LOWELL, Michigan – A big name in professional volleyball traveled to West Michigan Sunday afternoon to visit a youth clinic to promote the game.
John Hyden served on the Association of Volleyball Professional Tour for nearly 20 years and played two Summer Olympics for the United States in 1996 and 2000.
On Sunday, Hyden hosted a two-hour training session with TAG Beach Volleyball and former AVP Tour player Bill Genovich.
“Raising the level and awareness of beach volleyball is enormous,” Hyden told FOX 17.
This is a big reason Hyden felt it was important to travel to West Michigan from his Nashville home to work with the young players in our area.
“It’s big in California, Florida, and Texas, but it’s grown a bit in the Midwest,” he added. “It’s now a college sport, there are scholarships for girls, and it’s also the fastest growing sport in the NCAA right now.”
Genovich started TAG beach volleyball in 2019 and the popularity of the sport in the Lowell area grew rapidly as a result.
Only the big-name Sunday clinic can help.
“It’s just great to have someone like him out here,” smiled Bill. “He’s such a great guy and athlete, we love having him out here and we’re lucky to have him here in West Michigan.”
Hyden says he kept his message simple during Sunday’s session with the kids.
“I just told them to enjoy it out here and hopefully get some of the skills,” added Hyden. “Simply getting better at the passing game, in the attitude, in the small steps that make the game of volleyball a lot easier, that’s what I’m here to help you with.”
The children may not have been born when Hyden played in the Summer Olympics 25 and 21 years ago, respectively, but they respect his experience and were delighted when he arrived.
“It’s pretty amazing, it feels great, it was like, ‘Oh my god, woah, he played in the Olympics,'” said 12-year-old Taryn Genoivch. “He knows what he’s doing and knows what he’s teaching us.”
Genovich’s partner Annalize Clark, 13, was one of the many players who snapped a photo with Hyden before the event.
“I just think it’s super cool that he came here and wanted to teach us something,” said Clark. “He’s always given us tips on what really means a lot and he pays attention to the little things to make us better.”