05/01/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/01/2019 09:18
By Bill Kauffman ([email protected]) | May 01, 2019, 10:10 a.m. (ET)
(L-R) Meredith Gross, Skye McDermott and Autum Reagan have been selected to represent the USA at the World ParaVolley Beach World Series Tour event taking place May 9-12 in Pingtan, China.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 30, 2019) - USA Volleyball has named its three-player men's and women's teams which will compete in the World ParaVolley Beach World Series event taking place May 9-12 in Pingtan, China.
On the men's side, Eric Duda (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), Dave Newkirk (Olathe, Kansas) and Chris Seilkop (DeLand, Florida) have been selected to represent the United States. The men's trio has played one Beach ParaVolley tournament, earning silver in an event staged in Thailand in 2015. Meredith Gross (Salt Lake City, Utah), Skye McDermott (Albany, Wisconsin) and Autum Reagan (Wellington, Kansas), who are all new to the sport, will represent the U.S. in Pingtan.
Beach ParaVolley, or standing beach volleyball played with three-member teams, works within the Paralympic classification system which promotes the inclusivity of the sport.
The six players were chosen through a selection camp in early April at the University of Central Oklahoma.
The men's team is loaded with Paralympic experience in either sitting or standing volleyball. The trio averages 44 years of age with Duda being the youngest at 38. Newkirk and Seilkop are 45 and 49 years-old, respectively. They have played in a combined 11 Paralympic Games between sitting and standing volleyball.
In contrast, the three women's players selected for Pingtan are young in age and overall international experience. Gross and McDermott are 14-years-old and Reagan is the oldest at 17. Reagan is the only player with international experience, having won silver at the 2017 Youth Parapan American Games for sitting volleyball.
Yet, the three teenagers see this as an opportunity to steer the course for Beach ParaVolley in the United States.
'Being a part of this, in the beginning, is a really big role for me because I'm setting USA Beach ParaVolley to what it will be in the future,' Reagan said. 'ParaBeach is the dream right now as going from sitting back to standing volleyball is so different. For me, there is a completely different feeling. I forgot how amazing it feels to be standing and not thinking about anything in the world besides if I need to dive for the ball or not.'
McDermott feels her role on the team is to not only work toward her own dreams of going to the Paralympics, but to be a role model for other athletes.
'I am a pioneer in this sport to inspire young athletes to have courage, confidence and character in whatever they want to do,' McDermott said. 'My dream is to play beach volleyball in the Paralympics. I know with my hard work and dedication to this sport and team that I will get there someday because I can do anything that I put my mind to. This sport represents 'team' in every sense of the word. I have so much fun playing and growing in this sport every day, that I always want to come back for more.'
World ParaVolley (WPV), the international federation for Paralympic volleyball, is working with the International Paralympic Committee to add Beach ParaVolley to the Paralympic Games by the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympics. The sport has been gaining popularity where teams have been competing regularly in Asia/Oceania since 2007.