From the crowds, to the competition field to all of the surrounding elements that make P1440 unique, founder Kerri Walsh Jennings sat down with VolleyMob to take a look back at the beach volleyball tour, health and wellness fair and concert series’ opening stop at the San Jose Invitational.
Walsh Jennings had a full plate as a competitor – playing alongside Swiss star Anouk Verge-Depre; supportive wife – husband Casey Jennings was playing in his first major competition in nearly two years; founder – balancing autograph appearances, interviews, TV checkins, etc.; and fan – taking in all of the events available and even doing a little shopping on the side.
VolleyMob: First of all, how did you balance it all?
KWJ: My goal was to have a lot of fun and to be present. Having a lot of fun was really easy. Everywhere I looked made me smile because I saw my husband playing and I saw my kids enjoying the offerings, I saw the community so engaged and immersed in everything we built. The vibe at the venue was so real and truthful and positive. It just filled me up.
So, the fun was easy, the being present was actually easy as well. I feel like when there is so much going on and you have so much responsibility, if you are not in the moment you can’t execute. When I was in the volleyball mode and playing I was in the moment and I was able to be where my feet were. When I was signing autographs, I was able to be in the moment with everyone in line. When I was saying thank you to the staff and talking to our experts, wherever I was I was just all there, and I didn’t know if that was going to be possible.
But I think all this training I do to be focused and, in the moment, really helped me out. That was hugely beneficial and also knowing that all the hard work was done. We just needed to execute on our plan, that simplified it as well.
Real talk… you probably need a nap?
I did, and I did not get it. We got home last night back to LA and all of us are sick. My husband is in bed sick, I had practice early this morning and I’m about to crash right now and our kids are little bit sick. It’s just like when you put your heart and soul into something and you haven’t been off your body lets down.
I know the nap is coming, but I’m still riding high. Even though I’m so exhausted because there was so much output. I received so much love, and there was so much going on. The output was a lot emotionally and mentally, and I’m pretty drained. You know I watched a little bit of our broadcast on ABC and they had me in the booth, and I should not have been there. I was talking so fast and was so in-articulate. It was such a representation of where I was at in that moment, just very spent.
Always wonderful to have @kerrileewalsh join @hmcpeak1 and me in the booth 🎤📺 Had a blast calling @platform1440 ‘s inaugural event 👀 competition was 🔥🔥🔥 and the atmosphere was INSPIRING 🧘♀️ Can’t wait for Vegas ✈️ pic.twitter.com/wme261ssa2
— Anne Marie Anderson (@AnneMAnderson) September 30, 2018
Your goal from the beginning of p1440 was to have international competition featuring the best in the world and offer more opportunities for beach volleyball players of all skill levels. How does it feel to have accomplished that with the first P1440 event?
We had so many big wins this weekend and that was a huge one for me and our team at P1440. The fact that we had the Norwegians (Anders Mol/Christian Sorum), who are the No. 1 team in the world, the Latvians, who we love and adore. On the women’s side, we had Taiana Lima playing with Jolien (Sinnema), a Netherlander. It was so rad to see. We knew it was going to take time for the international pairings to come together, especially since Olympic qualifying just started, but for me to play with Anouk and to really understand the opportunity that we’ve created for the athletes to play with someone from a different country, to train with them and to learn a different way of playing and thinking; it was a huge gift to me.
I thought it was a hugely successful part of what we offered. You know the athletes, everyone I talked to, were just so stoked to play in such an event that they were so appreciated, and the sport was so honored. I really appreciate how we executed on the volleyball side of things and I think It was really fun for the internationals who brought their coaches to have their coaches in the box. It’s such a luxury to be able to learn during the competition with your coach in the box, and I know that the Brazilians really enjoyed that, and I enjoyed having Marcio (Sicoli) in the box for Anouk (Verge-Depre) and I.
Editor’s Note: Canadians Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson, p1440 sponsored athletes won the women’s title, while Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Martins Plavins took home the men’s title. Both winners went home with $28,000. Second place finishers received $18,000 and the two third place teams per gender garnered $12,000. Total prize money for the event was $300,000.
Finishing third is not bad for having a new partner and running the show… You have to feel good about how you played given everything else you were balancing?
We had high hopes. I wanted to hand myself that big check, but we fell short and we lost to really good teams. It was a lot of fun, and I love, love, love playing with Anouk. I have respected her for so long. It has been so amazing to get to know the heart of her, and she is such a fierce competitor. So, I was not satisfied with third, but I was really happy that we worked. We really worked till the end, and we got better as we went. Had we had more practices and more time to play with each other, I know we’d be kick butt. But we have to be satisfied with third for now.
Not only were you focused on your time on the court, your husband Casey was back on the court. Was it good to be able to see him play again?
Oh, hell yeah. He’s my favorite player of all time. I mean A, because I adore the guy, but he really is my favorite player. No one in the world plays with as much passion and heart every point, and that is a bold statement because there are some amazingly entertaining and passionate athletes, but he just leads the charge and he always has.
So, I didn’t get to watch him play enough, but what I saw, he was so rad. He’s virtually taken two years off of truly competing since 2016, and he was right there with the big dogs getting served every ball, scooping balls, playing alongside his dear friend Pedro. I heard many, many times that he keeps blowing people away. He’s always been the underdog and I know he gets sick of proving himself, but every time I see him play, it’s just a reaffirmation of how dope my husband is. When you got it, you got it, and he has it.
When you look back at the event as a whole, how did everything come together? Were you happy with it?
I can’t speak highly enough of the execution and the flow and feel of the event. I have never been to an event in my whole life like the one we put on last weekend in San Jose. Each of our pillars were so beautifully and powerfully curated. People who showed up in the health and wellness village; they loved it, learned from it and will take new things into their lives. Same thing with the volleyball, same thing with the entertainment and the fitness that we had. It was so special. We have something so beautiful and so powerful there. We had thousands of people there to enjoy it.
The only dissatisfaction I have is that we didn’t have thousands of more people. That is my only complaint, but I know we can adjust that. We know we can target our marketing a little bit better; we know we can do community outreach a little bit more. As far as the onsite experience, I honestly believe that every single person felt like they were VIP, as they should. Every person who payed 40 bucks for a ticket got hundreds of dollars-worth of information and a priceless experience. That part was so, so successful.
As you look ahead at Las Vegas (Oct. 19-21), which is an Olympic qualifying event tied in with FIVB, what are the tweaks for the future?
I think we are just going to keep fine tuning and keep evolving. We’re going to work on our footprint and tightening up our experience. We’re going to definitely better strategically market our events. We are not ticketing for Las Vegas; general admission is free because we want people to experience us. I think that is a really important thing. Before San Jose happened, we had no assets to promote. It was basically just me on a megaphone talking about what we are and such a hard job to talk about what we are because we are so much. It’s such a hard job to talk about what we are because we are so much.
The fact that we had this very successful event, we have all this content and all these sizzle reels that we can go to the market, we can go to the brands and say check us out visually. It’s going to help us move forward powerfully. We’re going to take that to the media, take that to the schools, take that to the community and the surrounding communities. It’s really exciting.
There is something we did before the tournament on Thursday. My husband set up a visit to Stanford Children’s Hospital and a lot of us athletes went, and it was so powerful and so inspiring for us athletes. It was a beautiful way to support the community and we want to leave the community better for us being there. So little things like that, giving service to the community is really what we want to lead with. I think we had a great start in San Jose and we’ll carry that on to Vegas moving forward.
What’s next for you? We know you qualified for NORCECA in October with Kelly Claes and are scheduled to compete in Las Vegas with Brooke Sweat.
It’s like my season is just starting. It’s been such a weird year competitively. Kelly and I are going to go to the China Four Star, so qualifying starts a week from Wednesday. I will be there qualifying with Kelly. I come home, play in Vegas, then I’m going to go to Mexico and then it’s kind of game on. We’ll have two more P1440 events after Vegas.
My life is very simple, but it is very full. I have my family, I have my faith and my career, and I’m all in for all of those things. I want to go to Tokyo 2020, qualifying has begun. I’m really looking forward to that, and I’m really looking forward to building on the momentum that we have started at P1440. Getting people to check out the app and live every day with us, not just at our experiences. Then to stay present with my family. If I can do those three things, then life will be more beautiful than I can ever imagine.
You have kept us guessing with these different partners with p1440 and NORCECA. Who’s going to Mexico with you?
I haven’t announced my partnership moving forward, but I can’t wait to do that. I think it’s coming this week.
I’m so damn excited. The journey to Tokyo is going to be just as gnarly and amazing as any Olympic journey of mine has ever been, and I’m really excited to do it with a partner who said yes to me. It’s going to be fantastic.
Thanks @DoTheBay 🙌🙌🙌 We had an amazing time in #sanJose Can’t wait to come back to the Bay & do our thing 🏐🎶💪🧘♀️🏋️♂️🏓📚💃🕺🤙 https://t.co/ePc5FhYUoS
— Kerri Walsh Jennings (@kerrileewalsh) October 3, 2018
This weekend wouldn't be possible without the help from our amazing volunteers! 🙏 #Team1440 pic.twitter.com/zDueuuz5s7
— p1440 (@platform1440) September 30, 2018