ST. GEORGE — Rick Reeve is a beach guy. His email address starts with the word “aloha.” He founded a volleyball club based on the beach version of the game on the beaches of California. Now, Reeve has brought that West Coast-style and game inland to St. George.
Reeve launched Beach Elite Southern Utah in the summer of 2020 with the intention of elevating the area’s club volleyball scene and providing another educational avenue for youth who want to learn the sport.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit had already expanded from Southern California to Northern Utah and has produced more than 50 college scholarship winners since its founding. Reeve made it clear that the club teams will be for the cream of the crop including tryouts with cuts, but all skill levels will have some form of access to Beach Elite.
Reeve established Beach Elite in California nearly seven years ago. But with COVID-19 putting an extended pause on operations there, he looked to branch off somewhere restrictions were more amicable. St. George, though already having a fairly established club and school-sponsored volleyball scene, gave him an avenue to not only do that but elevate the level of play locally. It also presented him with an informal invitation.
“I have a friend here that’s in the volleyball world, and I just said, ‘Hey, do you guys need help? What do you need in St. George for volleyball?'” Reeve told St. George News. “And she’s like, ‘Yes, please. We need you, Southern California, we need that mentality of just higher-level, competitive volleyball.’ … We were just kind of directed that we could offer more for St. George.”
So in the midst of a pandemic, Reeve launched a “litmus test,” as he called it. Beach Elite hosted summer clinics to gauge interest and level the viability of expanding his club to Southern Utah. He said surveys from those clinics showed a resounding interest in his services. Combined with the family-first attitude he saw in the city, the success of his Northern Utah club and Dixie State’s move to Division I, he was convinced.
He believes his Southern California expertise makes him the right choice to step-up local competition. Robin Felder, Dixie State’s head women’s volleyball coach agreed, to the point she brought Reeve onto her staff for the transition to the Western Athletic Conference.
“I had my daughter go to one of his camps,” Felder said. “When she went to his camp I just loved the way it was run. I loved the energy in the gym. They were saying the right stuff. They were teaching my kid the right things. So, overall I just thought this was going to be such a huge asset for Southern Utah to just have another good coach, another good club that can just make the volleyball even better here.”
Beach Elite launched in 2015 after Reeve fielded calls for private lessons in Newport Beach. Once demand reached a high enough level, he formed the club. Even though his background was in indoor volleyball, he made the transition to the beach game.
Reeve played indoor volleyball for BYU, graduating in 2002. He then moved to Southern California, what he calls “the Mecca of volleyball” in America, and began his coaching career. He wants to bring what he learned there to Southern Utah.
“That’s where we have that drive and that passion,” Reeve said. “You’ve got to be really good at what you do to survive down there.”
Beach Elite club teams started competing this month. Its 18s team went undefeated in a tournament in Salt Lake City on Jan. 16.
The club teams are more exclusive and come with four-figure roster fees. There are more accessible options within Beach Elite for less experienced, more entry-level players including skills clinics. Since the nonprofit’s founding, it has also established a scholarship fund that Reeves estimates helped pay for 20% of the club’s California players in 2019.
For Reeves, the goal is two-fold: first, to produce high-level volleyball players in the St. George area and second, to improve the community. The club does service projects to involve the community. In the pre-COVID world, the players would go to homeless shelters and halfway houses to assist with meals and do other community service work.
“One of our goals coming here is to make volleyball better for everybody,” Reeves said. “So what that means is, I want other clubs to up their game because we’re here. I look at them as partners because we’re all just trying to do the same thing and that’s kids’ volleyball. … I want to see our competing clubs doing service projects too, because it’s great. Everyone wins.”
Beach Elite currently has a home at Washington Fields Intermediate School. More information, including registering, is available on its website.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.