SIESTA KEY BEACH — After the Gators first and third place finishes in Saturday’s Fiesta on Siesta Key Collegiate Volleyball Tournament, it might be wise for Florida director of athletics Jeremy Foley to add the sport to UF if he wants to bring some more NCAA championships to Gainesville.
The NCAA voted to make women’s sand volleyball (beach volleyball connotes an advantage to schools in coastal states) an emerging sport to begin play in the 2010-2011 school year.
However, NCAA politics delayed the start date until the 2011-2012 season. Despite the extra time, the Gators currently have no concrete plan in place for the creation of a sand volleyball team in time for the season.
“That would be nice to see, wouldn’t it?” said UF volunteer Jay Krick, who was the acting head coach at the Siesta Key tournament. “But unfortunately that’s not my call.”
Krick was impressed by the Gator fans’ turn-out at the tournament and believed it added to the argument for a UF team
“The participation, not only for the girls that came to play but the amount of people that came to watch it, really shows a demand for this type of thing, and it’s looking good for years to come,” Krick said.
One of the main reasons for the NCAA’s decision to make sand volleyball a sport was to increase the amount of scholarships for female athletes. Most schools however, including Florida many believe, would also use the sand volleyball season to train their indoor volleyball athletes year-round.
Some University of Florida volleyball players though, talked like they wouldn’t mind pulling double duty.
“The beach game helps a lot with indoor, just because of ball control,” said Elissa Hausmann, a Univ of Fla volleyball player going into her final season. “You have to control where every contact goes because there’s only one other player so you can’t shank a ball and then (expect) one of the five other people to go get it.”
With the beginning of the 2011 season only a summer away, odds are there will be no beach volleyball at the University of Florida immediately. But with a Florida volleyball program so strong and a state full of talent to pull from, don’t expect it to be that way for long.