Kyle Friend, left, and Tim Brewster are a beach pairs team and also boyfriends. | Courtesy of Tim Brewster

A professional men’s beach volleyball team that has been making impressive strides in the U.S. also happens to be a blossoming gay love story.

Kyle Friend and Tim Brewster started playing together on the AVP Tour in summer 2022 and within months, they were qualifying for Pro Series tournaments and improving their results.

Then in November of that year, when playing in Australia, Brewster told Friend he had feelings for him — and was quickly told they were reciprocated.

It’s a heartwarming romance that continues to this day and has now been shared publicly for the first time on Volleyball Mag and on a new episode of the long-running “Sandcast Podcast,” hosted by Olympian Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter (who swap seats during the conversation while another player, Savvy Simo, sits in throughout).

After chatting through their preseason results and a recent NORCECA win in the Dominican Republic, the conversation turns to what makes Brewster and Friend’s partnership unique in the men’s sport — the fact they’re boyfriends.

“We played together for six months before the off-the-court relationship started,” said Brewster, 24. He’s a UCLA graduate who represented Team USA at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires and is currently studying law at Loyola in his home city of Los Angeles while playing pro.

“We had those boundaries,” he added. “I think we know how to keep the two separate to a point, although obviously it’s impossible to keep them completely separate.”

It took a while for them to team up. Brewster had asked Friend repeatedly if they could play a tournament together before his request was finally granted two years ago. 

At first, Friend thought their differing styles and strengths wouldn’t make them compatible on court. Meanwhile, he was already out as gay (in 2021, he had mentioned his sexuality within an article for the official AVP website) and had the respect of the tour.

Originally from Boca Raton, he is now 35 and had played pro volleyball all over the world before switching to sand in 2016. He quickly found his groove and was named AVP Rookie of the Year in his first season.

“Kyle’s one of the most level-headed people,” says Brewster on the podcast. “It helped me out a lot when I started playing with him because I was not that.”

Friend’s easy-going nature and comfort within himself was certainly attractive to Brewster, who was coming into the sport from a more conservative Catholic background. “I was figuring me out at the same time,” Brewster said.

“Seeing an example of someone who is out and confident and able to do volleyball, I’d never been around that.

“To see somebody like that helped me through these internal struggles I was having. Obviously, I worked really hard and there was a lot of stuff I put in to make my volleyball really good but there’s also a mental component, whether it was confidence or being comfortable, it helped my volleyball click.

“It made a huge difference for me on and off the court.”

For Friend, it’s first a source of pride that he has been able to help unlock Brewster’s potential on court. Then there’s the fact they have grown so close emotionally.

“I think all I did was just be myself,” he says. “I sparked interesting conversations and shared stories about myself and was vulnerable.”

Having clicked, they chalked up a run of top-10 finishes, and then in 2023 there was a fifth place at the Miami Pro Series and a third in New Orleans.

They haven’t been able to maintain standards quite that high — they are currently ranked just outside the world’s top 100 — but the signs are good for a successful season ahead and a happy future, both as teammates and as boyfriends.

“The way I see it, there’s not a lot of trouble on my end,” says Friend, quoted by Volleyball Mag from the podcast.

“We’re living together and it feels very normal off court, it feels easy, normal, safe, great. Now on court, we’re learning to find ways to push each other more.

“Every emotion that occurs if you’re playing with someone new, you’re not seeing it all. I know exactly what he’s feeling.”

He adds: “Sometimes we’ll have a bad practice and we’ll carry it home. We’re back, it’s fine, that was volley, it’s not a big deal.”

Brewster lays out the plan for the year ahead on the podcast. “There’s not really that much international going on [this summer] because it’s around the Olympics.

“So we’ll play a little international now, get ready for AVP and post that, we’ll get back on the international, possibly on the Asia circuit.

“But our focus is, let’s kind of get our groove back on the AVP.”

They’re highly likely to learn they have a whole new set of fans cheering them on and following their story.

Don't forget to share: