Beach volleyball foursome enshrined on Manhattan Beach Pier
MANHATTAN BEACH — While players down on the sand Thursday were trying to qualify to get into the main draw of this week’s Manhattan Beach Open, four rather terrific beach volleyball players were up on the pier for the Walk of Fame ceremony honoring their 2016 championships at the granddaddy of them all.
Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson and Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar were the happy recipients of plaques they could take home. And they were overjoyed knowing that identical plaques would be forever embedded in the concrete deck of the pier.
For Gibb, it was his third such honor, so his name was already there. But the last time he won the event prior to 2016 was 2009, and the actual ceremony wasn’t yet a part of the festivities.
“It’s hard to describe, but I guess special is the word that comes to mind,” said Gibb, 41, a three-time Olympian and Huntington Beach resident. “It’s just so special to come here with family, with Casey, his family, and have a moment where we celebrate what we’ve accomplished.
“It’s just cool. I think you need to take a step back every once in a while because we’re in the middle of competing and you need to take a step back and say, ‘Hey, I’ve done some pretty cool things here, and this is awesome.’ ”
With family, friends and supporters making up a crowd of approximately 200, there were cheers of appreciation that had the foursome smiling. Patterson, 37, seemed particularly enthused.
“It’s a real special moment for us as beach volleyball players who always dream of being on this pier and winning this tournament,” said Patterson, out of Camarillo via Van Nuys. It’s his first such honor.
That he was able to receive this accolade with his loved ones – including his 9-day-old daughter Blake – in such a setting, was even better.
“It does make it sweeter,” Patterson said. “The family gets to be here, all your friends, all my sponsors are here. It’s such a cool thing to have them all here enjoying the moment together.”
Gibb is now partnering with Taylor Crabb, Patterson with Theo Brunner.
Day, of Torrance, and Long Beach State alum Hochevar matched the satisfaction of the men smile for smile. Their 2016 Manhattan Beach Open victory was their first.
Day, who attended West Torrance High, almost couldn’t believe what was happening.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “It’s still surreal that my name’s going to be there forever. It’s a huge honor. I mean, winning the Manhattan Beach Open and then forever being on the Manhattan Beach Pier is amazing.
“And as much as we like to celebrate Brittany and I in this accomplishment, it’s more than us. It’s our family and friends that have been there from Day 1, the hours of training, the coaches; it’s for everybody.”
Among the names in the concrete are Kerri Walsh and Misty May, the three-time Olympic gold-medal-winning duo. In speaking to Hochevar, it was obvious she realized the significance of her company.
“Nobody is bigger than the sport,” she said. “There’s always someone that comes before you and there’s always someone that will come after you. But I think you step into your own time and you can take your place rightfully among this company, there’s gravity to it, and I’m not talking about the actual weight of this plaque right now.
“There’s a massive gravity to it that makes me feel incredibly thankful for the gifts that I’ve been given and extremely appreciative for a platform to put those on.”
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