The Association of Volleyball Professionals, or AVP, is a beach volleyball tour which takes place throughout the United States. The summer tour starts in April and continues almost every weekend until the end of September and a winter tour starts in January and hosts tournaments Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until the end of February.
Effective August 13, 2010 AVP discontinued operations because of financial hardship. The investment group RJSM Partners, which was originally a minority investor in AVP,has had a controlling interest in it since April 2009. The tour’s marquee event, the Manhattan Open, would still take place, although under constrained circumstances.
A follow-up organization, called the National Volleyball League, was launched by professional player and former AVP executive Albert Hannemann in time for the 2011 season.
The Association of Volleyball Professionals began on July 21, 1983, as a reaction by the top beach volleyball players to what they perceived as overly-greedy private tournament promoters. The frst logo design was provided by Ken Jencks and Steve Fisher of the Manhattan Beach Recreation Department.
One of the earliest tour sponsors was Miller Lite beer and play involved a double-elimination format, with select tournaments sponsored byJose Cuervo tequila offering additional prize money and a unique format that narrowed the field to the top 8 teams, which then played in a round-robin to determine the top two teams for the championship match. Only men were allowed to compete on the tour until the women’s tour, the Women’s Professional Volleyball Association which had a separate sponsorship with Coors, ceased operations in the late 80′s and a women’s format was added to the AVP tour schedule.
The winningest men’s teams in the history of the tour include Jim Menges/Greg Lee (70′s), Sinjin Smith/Randy Stoklos (80′s), Karch Kiraly/Kent Steffes (90′s), and Todd Rogers/Phil Dalhausser (00′s). After the merger of the AVP and the WPVA/BVA, the top women’s teams include Holly McPeak/Nancy Reno (80′s) and then McPeak with Elaine Youngs (90′s), Misty May/Kerri Walsh, and Elaine Youngs/Nicole Branaugh (00′s), along with Rachel Wacholder-Scott and Jenn Kessy-Boss/April Ross.
After experiencing a boom in interest in the 80′s, the tour fell on hard financial times and filed for bankruptcy in the late 90′s, still owing prize money to players, the most vocal of whom was Steffes who refused to play in any more professional tournaments unless the tour could actually show him the cash prize money. When the AVP logo was picked up by Leonard Armato and the tour was reconstituted under Armato’s guidance, Steffes was one player who was noticeably absent. Still, the tour managed to attract the top men’s and women’s players and continued to grow.
When Scott Ayakatubby and Brian Lewis won the season championship with Nissan as the tour’s title sponsor, they were given the use of bright-yellow Nissan pick-up trucks for a year. During the off-season, Ayakatubby was involved in a drunk-driving accident with his truck; wherein he bounced off a series of parked cars on either side of a residential street while trying to drive to his apartment late at night after heavy drinking. Nissan revoked its sponsorship for the following season. Ayakatubby entered an alcohol rehabilitation program and was never in contention for a title thereafter. Lewis quit playing on the tour and pursued commercial opportunities with Quiksilver, marketing nutritional supplements.
After Nissan terminated its relationship with the AVP, the main tournament sponsorship was picked up by Crocs footwear, who agreed to continue to use the bright yellow with black trim “corporate colors” that the AVP had agreed to use under Nissan’s sponsorship. Due to market downturn, Crocs ended its sponsorship two seasons later. During the final year of play of the AVP, Nivea had signed as the title sponsor.
The 2010 AVP NIVEA Tour
In 2010 the AVP was scheduled to host 12 major events all over the United States but instead ceased operations in July, approximately half-way through the tour’s 2010 calendar, and filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of October. The tour, up to that point, had featured more than 150 of the world’s best volleyball athletes; among them Olympic Gold medalists Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh, Phil Dalhausser, and Todd Rogers.
- Misty May-Treanor – Two-time Olympic gold medalist
- Kerri Walsh – Two-time Olympic gold medalist
- Holly McPeak – Olympic Bronze Medalist (retired)
- Elaine Youngs – Olympic Bronze Medalist
- Rachel Wacholder-Scott
- Jennifer Kessy
- April Ross
- Tyra Turner
- Tatiana “Tati” Minello
- Jenny Johnson Jordan
- Annett Davis
- Suzanne Stonebarger
- Michelle More
- Nicole Branagh – Olympian
- Angie Akers
- Karch Kiraly- 144 Open wins, 3-time Olympic gold medalist
- Sinjin Smith- 92 AVP wins
- Randy Stoklos- 96 AVP wins
- Tim Hovland- 46 AVP wins
- Mike Dodd- 62 AVP wins
- Kent Steffes
- Phil Dalhausser- 2008 Olympic gold medalist
- Mike Lambert
- Stein Metzger
- Dax Holdren
- Jeff Nygaard
- Jake Gibb
- Matt Fuerbringer
- Casey Jennings
- Todd Rogers- 2008 Olympic gold medalist
- Dain Blanton
- Eric Fonoimoana
- Sean Scott
- Adam Johnson
- Kevin Wong
The top players on the 2005 AVP tour were Jake Gibb / Stein Metzger on the men’s side and Kerri Walsh-Jennings / Misty May-Treanor on the women’s side.
The top players on the 2006 AVP tour were Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers on the men’s side. Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh-Jennings were the top players on the women’s side. The top rivals, respectively were Mike Lambert/Stein Metzger on the men’s side and Rachel Wacholder/Elaine Youngs on the women’s side.