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TERRY JONES: Beach volleyball tournament features plenty of interesting attractions

Team USA's John Hyden, left, and Ryan Doherty play Team Austria's Maximilian Trummer and Felix Friedl during the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, in Edmonton Thursday July 18, 2019.
Team USA's John Hyden, left, and Ryan Doherty play Team Austria's Maximilian Trummer and Felix Friedl during the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, in Edmonton Thursday July 18, 2019.

There was a time when the midway at the fair featured a tent with a barker positioned out front enticing people to come in and see all manner of attractions, oddities and freakishness.

“Come one. Come all. Live on the inside. For ten cents, one thin dime, one tenth of a dollar. See the bearded lady, the world’s tallest man, the human pin cushion … ”

Inside the tent were a variety of curiosities to tempt the passing parade of people on the midway.

Maybe they ought to set up a barker at the southwest corner of the K-Days midway leading into the old Northlands Park racetrack where the curiosity is not only the beaches they built to play host to the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event, which is part of the midway admission price for the final three days of competition.

Beach volleyball, they’ll discover, is a treasure trove of the odd and the unusual and the quirky.

Come one. Come all. See the world’s tallest minor league baseball player in history.

Step right up and feast your eyes on a former NBA basketball player who played in that big top for seven seasons.

And, well, you missed this one. But Thursday you could have seen Twins Vs Twins for only the second time in history.

Live on the inside, there’s an almost endless parade of human-interest stories.

Ryan Doherty and teammate John Hyden began the tournament representing the USA as the fourth seeded men’s team against a 29th-place Austrian team at 10 a.m. Thursday on Court 3.

At seven-foot-one, Doherty, played college baseball at Notre Dame and joined the Arizona Diamondbacks organization from 2005 to 2007 as a relief pitcher, becoming the tallest player in minor league baseball history.

Ending up in the independent Frontier League, he realized he was never going to make it to the big leagues. One day he woke up and drove to Huntington Beach in California and began playing beach volleyball by day and delivering pizza by night with the goal of becoming a pro beach volleyball star.

He hasn’t reached star status yet, but he did get paid to do a photo shoot as an underwear model.

He’s now played in FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour events in well over a dozen different countries and added another one here in the first tour event in Canada since 2011 in Quebec City.

Hyden is a curiosity himself. He’s 46.

Who plays professional beach volleyball at age 46?

The two were a high wire circus act against Felix Friedl and Maximillian Trummer of Austria Thursday and damn near ended up as the Flying Wallendas at this show.

The 29th seeds went the distance in losing 20-22, 21-17 and 15-11.

The win assured Doherty and Hayden that they’d be around Friday when the K-Days midway opened.

Chase Budinger is the former NBA player.

A six-foot-seven forward with the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Suns, he had cashed NBA cheques for $18 million over his seven seasons. But in 2017, Budinger was only getting offers to play basketball in Europe.

He had some volleyball in his background, being the US national high school indoor volleyball player of the year in 2006. And when phoned to tell him 2006 Olympian Casey Patterson was interested in becoming his teammate, he decided to join him trying to collect Olympic qualifying points at FIVB World Tour events like this.

Partnered with Patterson, Budinger began the tournament seeded sixth and opened at 11 a.m. at centre court against 27th seeded Canadians Cameron Wheelan and Sergiy Grabovsky.

The Americans won it 21-16 and 21-11.

Thursday the women’s main draw money games began with Canada’s recently crowned world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in action. But from a point of view of attractions, oddities and freakishness there was an all-timer live on the inside.

It was Twins Vs Twins.

FIVB has been sanctioning beach volleyball since 1987 and only once before have two sets of twins met in the same World Tour beach volleyball match.

It was the third seed 21-year-old McNamara twins of Canada versus the 30th-seed 23-year-old Strauss twins of Austria.

Back in March was the first time it happened.

In Visakhapatnam, India, the same Strauss sisters, Teresa and Nadine defeated 17-year-old Nourse twin sisters Audrey and Nicole of the United States.

The expectations, as the seeding would indicate was that the Strauss twins would end up 1-1 for their twin bills but it didn’t work that way.

The Strauss sisters made beautiful music against Vancouver’s Megan and Nicole in the match that went into the books 12-21, 21-19, 15-10.

The loss doesn’t mean that you can’t see Canada’s McNamera twins live on the inside when the midway opens Friday.

The team that led UCLA to two straight American collegiate crowns remained alive. They’ll meet 14th seed Martina Bonnerova and Martina Maixnerova of the Czech Republic Friday.

If they win that, they advance to the first round of elimination play as if nothing happened.

If they lose, well, their pass will get them free admission to the midway the rest of the week.

There’s no lack of attractions, oddities and curiosities at the beach at Northlands Park. But if you talk to the visitors, it is Edmonton itself that is right up there when it comes to all of the above with the oddity of four competition beaches at the recently retired horse race site and daylight late into the evening.

That inspired Tim Simmons, the FIVB Media Delegate, to come up with the following statistic:

“Only five FIVB World Tour stops — at events in Finland, Russia, Norway and Sweden — have been held closer to the North Pole than this week’s stop in Edmonton.

“The Isle of Aland at Mariehamn staged four World Tour events and was the closest site to the North Pole,” he informed your correspondent of the autonomous entirely Swedish-speaking archipelago province in the Baltic Sea belonging to Finland.

Simmons also noted St. Petersburg, Russia hosted four, Stavager and Kristiansand in Norway and Goteborg, Sweden as a first-time host this year, are the only World Tour hosts that have been located closer to the North Pole than Edmonton.

Actually, Simmons himself can probably be listed as one of the curiosities.

From Longmont, Colorado he is 72-years-old and currently on a six-week road trip for events in Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and Austria.

Northlands Park is just crawling with characters this weekend.

Live on the inside …

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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