How a Hockaday Freshman Became a Beach Volleyball Sand-out

Avery Jackson plays tournaments almost every weekend when her indoor team isn’t competing

Avery Jackson might live several hundred miles from the ocean, but she feels right at home on the beach.

The Hockaday freshman won a gold medal in the 14-and-under age group at the recent National Beach Tour Junior Championships in Huntsville, Alabama.

The national title culminates Jackson’s quick ascension in beach volleyball, which she began playing just three years ago. That’s when her Plano-based MadFrog club team opened a new facility that included outdoor beach courts.

“Most girls come from indoor and try beach for fun. I decided to try it competitively,” Jackson said. “It’s more difficult than indoor, but it’s also great cross-training.”

“Beach relies so much on the mental game and strategy because there (are) only two people covering the court.”

Avery Jackson

Jackson had been playing indoor volleyball for six years before trying the sand, which features just two players on each side instead of six. Now she plays beach tournaments almost every weekend when her indoor club team isn’t competing.

“You have to rely on both your offense and defense in beach,” said Jackson, who plays multiple positions for her indoor team. “Beach relies so much on the mental game and strategy because there (are) only two people covering the court. You really have to think about where you place the ball.”

Jackson comes from a volleyball family. Her mother and cousin each played competitively, and her aunt coached the sport for 35 years.

She’s also a standout in track and field, particularly in the sprint and jumping events. But volleyball is her primary focus, and she intends to keep playing on both surfaces as long as possible.

In her breakthrough season in 2019, Jackson won her first beach title at an event in Austin and later was the runner-up in her age group at a national tournament in California.

Her partner this year at nationals was Kenzie Miller, who lives near Austin. The two met at a tournament about a year ago and gradually developed chemistry. Meanwhile, Jackson refined her technique and training discipline.

“After getting second last year, I knew I had to train really hard. I worked on specific things instead of just getting better all-around,” she said. “We had been working really hard, and I’m glad that it paid off.”

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