By Andrea McCullagh
Stefie Fejes and Jesse Mann are the ones to watch in Women’s AAA this year. The best friends are only in their mid-teens but they are already champions in both indoor and beach volleyball. Winning the NBVA’s top prize is in their sights and they are determined to realise that goal soon.
“Last year Michaela and Lucia were the top team and we got pretty close,” Stefie says.
“This is the year. This is the season.”
Stefie (15) and Jesse (16) are students at Mackellar Girls in Manly Vale and they combine a tough training schedule with their studies. They train on the beach six days a week and pack in another three gym sessions to improve their strength and conditioning. During the indoor season they also have extra training sessions and games.
The friends find that all the training helps with their school work as it forces them to be both organised and focused.
“With routine you get a structure and then you can plan around that,” Jesse says.
The girls grew up around the sport on Manly Beach. They first trained with Dieter Rohkamper and then moved into the NBVA Junior Development Program run by coaching and development head Roger Jones and assisted by Sam Halley.
To date they have won the U19 and U16 nationals and placed third at the U21 nationals for beach volleyball. Stefie has also represented Australia in beach volleyball and played with Queensland’s Jasmine Fleming at the 2020 Senior Asian Championships. Both Stefie and Jesse play for Australia and NSW for indoor volleyball, and won the nationals last year.
Competing for Australia at the Olympics in beach volleyball is their ultimate goal. With such an ambitious target, how are they working towards it?
“By thinking micro,” Jesse says.
“I set small goals to reach and they are leading up to the bigger picture. If you have small goals it makes it less overwhelming.”
Stefie and Jesse’s favourite team are the Beachvolley Vikings: Anders Mol and Christian Sorum. Their other favourite players are Laura Ludwig, Taliqua Clancy, Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Adrian Carambula.
They love beach volleyball because of the welcoming atmosphere and international possibilities.
“It’s like a different language,” Stefie says.
“It’s a world-renowned sport and it can take you anywhere. You don’t have one set path, you have so many different paths.
“There’s so many different skills you can learn and you can never get bored.”
Stefie and Jesse thanked all their coaches on Manly Beach for their training and support.