Brian MorganAthletics Director, Media Relations(904) 620-4027
Athletics Director, Media Relations
The University of North Florida Athletic Department will be increasing to 19 sports following the announcement that sand volleyball will be added as a varsity program and begin competition in the spring of 2012. Sand volleyball joins women’s golf as new sports for UNF giving the department eight men’s and 11 women’s programs.
“We believe that sand volleyball is a perfect fit for our athletic department,” said UNF Director of Athletics Lee Moon. “Not only is the sport gaining attention nationally, but it also is a very popular activity already in the Jacksonville area. Our location and climate make for a great place to play sand volleyball. It will also provide another tremendous opportunity for young women to be involved in sports at the collegiate level.”
Women’s sand volleyball was recently recognized by NCAA Division I and II schools as an emerging sport for women, effective August 2011 for Division I programs. UNF joins a growing group of over 20 programs that have plans to add the sport including four other Atlantic Sun Conference schools – Stetson, FGCU, Mercer and Jacksonville – and national powers like Southern Cal, Pepperdine, Florida State and Notre Dame.
North Florida’s new sand volleyball team will be coached by the Osprey’s current women’s volleyball head coach Kevin Campbell with assistant coach Ryan Walthall serving as the sand assistant.
“I am extremely excited to have the chance to build a new program,” said Campbell. “With UNF being one of the first schools to add sand volleyball, we have a real opportunity to quickly become competitive at the regional and national levels. Over the past few years we have used sand volleyball as a training tool for the indoor squad during the spring so adding it as a varsity sport should be a smooth transition. I believe that sand volleyball will not only be a strong sport on its own but also help us continue to improve our indoor program.”
The format for intercollegiate volleyball play will be similar to college tennis doubles. A sand volleyball competition will consist of five doubles teams competing in a flighted dual or tournament competition. In a dual meet, the winner would be the team winning three of the five matches while tournament play would allow for each flight to name a winner with the team championship decided by which squad collects the most combined points of the five flights. The NCAA has set a maximum of 16 dates of competition for the sand volleyball season.
UNF’s inaugural sand volleyball squad will consist of a mixture of sand only players along with some “cross-over” players from the indoor team. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., product Emily Strack became the program’s first sand signee earlier this spring and Campbell plans to have campus tryouts for the sand team this fall while also utilizing some of the current indoor players to fill the roster.
“There is some similarity in indoor and sand play,” added Campbell. “However, most players have a passion for one style or the other. We will definitely give any of our interested indoor team members the opportunity to participate in sand play, but we are also committed to work hard to find and develop a group of strong sand players.”
The UNF sand volleyball team plans to compete and train on the courts at Jacksonville Beach.
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