Today I really want to celebrate a place (and people) that have done a huge amount to spread and grow the sport of beach volleyball in the UK: Yellowave Beach Sports centre, in Brighton. It’s one of the largest most successful beach volleyball centres in the UK, and is to be thanked for sucking hundreds of players into our beautiful game. That doesn’t mean it was easy, though! I caught up with co-founder Katie Mintram, and we chatted about where it all started, what Yellowave is all about and what is still to come. Enjoy!
Please can you introduce Yellowave-where is it, what is it, and when was Yellowave founded?
Yellowave is situated slap bang on Brighton Beach between the Pier and the Marina. It’s a little oasis of sand with a Californian vibe. The most heard comment from people wandering in is ‘Ooh I feel like I’m on holiday’. The venue, which opened in 2007, has 6 beach volleyball courts, a café, kids sandy play area, SW facing deck and a beautiful room called the Clubhouse which is available to hire, hosting classes like yoga and Pilates. The venue opened its doors to the public in 2007 and is open year round, come rain or shine.
What inspired you to found a beach volleyball centre?
I took up volleyball at Leeds Met Uni but soon turned to the beach game. My best pal, Becky, and I headed off on a post-uni adventure to Huntington Beach, California and lived the Cali life for a year, learning to surf, playing in some of the southern beach tournaments and waitressing tables to keep our beach life afloat as long as possible. One adventure led to another and I headed off on a world tour with Spencer, my now husband (and another Director of the company). I was sat in a telephone box on Manly Corso (pre-mobile phones) when my dad asked the classic dad question: “so Katie, what are you going to do with your life then?” My reply: “well I’ve had this idea……..” And so the Yellowave idea was born. It took 7 years from idea to opening and it wouldn’t have happened without my amazing dad’s support.
Over an average week in the summer, what happens and how many people come and play?
We can have around 2000 players through our doors in a busy summer’s week, many of which are the same people coming back. The community vibe is massive. It’s a wonderful atmosphere with really nice people enjoying the beach vibe, making friends and drinking good coffee together. Monday-Thursday we have after-school clubs and numerous adult evening leagues running, Fridays there are monthly BBQ and music evenings and weekends are packed with drop-in coaching sessions and bi-monthly tournaments. Of course in between that there are groups of players simply hiring a court and enjoying the beautiful game. Add in guest coaching sessions and it’s a fabulous mix with something for everyone.
What was the biggest challenge involved with opening and running Yellowave?
The cost of building the venue was the biggest initial challenge. We had to take a huge risk and put our home on the line against a big loan. We also had absolutely no idea how to start such a project or run a business. It was such an immense learning curve. And of course we are still learning now.
What are the centre’s plans for the future?
We are keen to become as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. We have just confirmed installation of solar panels this winter so that we can reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. In our 13th year we are dedicated to keeping on bringing the joy of the game to new players. Getting beginners through our doors and addicted to the game and lifestyle is what it is all about for us. One of the reasons we don’t have a membership is that we want to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
If someone hasn’t been to Yellowave yet, when should they come and visit?
They can come whenever they want! But a great way to start is to join in with one of our Saturday morning 1hr coaching sessions with Damo or Spencer. The cost is £6.50 per person and are super good fun. It’s all about having fun on sand, having a giggle and making new friends, so that you want to come back for both the social side and the game. Then you get hooked and before you know it you become a regular in all the leagues and tournaments.
What is the best thing about running Yellowave?
There’s a moment each week which I never take for granted, when I meet up with my regular gang of Thursday morning players, grab a two hour game, shower, get myself a flat white and settle down in front of my computer, looking out across the courts and venue and knowing so many people are enjoying a similar moment to mine in their week.
Thanks Katie! If you are interested in checking out Yellowave, then you can find more information here. If you have any stories about what makes Yellowave a special place for you, then please do leave a comment below-I’d love to hear them!