beach volleyball is one of the seven featured sports (as a demonstration sport). Cathy Tough/Guylaine Dumont win the gold medal in the women’s competition.
- 2001: Beach volleyball is introduced at the Canada Games.
- 2005: John Fry Park in Edmonton, Alberta hosts beach volleyball action at the World Masters Games.
- 2012: To reduce seasonal training barriers for beach volleyball athletes, Volleyball Canada opens the first full-time indoor training centre at Downsview Park in Toronto.
- 2012: The FIVB relaxes its uniform rules, allowing female athletes to wear less revealing clothing for weather or religious reasons.
- 2015: Kristina Valjas and Jamie Broder become the first Canadian women to win an FIVB Tour event by defeating Americans Kerri Walsh and April Ross at the Fuzhou Open in China.