Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings launches tour at Avaya Stadium

Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings launches tour at Avaya Stadium

SAN JOSE — The Earthquakes’ home field will turn into a beach scene Sept. 28-30 when Avaya Stadium plays host to the launch of Kerri Walsh Jennings’ new beach volleyball series, organizers announced Thursday.

The three-day professional beach volleyball tournament known as p1440 is a mix of sports, music festival and health-and-wellness exposition. It’s the brainchild of Walsh Jennings, a five-time Olympian who graduated from Stanford University and San Jose-Archbishop Mitty High School.

Avaya Stadium has held international, MLS and College Cup soccer games, international rugby matches, an Ultimate Frisbee tournament and viewing parties for the entire 2018 World Cup. But now it is going to turn into a volleyball stadium with the help of 2,800 tons of sand.

“It feels amazing to see the hard work and dedication of our team coming to life in such a bold, beautiful way,” Walsh Jennings said in a prepared statement. “The fact that our first event is in my hometown, where I fell in love with the game and where my family is—it’s a dream come true.”

Walsh Jennings, 39, created the eight-event tour this year after splitting with the long-running domestic series by the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP). One of the most successful beach volleyball players in history, Walsh Jennings left the U.S. tour because she felt officials lacked the vision to grow beach volleyball in America.

The new tour has announced it will stop in Las Vegas, San Diego and Huntington Beach in 2018 with events being held in stadiums instead of on the beach. Four more stops are planned for 2019. None of the dates are in conflict with the AVP’s summer schedule or the FIVB world tour that serves as qualifiers for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Walsh Jennings’ decision to leave the AVP tour also partially led to the end of her partnership with April Ross, the woman she won a bronze medal with at the Rio Games. Now Walsh Jennings is training to qualify for her sixth Olympic team with Nicole Branagh of Orinda. Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor won three consecutive gold medals from 2004-2012.

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