Three beach volleyball enthusiasts and founders of the Long Island Volleyball Association have built an eight-court beach volleyball arena inside the former home of Sky Zone on Route 25a in Mount Sinai.
North Beach Long Island Volleyball is fitted with a tiki bar and grill and a beachy spectator lounge in what the owners say is be the largest indoor year-round facility of its kind in the entire United States.
The first spiked volleyballs spiked happened this month. North Beach held its grand opening on Monday.
Joe Strining is the kind of guy who sees an opportunity and seizes it. In 1998, he launched the Long Island Volleyball Association with 18 teams at Cedar Beach in Babylon. He then went to Jones Beach and looked at a former concrete skating rink and thought about the unused sand underneath so he convinced officials to tear it up and his league expanded to 120 teams.
By the time he got Robert Moses softball fields converted to volleyball courts, he had 500 teams, and the lights to run games at night.
Now, he has around 1,300 teams participating in the beach volleyball league annually.
But that wasn’t enough for Strining, who by then had already been joined by original league players Keith Burt and Valda Pinezic in running the Long Island Volleyball Association.
“They are my right and left hands,” he said recently in an interview with Greater Long Island inside his latest venture at 69 Route 25a.
Strining had been searching for years for an indoor facility to bring indoor beach volleyball to Long Island in a way befitting his vision. He wanted not only volleyball courts, but a place to put a tiki bar and lounge. He found it in Mount Sinai in the 27,500-square-foot building that used to hold Sky Zone. It was a carpe diem kind of moment.
“It’s really the perfect spot,” he said.
Michael Murphy, the Douglas Elliman real estate agent who leased the property to Strining, said people are excited about the prospect of beach volleyball coming to the North Shore.
“I know that all the locals I speak to love it,” said Murphy, who lives in East Setauket.
The building, originally built in 1980, sits on 2.7 acres, with plenty of parking for about 100 cars, 30-foot ceilings, and space for a licensed food service operation. Crews worked around the clock turning the premier space for beach volleyball indoors — with true Long Island sand and all.
“I took a bag of beach sand around to find the perfect match,” he explained.
The sand is, of course, a key component in beach volleyball. The North Shore of Long Island is not conducive to the game because of its rocky shore. (Strining said if you lay up for a ball and you get scratched up on the sand, that’s kind of a non-starter.)
“We’re basically bringing the beach to the North Shore,” he said, meaning the type of soft sand that you generally find on South Shore beaches. “We have the best sand in the world, no doubt.”
There is a beach themed panorama of mesh banners to adorn the walls and a spectator lounge with round picnic tables and a raised stage. Triangle sailcloths hang over the seating area.
There are live palm trees too. And Strining wants to have live bands and DJs.
Parent players who don’t want to leave their kids at home need not worry. They’re building an arcade section, so the kids can have a place to safely hang out.
By next spring, he hopes to have four outdoor beach courts completed, as well.
In the parking lot is a photo op on what Strining believes is the largest adirondack chair on Long Island. It’s 11 feet tall and six feet wide.
“We’re painting it ‘sunny days’ yellow,” he said.
Up front is the tiki bar and grill. Patrick Trovato, of Inferno The Restaurant fame in Sound Beach, and Kevin Cassidy, who owns The Finnbar Pub up the road in Mount Sinai, have teamed up to bring the food service portion to life.
The two came together on a whim, when they found out Strining was looking for someone to run the restaurant portion as a tiki theme. Cassidy approached Trovato about this new concept for both of them.
“He was gung ho,” said Cassidy.
The menu features gourmet pizza, hot panini, wraps and salads.
“We’ll be serving frozen drinks, custom cocktails and draft beer,” said Trovato, who also wants to do grab-and-go type drinks, as well like cold-press juices.
“It’s going to feel like a beach bar,” Strining said.
Both Trovato and Cassidy said that Strining also insisted that there be a mudslide machine.
As for volleyball, North Beach Long Island plans to run league play six days a week. There are 10-week sessions for leagues of six-and four-player teams. Game time slots are every hour from 6-9 p.m. Teams of six cost $700 to enter the league, and the teams are mandatory co-ed, meaning there must be at least two female players on every team. Teams of four are $600 per team.
On Saturdays, the facility hosts tournaments. There also be junior leagues and beach volleyball clinics at North Beach.
Strining said everything needed to play is supplied.
“All we need are the people,” he said.
Top photo: Inside of the newly opened indoor volleyball venue North Beach. (Credit: Facebook)