Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings brings 25 new beach volleyball nets to Huntington Beach
It all started on the sand in Huntington Beach.
Casey Jennings pointed to the volleyball court where, in 2001, he first met and scrimmaged against his now-wife Kerri Walsh Jennings, who at the time was nervously trying out to see if she was a fit alongside Misty May-Treanor.
Of course, three Olympic gold medals later, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor were undoubtedly a match. As were Jennings and Walsh Jennings — three kids later — both of whom have built stellar careers advancing the sport.
The volleyball power couple, who live in Manhattan Beach, were in Huntington Beach on Tuesday, March 26, giving back to the sport they’ve built their lives around. They were hosting a ribbon-cutting for 25 new nets on courts surrounding the pier through their lifestyle brand p1440, with hopes of inspiring the next generation of volleyball players to live their dreams.
The p1440 brand is many things, but its primary purpose is to remind people to live every 1,440 minutes — a complete day — to the fullest.
P1440 launched in 2018 with three fitness and lifestyle festivals — in San Jose, Las Vegas and Huntington Beach — bringing with it volleyball entertainment and tournaments, clinics and fitness challenges and workshops.
Part of the intent of the brand is to make beach volleyball a more livable career choice. When the Olympics aren’t happening, it’s hard to make a living as a pro, Walsh Jennings said in a past interview.
Top-level volleyball players take home an estimated $36,000 a year – pennies compared to other competitive sports such as basketball, baseball and football. So Walsh Jennings and her husband wanted to create a platform to help the top athletes be seen throughout the year, as well as a way for up-and-coming volleyball players to showcase their skills.
They both still compete regularly, Jennings domestically and Walsh Jennings on the international circuit.
“It feels really good to be still playing and getting involved in the youth,” Jennings said.
Jennings said Huntington Beach is the place that holds the most sentiment for him, not just because it’s where he met his future wife, but also because it’s the “last frontier” for beach volleyball, one of the few places where someone can come down and join an impromptu pick-up game.
“That doesn’t happen anymore,” he said. “But you can come to Huntington Beach, you can still show up, like I did in 1993, and not know one person and walk up to a court. That’s how I started.”
P1440 is also sponsoring a developmental team that will practice on the courts, a chance for athletes between college and their professional careers to get coaching for free. Through the p1440 app, there also are free workshops and coaching available to anyone interested in advancing in the sport.
On Tuesday, Walsh Jennings was busy signing autographs through the morning for fans excited to get a glimpse of the gold medalist.
“It warms my heart, it’s so special,” she said of all the people who stood in line to meet her.
Linda Cirillo, in town from Indiana for her 70th birthday, lined up to get an autograph for her college volleyball-playing niece, Maria Rasch.
“She won’t even know what to say, she will probably just go crazy,” Cirillo said. “And maybe it will encourage her to continue with her volleyball.”
Walsh Jennings said she hopes the new black p1440 nets will inspire anyone to come down and play.
“This is just a simple, but really powerful, gesture,” she said of the nets. “We want to honor this (city) first, because this is where it all started.”