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Hawai‘i Dinosaur Volleyball Tournament brings out sport’s best

LIHU’E— This weekend, Kalapaki Bay’s partying like it’s 65 million B.C.

Every year, the Hawai’i Dinosaur Volleyball Tournament — Dino for short — brings gray-haired volleyball players across the globe to Nawiliwili’s Kalapaki Beach to compete against one another.

Comprised of more than 120 teams of older players — men’s partners must have a combined age of 80, while women’s teams must be 75 years or older — the tournament boasts a casual, yet competitive, environment where all are welcome.

But Joe Woo, 52, almost failed to even arrive after registering late.

As fate would have it though, Woo would inadvertently stumble across a friend of tournament director David Chaikin while playing a casual match in Hermosa Beach, California.

“We were just playing co-ed against each other and the Dino came up, and I was like, ‘I tried to register but I think it’s a little too late, I haven’t heard back, I can’t make plans. I don’t know what to do,’” he said. “And he’s like, ‘Well I know Dave — I’ll shoot him an email.’ A week later, I’m in the tournament. Just like that the energy turned around.”

Having reached the Dino for the first time on Thursday, Woo immediately took interest in the tournament’s unique approach to the sport.

“I’ve heard it best described as aloha spirit,” he said. “Everybody’s just nonconfrontational — I know like in L.A., people are confrontational in heated moments, but I fell like everybody (here is) kind of like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna let that go.’ It’s more chill, but it’s still competitive, and I’ve just never experienced this kind of energetic tournament.”

The Dino’s special environment is nothing new to Kimmy Vicknair, 47, though, as this is her sixth time competing.

After playing for nearly a decade — both in the U.S. and Slovenia — Vicknair now looks forward to the Dino, and the other competitors that come out for it, every year.

“We’re all ex-players … we still love playing the sport, but it’s not being so serious,” she said. “We just come here to have a good time, enjoy the sport that we love and enjoy friends.”

Every year, the tournament brings out some of volleyball’s greatest players, and this year is no exception.

Four-time Olympian Jake Gibb, 47, made his Dino debut this weekend after retiring from the professional tour in 2021.

Gibb first took interest in the tournament last year after his wife entered the competition for the first time. Now as a competitor himself, Gibb has immediately fallen in love with the Dino’s more mellow attitude.

“This is what beach volleyball is,” he said. “I grew up seeing beach volleyball being just laid back, great vibes, great people. It’s good.”

Despite having played beach volleyball for about three decades, even Gibb acknowledged the Dino’s incomparable atmosphere.

“I think the thing that happens is, you have a bunch of people that play volleyball at a high level, but they don’t have anything to prove,” he said. “When you get young kids, the energy is different. Here, it’s more about good times, competing hard — trying to win, but not like that chip on people’s shoulder that you get at professional events.”

Even as this year’s tournament wraps up Sunday, every competitor who spoke with The Garden Island expressed excitement over returning to Kaua’i for next year’s Dino.

“I’ll be coming back for years,” Vicknair said. “For as long as I can.”


Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-4966 or
Source: The Garden Island

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