At 10:30 this morning, my partner, Kevin Villela, and I, played our first match of the Midwest Beach Volleyball Championships. It was at Grand Sands, a sprawling beach volleyball complex in Loveland, Ohio, complete with seven indoor courts, seven outdoor courts, and, of course, a bar.

Forty-seven other teams were also there at 10:30 this morning, from pretty much every little pocket of beach volleyball you can find in this country: Columbus, Cleveland, California, Annapolis, Florida, New Orleans, Alabama, North Carolina, Indiana. I’d go on but I think you get the point: The beach volleyball world descended upon this map dot, and I finally understand why.

The heart of beach volleyball beats in Midwest America.