Sand, sun and bikini-clad babes are all involved, but life isn't just a beach for the pros in the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series. The stakes are high among the players coming to Oak Street Beach Friday through Sunday for the Chicago Open, as contenders vie for a piece of the $100,000 purse. Before they hit the beach, RedEye caught up with two stars of the tour.
A former Olympian who competed on indoor U.S. national teams in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000, John Hyden at 39 years old remains one of the top players on the beach. During last year's series, the Florida native won two of the three events.
The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor volleyball is … sand? It's a completely different sport. It's less people playing, it's indoor, and there's a lot more court to cover.
The best way to describe my game is … efficient, always having a game plan and weathering the storm of the other team. Can't make errors.
The biggest misconception about beach volleyball is … that it's a girls sport. When you get out there and watch the players on the men's side, there are so many incredibly athletic players.
The best part about a beach volleyball tournament is … the atmosphere. It's one big party out there. Surf, sun, girls in bikinis—it's a lifestyle environment.
The first thing I do after a long day in the sun is … take a nap. My wife will tell you, I clean off and take a nap for about a half-hour.
The worst place for sand to get caught is … I imagine the women are a little different. But for me, it's my eyes. That's the worst.
The best way to describe Chicago beaches is … humid. I've been checking the weather every day thinking, "what are we in for out there?"
A celebrity I'd love to play beach volleyball with is … Hmm, who do I want to see in a bathing suit? How about Marisa Miller.
My perfect beach volleyball soundtrack is … maybe the soundtrack from "Project X." It's got a lot of party songs so that gets the beach going.
Finish the phrase: Life is a beach … and it's my job.
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.