Dane Selznick has seen it all.
Seen every last one of beach volleyball’s many evolutions. He was there when players competed for little more than pride and maybe – maybe – a free dinner. He was there when two men named David Wilk and Craig Masuoka formed a promotional company named Event Concepts and began hauling in the Millers and Cuervos of the world and throwing legitimate prize money into tournaments. He was there when the AVP Tour was founded, in 1984, and when it collapsed, and when it formed again, and when it collapsed once more, to be revived in its current iteration under Donald Sun.
He’s seen both the golden era, financially, when 10 players once banked more than $100,000 in prize money alone, and he’s seen the most dominant era, when Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor once rattled off 112 straight wins and three consecutive gold medals from 2004-2012.
And now he is witness once more to the latest permutation in professional beach volleyball, the upstart event series, p1440, founded by Walsh-Jennings and her husband, Casey, and former college teammate Dave Mays.
In March, Selznick, who had been a tournament director for the California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA), founding the Gene Selznick Invitational, an eponymous nod to his father, was hired as p1440’s Director of Competition and Sport.
“About a year ago, Kerri approached me and said ‘Dane I have a project I’d love for you to be a part of,’” Selznick said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “She gave me a little bit of background, I brought it to the head staff at CBVA, got their opinion to see if it would be a good fit, and here we are. Everything’s moved along pretty quickly.”
Blindingly fast may be a more apt description. P1440 has announced dates for four events in its inaugural season, one of which will be an Olympic qualifier in Las Vegas, while the other three are partnered with the FIVB as international exhibitions. They’ve announced a lengthy list of sponsors that includes ROKA (eyewear), Alsa Energy (water), RX (protein bars), Brand X (strength and conditioning programs), AcuSpike (volleyball training), NormaTec (recovery), among a host of others. They’ve formed a developmental training program, replete with an armada of the finest coaches in the world, and a partnership with the CBVA, the pipeline from which many of the top players in the country cut their teeth, and where p1440 is now hosting what’s known as “satellite qualifiers,” allowing players to compete locally, weeks prior to the event itself, for a spot in the main draw.
“They looked at our [CBVA] schedule extensively, and they were trying to select those certain events that they felt fit the mold to be a qualifying point-getter for the players,” Selznick said. “There are specific tournaments that we have that award you p1440 points. The qualifying satellites are enticing for the players because it gives them something more than playing in a tournament. Now they’re playing for a main draw spot in tournaments that offer high level competition, a lot more prize money – you’re guaranteed more money just getting into the tournament. I think being an alternative tour to what we’ve got going on, as long as it’s not conflicting, I see no problem with it, because it really gives players a lot more opportunities to make money.”
More opportunities has been the theme of the past few months. In 2018, the AVP put on eight open events, one of which was partnered with the FIVB in Huntington Beach, before adding invitationals in Hawai’i and Huntington Beach. The upstart King of the Court series hosted another handful, to go along with upwards of 40 FIVBs of varying levels.
And now there’s p1440, adding events at the end of September (San Jose), mid-October (Las Vegas), end of November and early December (San Diego) and mid-December (Huntington Beach), with events on the horizon in Texas, Florida and Los Angeles.
“It seems like a pretty exciting time right now for the sport in general,” Tri Bourne said. “It’s cool, I think the sport is gaining a lot of momentum right now. There’s a lot of people like yourself and p1440 and AVP and King of the Court and FIVB and CBVA that are all kind of creating opportunities in their own way. I think it’s great. It seems like the sport is gaining some momentum.”
That next opportunity begins Thursday, with the San Jose on-site qualifier, and extends through the weekend, in a domestic event that features the top two teams in the world of each gender – Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum and Brazilians Carolina Salgado and Maria Antonelli – as well as a host of the best talent in the United States – Sean Rosenthal and Chase Budinger, Jeremy Casebeer and Reid Priddy, Billy Allen and Theo Brunner, Chaim Schalk and Piotr Marciniak, Walsh-Jennings, Nicole Branagh and Lauren Fendrick, Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman, Caitlin Ledoux and Geena Urango.
“It’s just great to have more opportunity,” Selznick said. “Bottom line. Every entity should take care of its athletes. It’s like the Olympic Games, the athletes are No. 1.”