Florida Gulf Coast University Adds Women's Sand Volleyball
ESTERO - Florida Gulf Coast University expanded its athletic reach Wednesday by adding one of the NCAA's newest sports - women's sand volleyball.
The sport - recognized this fall by the NCAA as an "emerging sport" - officially begins this spring. FGCU joins Stetson, North Florida, Mercer and Jacksonville as Atlantic Sun Conference competitors and 40 across the country in the sand arena.
The A-Sun announced last month became the first conference to declare sand volleyball a championship sport. The first A-Sun tournament will be April 20-22 at Jacksonville.
FGCU's sand and indoor volleyball teams will operate as a combined program led by Dave Nichols. The sand volleyball roster will have 12 players, and many of those spots are expected to be taken up by current indoor players.
"Sand volleyball continues to grow in popularity throughout the nation, in particular, on the high school level in the state of Florida and regionally," FGCU athletic director Ken Kavanagh said. "We look forward to this program not only growing on its own, but in its ability to enhance our recruitment efforts in indoor volleyball for those young ladies looking for a destination to play both. Overall, we envision our abilities for this sport to join the many others that we sponsor and already compete on a championship level"
FGCU will likely play this spring at Fort Myers Beach because of the availability of courts there.
"Sand volleyball and FGCU are the perfect fit," Nichols said. "With our location, weather and the improvement of junior sand volleyball in the area we have a chance to put together an outstanding program. Athletes around the country are already contacting us, as our name and visibility continue to grow. These are exciting times for FGCU volleyball."