All hail the Beard Bros of beach volleyball!
American brothers Riley and Maddison McKibbin are a hit beyond the playing arenas.
Beach volleyball players, YouTube video sensations, entrepreneurs, business partners, the Beard Bros – the descriptions for brothers Riley and Maddison McKibbin are many and varied.
The brothers have been playing together for long – at school, college, professionally overseas and on the beach as part of USA’s AVP (Association of Volley Professionals) Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.
In Doha, as part of the US 4×4 team at the ANOC World Beach Games, the brothers have had mixed luck so far, losing their group matches to Germany and Qatar before beating Indonesia to set up a quarterfinal clash against Mozambique.
The brothers, who grew up on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, have come a long way, together. So how has the experience been, one wondered aloud.
“You want to know? How much time you got? It’s going to take a long, long time to explain,” came the instant reply from 28-year-old Maddison.
Turning more serious, Maddison said he would have given up on the game a long ago had it not been for 31-year-old Riley.
“A few years back, my career was down in the dumps, and I seriously contemplated retirement to pursue higher studies. Riley, who was playing indoor volleyball with Italian side Altotevere Volley San Giustino, forced me to join him. That changed things for me. I owe my career to him,” he said.
Right on cue, Riley chipped in by saying “You’re welcome,” and gave his brother a high-five.
The brothers, who played for their Punahou High School in Honolulu, turned out for the United States at the 2006 FIVB Beach Volleyball Junior World Championships in Bermuda. They went on to represent the University of Southern California before playing professionally indoors in Italy.
The brothers began competing on the AVP Tour in 2015 and has been playing there ever since.
Despite growing up playing volleyball on the beach, the transition proved to be very hard for the duo.
“The move from hard court to shifty sands was incredibly tough, and five years later, we’re still working on it. It’s one thing to play on the beach for fun, and it’s quite another to compete professionally on it,” Riley told Inside Qatar.
This transition period was also the time when their hugely popular YouTube channel – The McKibbin Brothers – took shape.
“We wanted to learn more about professional beach volleyball and searched for tutorial videos on YouTube. There were very few, and the ones available were terrible. Fast forward to 2018 and the situation was the same. It got us thinking, why can’t we do it? The idea was born,” Maddison said.
And more than 110 videos and 5.5 million views later, the brothers seem to be enjoying the new-found fame.
“Our first YouTube video was also our first-ever attempt at making one. Now we’ve better equipment, more viewers and we’ve also travelled the world with it. We enjoy the process of sharing our thoughts with others,” he added.
A quick watch of their YouTube channel will show the game has taken them to some exotic playing locations around the globe. One that catches the eye is their trip to Kronplatz, Italy, for a stop of the FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour Event. After having won a gold medal there, the brothers said they had just one thing left on their bucket list.
“The games in Kronplatz were memorable because it was our first time playing on snow. The only thing left for us to do now is to play a competitive match on water. Such a game was hosted on Slovenia’s Ljubljana River earlier this year. We’ll try to play there next year, and then our bucket list will be complete for the time being,” said Maddison.
So how and why did the Beard Bros begin to grow their trademark facial hair? The reply was not very fast in coming.
“We had a coach at the University of Southern California who insisted we should be clean-shaven to be a part of his team. When we moved to Italy, both of us decided to start growing our beards. We found no reason to cut it and now, it’s become our identity, and we’re the Beard Bros,” Riley said.