SIESTA KEY, Fla. (July 20, 2018) – Victoria Henkel became more aware of her father’s beach volleyball cred when he was featured in a video at a big tournament.
“He doesn’t really talk about his beach volleyball career, but when we went to the FIVB event in Long Beach, they showed a video of him and Karch and Sinjin playing,” Victoria said. “It was cool to see my father play, all fit and stuff.”
Victoria Henkel’s father, Carl, finished fifth with partner Sinjin Smith when beach volleyball made its Olympic Games debut in 1996 in Atlanta. After graduating from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach in 1987 and UCLA in 1991, Carl Henkel was a regular on the AVP and FIVB tours until the early 2000s.
A few years and a few (really, not that many) pounds later, the Whittier Law School graduate is working as a real estate broker and still plays in the occasional four-man beach tournament and indoors with a masters’ team.
He moonlights as Victoria’s volleyball coach, both indoor and beach.
This week, the two traveled from Southern California to compete with the Sunshine Volleyball Club at the USA National Beach Tour – Junior Beach National Championships in Siesta Key.
Victoria, who is 12, is playing in the 12U division, which is competing along with the 16U division on July 19-21. On July 22-24, the 14U and 18U divisions will take over. More than 300 athletes are expected to compete over the course of the tournament.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” Carl Henkel said of being Victoria’s father and coach. “I can be a little rough around her with how competitive I am.
“She asked me to coach her, which is weird because I am super intense. I am ultra-competitive.”
Victoria said she may have acquired a some of her father’s tenaciousness.
“I kind of want to be a lawyer,” she said. “My mom always said, ‘You’re a very good negotiator. You should become a lawyer.’”
But before her law career, Carl Henkel would like Victoria to see the opportunities that could open for her if she continues to play volleyball, which she said she wants to do. Those opportunities are on display in Siesta Key as college beach volleyball coaches patrol the courts hoping to recruit new women’s players.
He would also like to see the sport better promoted at the professional level.
“The promotion is somewhat similar to when I stopped playing,” he said. “It hasn’t grown as much as we would have liked.
“Hopefully it can catch fire again and find a place in America’s heart, which I think it’s doing little-by-little. Events like this can help get it in the minds of the parents of America. We’ll see. The future seems bright, but it always seems bright.”