In January 2015, the NCAA approved the first DIII beach volleyball program in the country at Stevenson University. The current women’s indoor team is committed to playing on the sand for the first year of this program. Formerly known as sand volleyball, the name change occurred when the NCAA adopted the sport.
The team’s first game is March 13 against Carson Newman at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. There are 10 more matches on the current schedule. The team will travel to Florida and North Carolina before their first home match in April.
More than a hundred trucks of sand are being sent from New Jersey to finish the courts on Owings Mills campus in approximately five weeks. In the meantime, practices are being held indoors, with the net raised to 7 feet, 4 1/8 inches and with a regulation beach volleyball to adapt to beach conditions. On Fridays, the team travels to indoor beach volleyball courts in Sterling, Virginia, according to coach Dave Trumbo, who also coaches the women’s indoor team at Stevenson.
The team is comprised of five pairs of players. The first pair to win three of five matches will be the winner. “This fastest growing sport in the NCAA and will attract a variety of athletes to the university,” according to Brett Adams, athletic director at Stevenson. Over 50 colleges and universities sponsor the sport, according to the official NCAA website.
As for recruiting, Trumbo and his coaching staff are looking for players from across the country. This program is recruiting athletic players with beach experience who might also help improve the indoor team.
Trumbo said, “Our goal is to play a national championship for indoor volleyball. Beach will help us do that, by attracting different types of athletes and improving the skills of our current indoor players.”
Trumbo is hopeful about current players’ skills improving when it comes to reading the game, strengthening their jumping abilities, and becoming more versatile players.
Trumbo’s main concerns are clear: “We want to teach our current players how to play beach and have fun. As far as winning and losing, we’re looking to improve. We know it will be a challenge playing teams in Florida, but this will be a year where we see the end is going to be completely different from what we had in the beginning. They are already adapting — they’re volleyball players.”
As mentally and physically demanding as this sport can be, Trumbo said he has faith in his players to adapt to a player-driven sport in which athletes determine their strategy and constantly encourage their teammates.