By Chris Shaffer

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When beach volleyball was in its early stages, it was Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello that gave us our first taste in the 60s in movies like “Beach Blanket Bingo.”

To be clear, the name of the game is sand volleyball, and Frankie and Annette weren’t very good players.

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But Maverick and Goose from “Top Gun” broke Hollywood’s number-one rule, and everyone saw them sweat it out against Ice Man and Slider — and that took sand volleyball all the way to Coolsville.

And Coolsville, Minnesota is otherwise known as Ernie’s on Gull in Brainerd.

(credit: CBS)

“It was kind of a Gull Lake league, you know. It brings everybody together that works on the lake or lives on the lake,” said Ernie’s co-owner Chris Foy.

Chris and his brother Mike bought Ernie’s six years ago, and with that purchase came a property with a 100-year history — and a vibrant volleyball league.

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“When we took over it was just one night, now it’s two, next year we’re going to expand to three,” Foy said. “The demand’s there, people love it.”

With parking for 26 boats and indoor or patio seating, it’s easy to see why this place is so popular.

“This is an extraordinary place to play volleyball,” said player Jeremy Pape said. “I mean, what other place has a beautiful lake in the background for a perfect picture setting?”

But bring your A-game, because the level of play here is right up there with Tom Cruise and the boys in “Top Gun.”

Volleyball season at Ernie’s starts in early June and runs into September, with a banquet at the end of the year for all the players.

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And even if you’re not on a team, it’s just a fun and relaxing place to hang out, and they’re open year round.

Chris Shaffer