While the on-campus beach volleyball team (17-7) continues their quest for a championship this season, assistant coach Betsi Flint is working towards participating in next summer’s 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo for beach volleyball.
Flint grew up in South Dakota, where she played basketball before falling in love with volleyball. She went on to play volleyball at Desert Vista High School in Arizona and then found herself at LMU for her college career, playing both indoor and beach volleyball.
At LMU, she would graduate as she graduated LMU as the school’s all-time leader in total digs and aces in indoor volleyball. For beach volleyball, a sport that did not exist at LMU during her freshman year, Flint played three seasons for the Lions, twice becoming an American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American selection.
Following her standout career with the Lions, she was approached by former indoor and beach volleyball head coach Tom Black and current beach volleyball head coach John Mayer to be a part of the coaching staff at LMU. They wanted to keep her with the program for longer than her playing eligibility would allow. Wanting to stay connected with the University, she joined the staff as an assistant coach for the beach volleyball team, where she has been for the past four years.
Flint has also been a professional beach volleyball player since finishing her college playing career in 2015. She started her career with the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) when she and her partner Kelley Larsen notably became the youngest team to win an AVP tournament in September 2015. She also was the recipient of the 2015 AVP Newcomer of the Year award. Flint credited her experiences and lessons learned at LMU for her success at the professional level.
“Being at LMU really prepared me to play at the professional level,” said Flint. “The way we talk about the mental game and ... the team part of the game, we’re not just focusing on [physical] skills. We’re focusing on mental skills as well.”
Her focus, along with coaching the LMU beach volleyball team this season, is to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. She has practiced regularly with with Lion alumna Emily Day ('15) for the past two years. The two aim to be one of the two American duo representatives to make it to the Olympics. Should Flint and Day qualify for the Olympics, they would become the first Lions to represent the United States for beach volleyball.
In getting so close to reaching her Olympic dreams, Flint finds inspiration from her father, who she plays each match for. Flint also receives encouragement from Coach Mayer, who she credits for making her the player she is today.
“Coach John Mayer has been an inspiration to me, as a coach and as a friend,” said Flint. “He’s always giving me great advice and he’s been giving me confidence to be the best player I can be.”
“We played in a number of qualifying events this summer. We’re doing well in the Olympic rankings, but it’s a long game,” said Flint. “It’s your 12 best finishes and right now we’re in the top 25 in the world, but we have a ton of USA teams as well ... There’s a lot of really good teams and we only get to send two teams to the Olympics.”
Flint’s drive to compete at the highest level, in addition to balancing her coaching career at LMU, has been an inspiration for the team. Head coach John Mayer noted the impact Flint’s work ethic has had on the team.
“She’s a really good role model. She’s committed to learning, to getting better, with all things in her life,” said Mayer. “She’s always focused, she’s always working hard, she’s always eating right, she does all the little things really well. It’s really infectious.”
Mayer also saw the value that Flint brings in, being a professional, potentially Olympic-level player on the Lions’ coaching staff. Her high level of play comes with her strong passion for the game, which has been reflected in her coaching, in addition to her professional play.
“She’s a really good teacher. She knows the game at a really high level and she’s really passionate about seeing people grow and making people better,” said Mayer. “She’s relentless in her feedback in practice. If she sees a way to make someone better, she’s going to stay on them and continue to push them to get better at a fundamental.”
Flint and Day currently have 2,180 points accumulated in the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), placing them second in the women’s rankings in qualification for the 2020 Olympics, according to the FIVB’s official website. With much time left between now and the Olympics, Flint’s love for volleyball is her driving force in her goal of making history.
“I love to compete. I love volleyball,” Flint said.