Beach volleyball: UVA installs two new courts near Lawn
Been by UVA's Snyder Tennis Center lately? There are two new courts in the making, but they aren't tennis courts. They're volleyball courts, of the sand variety. And the coach of the women's volleyball team thinks they'll propel his program to new heights–- even when his ladies aren't leaping for a spike.
"We're big proponents of sand volleyball because of all the positive effects it will have on indoor athletes," says Head Coach Lee Maes. "It gives the varsity team a chance to cross-train."
But there's another reason for the courts, located along busy University Avenue: visibility. UVA's been fielding a team in the Olympic sport of indoor volleyball since 1979, but Coach Maes says that not everybody seems to know that.
So last spring, this coach, who was hired in 2008, received a marketing report from some students in UVA's undergraduate business school. A hitherto underutilized corner of Nameless Field was chosen, and after some "generous donations" including $40,000 just for the sand (a blend called "the Fort Myers mix"), the courts should be ready for play by this weekend, says Coach Maes. He says that lighting, audio, a scoreboard, and even an outdoor shower will be installed during the coming weeks.
"We want the community–- the students and faculty–- to use it," says Coach Maes. "If you build it, they will come." Meanwhile, his team, which suffered a losing season last year, has started the fall season with a bang by winning all three of its season-opening games–- with three more slated for this weekend in Charlottesville. All home games are played in nearby Memorial Gym on Emmet Street, the historic mid-20th century headquarters of the men's basketball team.
Left unsaid (and unasked) is what the UVA players will wear while frolicking in the sand within sight of cars and pedestrians. ESPN reports that the lithe figures and bikinis worn by female beach volleyball players have made the sport one of Olympic television's most popular spectacles. The UVA coach seems more interested in filling up Mem Gym, which has a capacity just under 1,000.
"Our goal," says Coach Maes, "is to sell out every volleyball match, and that starts with awareness."
–12:04pm update: story clarified to show that UVA fields an indoor volleyball team