April Ross, Chase Budinger Headline AVP Gold Series Championships Chicago

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Labor Day weekend is coming up which means we say goodbye to summer (sort of), and thus many of us in Chicago will head to the beach one last time. We never need an excuse to go to the beach in the city by the lake, but this weekend we’ll have added motivation to get there as the AVP Gold Series Championships arrives comes to Oak Street Beach.

Chicago, interestingly enough has hosted more professional beach volleyball tournaments than any city not in California. The competition, which begins tomorrow and runs until Sunday, showcases the world’s top professional beach volleyball players with a postcard backdrop.

avp gold series championships

If you’ve been at Oak Street Beach the past few days and you’ve wondered what those bleachers they’ve been erecting are for, well now you have your answer. The AVP Gold Series will feature elite athletes at the top of their respective game juxtaposed against the John Hancock Center, the iconic Gold Coast skyline and the crashing waves of Lake Michigan.

Of the many athletes competing this holiday weekend, two really stand out from an individual brand awareness perspective (and for very different reasons):April Ross and Chase Budinger.

Costa Mesa, California native April Ross is a name that’s very familiar to anyone who has closely watched the last couple Summer Olympics. With 31 AVP titles, she’s the New England Patriots of women’s beach volleyball. Ross won a bronze medal in Rio 2016 (with Kerri Walsh-Jennings) and took home the silver (with Jen Kessy) in London 2012.

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She will be in action with her new partner, Alix Klineman, at The Championships in Chicago. This AVP Tour season, Ross and Klineman won both the Austin Open and Manhattan Beach Open. Ross, 36, also won the Gatorade National Player of the Year award as a senior in high school and also earned the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Player of the Year award in 1998 and 1999.

Another Californian (Encitas), Chase Budinger, is a former NBA player who has pivoted to professional beach volleyball.

The 6’7″ Budinger is currently in his debut season on the AVP tour. The 30-year-old partners with two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal. Budinger played for the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns over the course of his seven year NBA career.

In 2012, Budinger competed in the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest during NBA All-Star weekend, where he performed a dunk over P. Diddy and a blindfolded reverse dunk honoring former Slam Dunk Champion Cedric Ceballos.

However, the former Arizona Wildcats star, who won All-Pac 10 honors twice during his collegiate career finished runner-up to Jeremy Evans by just one percent of the voting.

Budinger and Rosenthal made it to the Finals at the 2018 AVP San Francisco Open and took second.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Sound Cloud and YouTube. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to any and all of his.

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