As a precocious all-round sports star as a youngster, Volleyroos squad member Casey Grice never could have predicted his ultimate calling would be in beach volleyball.
Growing up in Kalgoorlie, Grice naturally played most sports and excelled in basketball and Australian Rules football before fate intervened. “A school teacher who wanted to get back into beach volleyball got me into the sport when I was 16,” he said. “Having played other sports as a youngster really helped me quickly adapt to beach volleyball.”
Grice and Cole Durant are the defending men’s champions of the Alcohol. Think Again Beach Volleyball Tour – MRA WA Open, which was held over the weekend. The pair were in good form having been runners-up at the Australian Beach Volleyball Championships in the Gold Coast recently.
But at the Alcohol. Think Again Beach Volleyball Tour – MRA WA Open, Grice was partnered with Josh Slack to reflect the combinations competing for Australia’s Olympic qualifying berths. Slack competed at the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics, and came third at the FIVB World Championship in 2007.
Last year, Grice relocated to Adelaide to train with the national team in a determined bid to realise his dreams of making the Rio Olympics.
Grice has been on the cusp of Olympics selection in the past, albeit in another sport. Highlighting his innate all-round talent in sports, Grice competed in swimming trials to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “I competed in the 100m and 200m breaststroke events, so having been close before has fuelled that drive to be an Olympian,” he said. “The Olympics has always been a goal, and it would be amazing if it happened.”
The 25-year-old said the focus had been on keeping it simple and not getting caught up in the swirl of Olympics hysteria. “It is easy to think too much about the Olympics, because it only comes around every four years and is such a massive event,” he said. “But it is about keeping focus and just really training hard. There has been a jump in training, which has been intense since I moved to Adelaide. Simply, it is about getting myself to a good level and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”
Grice said he relished playing back in WA. “I made my name in the sport when I was a 17-year-old making the final of the WA Open, so it always brings back special memories,” he said. “It is always exciting to play in Scarborough, I absolutely love it there”.