LOWELL, Mich. — A big name in professional volleyball made a trip to West Michigan Sunday afternoon for a youth clinic to help promote the game.
John Hyden was on the Association of Volleyball Professional tour for nearly 20 years and is also a two-time Summer Olympian for the United States in 1996 and 2000.
On Sunday, Hyden put on a two-hour training session with TAG Beach Volleyball and fellow former AVP tour player, Bill Genovich.
"Raising the level and awareness for beach volleyball is huge," Hyden told FOX 17.
Which is a big reason why Hyden felt it was important to travel from his home in Nashville up to West Michigan to help work with the young players in our area.
"It's big in California, Florida and Texas but has been growing in the Midwest a bit," he added. "It's become a college sport now, there are scholarships for girls and it's also the fastest growing sport in the NCAA right now."
Genovich started TAG Beach Volleyball in 2019 and the sport's popularity in the Lowell area quickly grew because of it.
Sunday's clinic with a big name only helps with that.
"It's just great to have someone like him out here," Bill smiled. "He's such a great guy and athlete, we love having him out here and we're lucky to have him out here in West Michigan."
Hyden says he kept his message simple during Sunday's session with the kids.
"I just told them to enjoy it out here and hopefully they gain a little bit of the skills," Hyden added. "Just get a little bit better at the passing, the setting, the small steps that make the volleyball game much easier, that's what I'm here to do is help them with that."
The kids may not have been born when Hyden played in the Summer Olympics 25 and 21 years ago, respectively, but they respect his experience and were starstruck when he arrived.
"It's pretty amazing, it feels great, it was like 'oh my gosh, woah he played in the Olympics'," said 12-year-old Taryn Genoivch. "He knows what he's doing and know what he's teaching us."
Genovich's partner Annalise Clark, 13, was one of the many players who took a photo with Hyden prior to the event.
"I just think it's super cool that he came here and he wants to teach us," Clark said. "He was always giving us tips which really means a lot and he's paying attention to the small things to make us better."