Different game, same results

Traci Weamer doesn't even own a TV, but she'll be on it Sunday.

Airing all day Sunday on the CBS Sports Network will be The Alt Games: College Action Sports Championships, and Weamer — a 2009 graduate of Concordia University in Irvine — will be among those featured for winning the beach volleyball competition with partner Jane Chafeh.

The Alt Games include competition in sports such as skateboarding, wakeboarding, flowboarding, beach volleyball and surfing. More than 1,300 competitors from more than 100 colleges across the nation competed in recent months in different locations leading up to this weekend's broadcast on CBS Sports. The beach volleyball action will be featured from 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday.

For Weamer, winning the beach volleyball competition, which took place last month in San Diego, was more than just another tournament. Weamer found herself at a crossroads in her volleyball career, having finished her collegiate playing career at Concordia in 2008, where she was a three-time NAIA All-American, and serving as an undergraduate assistant at the school in 2009.

The fact that she, coming from an NAIA school, and Chafeh, from NCAA Division II Cal State San Bernardino, could win when faced against players coming from highly touted Division I schools sent a message to others … and herself.

"When you come from an NAIA school or Division II school and you're going up against the Pac-10 or other dominant volleyball schools, it's harder to be recognized," Weamer said. "I appreciated the opportunity to compete against those girls."

Weamer not only competed, she won. Playing against Jessica Gysin (USC) and Caitlyn Racich (Pepperdine) in the finals, Weamer and Chafeh won, 15-10, 16-14.

"To compete against my peers, girls from schools with the same experience level, was good for me," Weamer said, reflecting on her experience playing in the now-defunct AVP. "In an AVP qualifying tournament I played against two women who were 35 and had 10 years of experience (on the beach) and we got crushed by them. So this gave me a glimmer of hope. Keep working and I'll get there, but it'll take some time."

Weamer had considered playing indoor volleyball in Europe, but her victory in The Alt Games gave her a clear direction.

"This is what I want to do in the next five, 10 years," Weamer said of playing on the beach.

Weamer has played in some AVP developmental tournaments, but now that the AVP has gone away, she's hoping to land with the National Volleyball League, which many are hoping can replace the void left by the AVP. The NVL had its first of six scheduled tournaments last month in Baltimore, and will host two in Southern California — July 22-24 in Malibu and Sept. 23-25 in Long Beach.

"I always wanted to play beach volleyball," said Weamer, who grew up in Upland and graduated from Western Christian High in Covina. "I was always jealous of those girls, they seemed so sophisticated and had such good ball control."

Weamer is one of those girls now, but the beach volleyball in The Alt Games was not typical. In an effort to get better competition, the event's directors came up with some interesting rules.

All the beach volleyball players had to play with different partners up until the semifinals. Their victories were totaled and the top four individuals engaged in a "school-yard" pick of the remaining players, choosing their partner for the semifinals. The winning teams in the semifinals remained intact for the finals.

Chafeh, who was among the top four individual winners, had the second pick and chose Weamer.

"They made that part of the broadcast," Weamer said. "I think they were trying to make it like 'Survivor.' "

But it was more than must-see TV. There was a lot of strategy involved.

"There definitely are some negatives," Weamer said. "There is something to team chemistry, and you don't have that when you're switching like that. They had players flown in from all over that I had never seen before.

"But on the positive side, it kept things fresh and fun. As the tournament goes on, you can see people's strengths when you play against them and then use that when you play with them. You also know players' weaknesses when you play with them, so you can exploit that when you go up against them."

Weamer will continue to pursue a professional beach volleyball career, while also coaching. This weekend she's in Phoenix with the T-Street volleyball 17U club team, but she might try to sneak away to a sports bar for a little while Sunday to catch a glimpse of herself, and quite possibly, a peek at what's to come.

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