Beach of Dreams: Nobles, Powell has his sights set on pro volleyball careers | News, Sports, Jobs


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Tambre Nobles (left) and Melissa Fuchs Powell compete in the pro beach volleyball circuit.

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Melissa Fuchs Powell (above) and Tambre Nobles pose for a photo. Former Utah collegiate volleyball stars compete as a team on the pro volleyball circuit.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Fuchs Powell

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Tambre Nobles (left) celebrates with teammate Melissa Fuchs Powell while taking part in a professional beach volleyball tournament.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Fuchs Powell

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Former Utah volleyball player Melissa Fuchs Powell (center) tackles the ball during a pro beach volleyball event while teammate Tambre Nobles looks on.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Fuchs Powell

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Former BYU volleyball star Tambre Nobles jumps in the sand while playing pro beach volleyball.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Fuchs Powell

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Former BYU star Tambre Nobles (left) and former Utah star Melissa Fuchs Powell pose together while attending a pro volleyball tournament.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Fuchs Powell

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Tambre Nobles’ backyard is filled with a truckload of their hopes and dreams.

Nobles, who played outside racquet for the BYU-promoted NCAA championship game team in 2014, has a large sand volleyball court out the back door of her Lehi home.

Melissa Fuchs Powell, who was preparing at Pleasant Grove and finishing her college career at the University of Utah, had similar dreams, and fate brought them together.

Nobles and Powell have embarked on a challenging journey as professional beach volleyball players, taking on some of the best teams in the world in places like Brazil, Qatar, Turkey and Lithuania. They have climbed into the top 150 of the world rankings of around 30,000 registered beach volleyball players. A few weeks ago, Nobles and Powell qualified for their first main draw on the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Tour in Michigan.

Utah hasn’t produced many good beach volleyball players over the years, but that’s changing. Nobles and Powell jokingly call themselves the “Jamaican bobsleigh team of beach volleyball,” a reference to Jamaicans’ unlikely Olympic experience in the sport in 1988.

“The last couple of years we’ve been trying to qualify for the AVP Tour and it’s been super tough,” Powell said. “We’ve traveled to a lot of events and lost to a few Olympians. We got better faster and played against better teams. We feel like it’s our time and a dream come true.”

Nobles joined BYU from Northern Colorado in 2013 and helped the unseeded Cougars in the 2014 NCAA championship game before losing to Penn State. Her younger sisters Lyndie Haddock-Eppich and Lacy Haddock were a big part of the BYU team, which stayed at No. 1 for most of the 2018 season and advanced to the Final Four.

After completing her college credentials, Nobles settled into life with her husband, Bryce, and eventually their two children. Nobles coached the Lehi girls’ volleyball team for several years, but also started playing beach volleyball.

“I just fell in love with the sport,” she says. “I competed in a few tournaments and got better. I had the dream of playing beach volleyball professionally.”

Busy with her young family, Nobles decided to build a sand volleyball court in her backyard.

“I had to be able to train,” she says. “It was nice to be able to do this at my house. The children were able to sleep in a comfortable environment and that was a great blessing.”

This is where Powell came in.

Powell played for Allyce Jones at Pleasant Grove and helped the Vikings to a state title in their 2012 senior season. Powell competed in Central Michigan and Houston Baptist before going to the University of Utah and its fledgling beach program.

She graduated in 2018, married BYU soccer player Riggs Powell, and began training at P1440, an organization run by US Olympic gold medalist Kari Walsh Jennings. Powell played on the World Tour Circuit with Allison Spurrier and competed on the Brazil Pro Tour during the pandemic. With dual citizenship, Powell played on the pro circuit for six months.

While living in Brazil, Powell marveled at the support these athletes received to advance their pro careers, and when she returned to Utah, she wanted to provide similar help.

Project Beach Utah was born with Powell as Founder, Director and CEO.

“Only the very best players in beach volleyball make good money, so it’s very difficult to make a career,” Nobles said. “Melissa wanted to start an organization to help grow beach volleyball in Utah and help those who wanted to go pro.”

A pro beach volleyball career requires intense training and support from a village of experts including coaches, physical therapists and nutritionists. Financial support is crucial for travel to events around the world.

Powell’s Project Beach Utah has three levels of training: Beginner, Development and Pro. Nobles joined the development tier and quickly rose through the internal ranking system, which includes points for attendance, tournament results, practice completion, and personal training. In her freshman year at Project Beach Utah, Nobles ranked number one.

“I was really impressed with Tambre,” Powell said. “We wanted the same things.”

The two became playing partners and began competing in professional beach events.

“We approach problems in a pretty similar way,” Powell said. “We see things the same way and it’s a really good learning experience. It’s like marriage when you learn how to communicate with a partner.”

At 6 feet tall, Nobles said playing indoor volleyball always made her feel a little small.

“I love the transition to the beach because size doesn’t matter,” she said. “What counts is ball control and you have to be a versatile player.”

Project Beach Utah, which trains at the Sand Bar and Sports Mall in Salt Lake City, is rapidly growing and gaining prominence in the volleyball world. Powell started with about eight players in her organization, but by this past fall the number had grown to 70 athletes. Powell was able to pay for a full-time coach, former Brazilian Olympian Cristine Sant’Anna.

The help of sponsors allows Nobles and Powell to travel to professional tournaments in the US and abroad. These sponsors include Teriyaki Grill (owned by former BYU soccer player Mike Keim), The Iron Cowboy, DownEast Outfitters, Auto Savvy, Wags Capital (owned by former BYU soccer player Aaron Wagner), Keto Chow, and Unishippers.

“It’s super important to have people in your corner to support you,” Nobles said. “It’s a great blessing because there aren’t many players who have that kind of support to help them pursue their dreams. I feel so blessed that this opportunity has arisen for me.”

Now that the pair has grabbed a peloton at an AVP event, they’re confident they can keep growing. This week they travel to Greece to compete in the Beach Volleyball World Pro Tour.

“I feel like our goals are more achievable every day and every tournament we play in,” Powell said. “We want to try to get to the Olympics in 2024 or 2028. We love being the underdogs and being from Utah.”



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