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The Ute from Bountiful brings beach volleyball to Salt Lake, with help from a Cougar



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SALT LAKE CITY — "I heard they were having a stop here in Utah and I about lost my mind."

Sure isn't tough to get Jake Gibb fired up to play beach volleyball especially when the two-time Olympian gets to bring the whole AVP Tour with him to his old stomping grounds in August.

"It's amazing," Gibb said to the gathering media, sponsors and a handful of family that came to the historic announcement at Liberty Park Wednesday. "I grew up here, in Bountiful, went to college here at the University of Utah, actually lived up the street and would come here to these courts everyday, whenever I could."

The AVP, Association of Volleyball Professionals, chairman Dick Carle said Gibb's success helped make this possible.


It's amazing. I grew up here, in Bountiful, went to college here at the University of Utah, actually lived up the street and would come here to these courts everyday, whenever I could.

–Jake Gibb


"He's a beach volleyball hero," Carle said. "One of those Olympians, one of those who has represented not only the AVP but the area in and around Salt Lake very, very well."

Libery Park is part of Utah history again. Carle said Utah's Olympic, and other sport's, fans make this ideal for this trending event.

"I know you guys can really throw and athletic party," Carle said.

University of Utah women's volleyball coach Beth Launiere is a huge fan, pointing out in the not-too-distant-future beach volleyball could be a sanctioned college sport.

"It's sun and fun and loud music," Launiere said. "I think that is attractive to a lot of people but they're great athletes that play this sport too and I don't want that to get lost."

Gibb was struggling with getting his head wrapped around a career in business when his wife Jane said something like, "Well then forget it for now and go chase your dream on the So. Cal beaches."

Gibb turned his club volleyball career at the "U" into a pretty good business venture of its own. His career earnings on the Pro Beach Volleyball Tour is over a million dollars, and that isn't including endorsements.

Now after back to back trips to Olympic Medal rounds the 37-year-old Gibb isn't at all worried that he's getting too old. The upset loss in London last summer is driving him toward the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro where he'll be 40.

"The loss in London is still sharp, but what are you going to do?" Gibb said. "You move on and you try and win tournaments and heck, even qualify for the next Olympics in Rio."

The former Ute is also bring a real Utah rarity. A teammate that bridges the fabled BYU/Utah rivalry. His new partner is 33-year-old Casey Patterson. He is a former Cougar indoor volleyball player. They're coming off a silver medal at an international event in Brazil. Both looking forward to this August's SLC tour stop that will be carried live on CBS-TV.

"I'm hoping we get a big fan base out here and it blows up," Patterson said.

The venue will be near the Liberty Park Extended. The baseball fields at 13th So. and 7th East. Coming on Aug. 16,17 and 18. The top seven men's teams will be there. Here are some intriguing statistics from the AVP to paint a picture of the "rock 'n roll" atmosphere. Median age of beach volleyball fans is 32 years old. The breakdown is 50/50 of male and female fans. 81 percent of the fans attended college.

Tom Kirkland

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