Jeremy Casebeer is one of the strongest servers on the AVP pro beach volleyball tour.
Back in 2019, Casebeer served up the idea that the AVP would benefit from a substantive, comprehensive greening campaign. Fast-forward three years, and despite a slowdown thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, he is helping the tour launch and grow its Climate Action Plan (CAP).
GreenSportsBlog spoke with Jeremy, an EcoAthletes Champion about his Green-Sports journey, as well as his work on behalf of the AVP Tour.
GreenSportsBlog: Jeremy, let’s talk about how you found volleyball when you were a youngster…
Jeremy Casebeer: I grew up playing sports like basketball and soccer in Santa Barbara, California. But I wasn’t very good at the former and too tall and slow for the latter. My dad played volleyball at UC Santa Barbara, so I got exposed to it from him. I got to stop running miles every day with soccer and got to hang out with my friends at the beach playing. Also, it turned out being tall and lanky is helpful for volleyball.
GSB: Why did you gravitate to beach volleyball rather than the indoor game?
Jeremy: I was always better at beach and enjoyed it more than indoor. I played both in high school, and indoor at UCLA for four years until I graduated in 2012. Now, beach volleyball is 2-on-2 versus 6-on-6 indoor. With beach you also must adjust to the sand and the wind, so there’s more variables. Beach also requires more all-around skills to pass and set. Kind of like tennis on clay versus grass.
After two knee surgeries playing indoor and landing on hard courts, I was very happy to play beach full time and give my body a break.
Jeremy Casebeer (Photo credit: Hana Asano)
GSB: After UCLA, did you go pro in beach?
Jeremy: Actually, I started playing professionally in indoor in Puerto Rico, but it was a messed-up situation down there contract-wise so I left after about a month.
But then I met a beach player who needed a teammate to play in Australia and New Zealand. It was an amazing experience living in Manly Beach in Sydney and traveling all over both countries to compete and then on to Bali, Thailand, Turkey, and Israel. I was hooked!
I came back to the U.S. the next summer and never looked back, I wanted to play beach professionally full time.
GSB: That sounds fun and exhausting…
Jeremy: …It was both. I ended up doing the same thing for four more years, but this time going back and forth between California and Brazil. The Brazilian Tour is the exact opposite schedule from the AVP in the US. So, I was able to train and compete at a high-level year-round and loved being able to spend time in Rio. Nothing better than training at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world in the morning, grabbing an acai, and being able to hike in the rain forest in the afternoon.
GSB: What are some of your career highlights? What are you known for on tour?
Jeremy: My number one highlight was winning the 2019 AVP event in Seattle, which helped me finish third overall that year, building on my fourth-place finish in 2018. I’m known for my jump serve; I think I’ve won Best Server on the AVP three times.
GSB: And at 33 you’re in the midst of your prime. I understand that you’re not playing year-round anymore. What are you up to during the AVP offseason?
Jeremy: Back in 2019, I started working as a volunteer assistant coach with UCLA’s women’s beach volleyball team under head coach Stein Metzger, a friend and mentor of mine. COVID-19 cut our season short — one day we’re playing at USC with no fans; the next day, everything was canceled. But I learned so much: the team was great, hard-working, and really loved the game.
While I really enjoyed coaching at UCLA but wanted to focus on my competing and working to use my platform as an athlete to scale environmental impact.
I’m fascinated by the intersection of sports, the environment and business and went back to school at UCLA to start a Certificate of Sustainability.
GSB: You beat me to it! I was going to ask you about your interest in the environment, climate change in particular. When did your interest in the environment begin?
Jeremy: I loved the outdoors from when I was a kid, especially our family camping trips to the Sierras. But what really got me into it was my Environmental Science teacher in high school, Jose Caballero. He had an incredible ability to explain climate change in an engaging and approachable way.
He took us to Santa Cruz Island where we built greenhouses to plant endemic species. It opened my eyes to what California looked like before it was developed, and what we have to protect. This field trip led me to study environmental science at UCLA.
GSB: What was that like?
Jeremy: Oh, it was an awesome opportunity to learn from fantastic professors about subjects like urban planning, climate science and sustainable development.
And as I got more into my beach volleyball career, the more I got interested in using my platform to talk about climate change and explore ways I can work in sport to take action and share solutions.
GSB: How have you gone about doing that?
Jeremy: I looked at everyone I interact with in sport as an athlete like fans, other players, my sponsors, nonprofits, and the AVP Tour.
I began posting more on social media and sharing with my friends on tour what I was learning and the climate solutions that already exist. I learned a lot from Project Drawdown.
A few years ago, I began focusing my sponsorships on brands that share my values and have certifications like B Corp, 1% for the Planet and Climate Neutral.
I became an ambassador for Parley for the Oceans that’s done really strong work around ocean plastic, and Forest Stewardship Council working to protect our forests. I realized a lot of nonprofits don’t have budgets to market their work or partner with athletes or celebrities. I really enjoy getting to work on issues I care about and support people already doing strong work.
What’s been really exciting is working with the AVP Tour and WM, formerly Waste Management, on the first sustainability plan in pro volleyball.
Jeremy Casebeer skies to hit his jump serve (Photo credit: Bryan Malloch)
GSB: I think that’s a great start to combining sport and sustainability. Can you tell me more about the AVP’s Climate Action Plan, which you played a key role in developing.
Jeremy: First, kudos to the AVP. Their management and operations team has been great. They see the need for the tour to take climate action, and the opportunities that driving deeper engagement with fans, sponsors and AVP athletes offers.
GSB: How did you go about that?
Jeremy: A key step was being introduced at the end of 2020 to Lee Spivak, head of sustainability at Waste Management by Dr. Maddy Orr of Sport Ecology Group. Lee and his team at WM work with a lot of major sports leagues and venues to develop comprehensive sustainability plans, so it was a perfect fit. They manage sustainability at the WM Phoenix Open. The Phoenix Open is every golf fan’s favorite tournament and also the largest Zero Waste Event on the planet. I want to bring that to beach volleyball.
We started working with WM in 2021, which was a shortened, three-event season due to COVID. They collected a ton of data and created a baseline for the AVP across waste, water, and carbon to give us a break down of our impacts.
GSB: What programs came from the initial report and data? What are the AVP and WM focused on?
Jeremy: We are working with WM to maximize reductions on waste, water, and carbon at the Manhattan Beach Open which our biggest tournament of the year, and work to scale it to future events. But reductions are only part of the equation. Engaging our stakeholders by making the sustainability plan visible to fans and other sponsors at the beach is very important.
GSB: What will fans see on site at the Manhattan Beach Open?
Jeremy: They’ll see comprehensive recycling and composting. Solar-powered generators will be visible to fans. There will also be fan-focused activations, including “Recycle Right” sorting competitions between me and fans at center court and “Touch A Truck”, which will allow fans to see how recycling works.
I also brought in my good friends Maddison and Riley Mckibbin to create engaging content highlighting what we’re doing at Manhattan Beach to help fans make small but meaningful changes in their own lives. They built their YouTube from nothing up to 100,000+ subscribers and have one of the largest platforms in volleyball so it’s an exciting opportunity to reach the global volleyball audience.
GSB: You’re saying “we” a lot. Are you working on the Waste Management partnership? You’re still playing!
Jeremy: I’m the program manager for the AVP’s Climate Action Plan…and I’m also still playing. Combining competing as an athlete with working on the ops, partnerships, and sustainability is where I love to be! I’m busy for sure, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I geek out on how athletes can use their platforms and partner with organizations doing great work. One partnership I’m fired up on is planting 10 trees for every ace I serve through One Tree Planted and Players for the Planet. I expect to serve over 100 aces this season when all is said and done.
On the program manager side, I’m learning event management, operations, partnerships so it’s been an amazing growth experience to It might seem counterintuitive but playing and program managing keeps my creative juices flowing and prevents burnout.
GSB: That is amazing! Good luck on and off the court in Manhattan Beach.