Update, 8:30 p.m., July 3: Big Bend native Bill Kolinske successfully advanced out of the qualifying round and will play in the main draw this weekend.
The Milwaukee Brewers are out of town over this long weekend, but sports fans have another – unique option to scratch their pro sports itch. The Association of Volleyball Professionals professional beach volleyball tour makes a full stop in Milwaukee this weekend for the first time since the late ‘90s.
The main draw of the AVP Milwaukee Open runs through Sunday afternoon with players ranging from regional to Olympic athletes.
Bradford Beach hosts the event where admission is free to the public all weekend. Jeff Conover, AVP tournament director and director of sports and competition, explains why the AVP decided to travel to Milwaukee. “We’ve always had a really good following of beach volleyball in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas, a lot of local talent,” he says. “People out here just love the game, they love the lifestyle. So it’s an easy fit for us because we get great crowds and we get really good competition.”
As the tournament’s qualifying rounds progress, victory can vault young players into position to play against Olympic medalists like Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Todd Rodgers.
Having the competition held in Milwaukee also adds meaning to brother and sister hopefuls, Bill and Julie Kolinske of Big Bend. “The beach is where it’s at, and I’m really excited that it’s in our hometown,” says Julie.
Bill Kolinske recently moved to California to pursue professional beach volleyball, and is very glad that the path and his passion for the sport has led him back to Wisconsin. “It’s a different sport where you’re up close and personal with a lot of the athletes,” says Bill. “Everyone here has got a shot today…a lot of good teams playing against each other trying to get that shot to play against the pros.”