As a 2-year-old, Shell Beach Elementary student Cole Nieman watched pro beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor team with Kerri Walsh Jennings on TV to win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Back then, Nieman would run through the house saying, “My Misty May!”
He’d even met her at an AVP Tour event in Santa Barbara.
Now that he’s about to enter second grade, Nieman thought it was about time to meet up again and enrolled in one of May-Treanor’s two Pismo Beach clinics this weekend.
“She was teaching us how to learn some stuff I haven’t done before,” Nieman said. “Doing that thing where you had to spike it and go that way and that way and always move.”
Nieman was one of 74 youths between 8 and 18 years old to participate in May-Treanor’s all-day volleyball clinic hosted by the City of Pismo Beach at the sand courts at the end of Wadsworth Avenue on Saturday.
A second clinic will be held today, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending with an autograph and picture session at 3 p.m.
Organizers said walk-up registration is available and suggested arriving at 9 a.m. to sign up for the clinic, which costs $125 per child.
May-Treanor and Jennings won women’s beach gold at three straight Olympic Games, leading up to May-Treanor’s retirement after the London Games last summer.
During their dominant partnership, the duo also won 101 straight matches and 18 consecutive tournaments titles on the pro circuit.
In college, May-Treanor captained the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team to an undefeated 36-0 season in 1998.
In retirement, May-Treanor was a volunteer assistant coach with the 49ers’ varsity-level beach volleyball team this past spring and has turned her attention away from competing.
“The only way to make our sport grow is by sharing our information,” May-Treanor said. “Do I have a few more years in me? Probably, but it’s harder for me to get moving now, and I really enjoy working with the kids. That’s the future of our sport.”
The clinic was filled primarily with girls, though a small percentage of boys also received personal instruction from May-Treanor and a group of coaches comprised of May-Treanor’s father Butch May, a former Olympic volleyball player in his own right, and a group of coaches from local beach volleyball organizations.
May-Treanor’s husband and former Major League catcher Matt Treanor was on hand as were the couple’s two Boston terriers. They spent Easter weekend at Lopez Lake, so a return to the area felt natural.
“We have family friends here,” May-Treanor said, “and my dad played when tournaments were all along the coast. I’m sure he played in Pismo, but I was very young.”
While Nieman was one of the youngest participants, Nipomo High girls volleyball player Sam Baker was one of the more experienced.
Having played volleyball for six years and having also followed May-Treanor’s Olympic career, the 17-year-old senior signed up after learning about the clinic from her coach.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet Misty and to have her help me out,” Baker said. “I improved a lot and got a lot of instruction by all these coaches. It was really nice.”
Having already held events in Denver, Snowmass, Colo.; and Long Beach, N.Y., May-Treanor will also visit Portland, Ore., and Virginia Beach, Va., by the end of the month.
By Saturday afternoon, there was already talk of a return to Pismo Beach next summer.
Though May-Treanor signed the most memorabilia, Matt Treanor also fielded photo requests, and the affable Butch May was a favorite among the youngsters he coached.
“As you see, I give my dad the youngest kids because he’s a very good fundamentalist, and he gets them going,” May-Treanor said. “They have a great time and that’s where I got my start. Everybody wants to go to step Z before even going through A-B-C nowadays.
“The kids have to learn it’s all about fundamentals, and it’s all about the basics. You just develop that and then you can increase your game. You become more advanced, but even at the professional level, it’s all about the basics.”