Beach Volleyball Life With Jackie Signor

The Record for the Oldest AAA CBVA Rated Beach Volleyball Player Goes To...

Left to right: Kathy King, Sarah Castro, Debra Robertson, Jackie Signor

Left to right: Kathy King, Sarah Castro, Debra Robertson, Jackie Signor

Today I get the opportunity to interview Jackie Signor, a bright and vivacious woman that many people in the bay area have had the pleasure of playing volleyball with . She also happens to hold the record of being the oldest person to hold an AAA CBVA rating, ever. At 58 Jacqui received her latest AAA rating. She is now 61 and currently holds an AA rating but continues to play strong and may compete for an AAA again in the future.

Jackie: I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, and was very sporty; actually played a lot of tennis early on. In high school I had a coach that was very into volleyball and taught us a lot of basic skills. So my base knowledge in high school was good, which was rare in those days; 1972.
And then I played a lot of tennis in junior college and got a tennis scholarship to the University of Maryland. I got tired of tennis after all the years and played indoor volleyball at the university in 1976. A guy who was a friend of the team had played beach volleyball, so he introduced me to the sport. We played down in Virginia Beach; there were a lot of tournaments there. And then grass tournaments got to be big so I played a lot of grass tournaments. But I also continued to play sand.
In 1978, he moved to California and so did I. We moved out to San Francisco in the heart of the city and we’d come down to Santa Cruz all the time to play and made friends down here and played in tournaments. As time went by, he moved to LA and I stayed here and continued to play through all my wonderful friendships and have been playing ever since.

According to Mark Hull, Director of CBVA in Santa Cruz, she’s been playing in tournaments as long as he remembers being in Santa Cruz. “She is such a super positive, intense competitor with the right attitude. She exemplifies the beach culture,” says Hull. “She’s still out there playing hard and super determined.”

Jackie: I played a lot in Santa Cruz. We’d go down and play tournaments in San Diego and Pismo and LA, those kinds of places as well. But all the people I played with are no longer playing, so I continue to play with people who are younger. It’s been wonderful to see the whole progression. But all those people I use to play with have stayed my friends. We do all kinds of things together but are all connected through volleyball. Some of the girls I play volleyball with have been going on excursions for 15 years together now. It’s really a tremendous group of women.

Jackie is a role model to so many young players in the whole of California. She’s been encouraged to see an explosion of women’s volleyball in juniors, especially now that there are sand volleyball scholarships offered.

"Enjoy the sport, enjoy your partner and appreciate that you can do something you enjoy."

Jackie: For young girls, it’s important to enjoy the sport and to be positive and keep your partner happy. Everyone should be able to enjoy themselves and play the best they can play. And having a partner that doesn’t instill that is just not good. My happy attitude makes a big difference in other areas of my life as well. Enjoy the sport, enjoy your partner and appreciate that you can do something you enjoy. Be glad that your body is fit enough to play, that you’re in a beautiful environment and just take it all in whenever you play. Be thankful.

Jackie hopes to see as many young men rising up to play as there are women. Many of these girls sign up for tournaments for the whole year right at the beginning of seasons. For the older crowd starting volleyball later in life, she gives some wisdom as well:

Jackie: Most people, especially men coming into the sport when they’re older, have played a lot of other sports and gain a level of confidence pretty quickly. And women who are athletic, it’s no different. But volleyball is a tremendous amount of fun even if you’re not that good. Just going out and playing, even if it’s picnic volleyball (a group of people on either side), is great fun. You can enjoy it at any level. It’s not necessarily a matter of being fit. Although, when you play with two people on either side, you do need a certain level of confidence and certain level of fitness. And that can be achieved by playing regularly.

Hull states, “Jackie is always consistently competing. Every year I look forward to our hug at the beginning of the summer like we made it to another year of playing. She stays in shape and stays active.

Jackie: As far as anything else goes, I’m just incredibly fortunate to stay injury free. I’ve had a couple things in the past like splitting my knee open, but no joint injuries or anything that I’ve had to do surgically, which has ruined a lot of people’s volleyball careers. I do a lot of other things as well that help me stay fit: I ride my bike and take regular exercise classes. It’s important to have your fitness because it’s good for your joints. And when you’re not fit and trying to come out to do the best you can do, something is going to hurt.

Jackie finishes the interview with these words of inspiration:

Jackie: What i’ve enjoyed most about volleyball over tennis is that anyone from any status can come out and play. If you’re good, people will want to play no matter where you came from. If you live in a mansion or if you live under a bridge, if you’re good, people want to play with you. You don’t need coaching or to be involved in a club. You don’t even really need a ball. It brings in such good friendships because you meet all kinds of people. There are all different types of social statuses. And it brings old and young together too.

Jackie was recently filmed playing volleyball in a commercial for Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council with other local volleyball players that is scheduled to air early 2016. DigSantaCruz will keep you posted.

Jackie Signor participating in Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council commercial shoot.