Thursday, September 20, 2018
Sports

University of Tampa latest college to add beach volleyball

TAMPA — The University of Tampa has added a new women's varsity NCAA sport for next spring — beach volleyball — and coaches already are predicting that it will draw a loyal and spirited following.

UT will build a stadium court (adding to two existing sand courts) adjacent to the school's Fitness and Recreation Center, which gets plenty of foot traffic as students walk from the parking garages to the center of campus.

"I've been joking with our other coaches that this has a chance to be the best-attended sport at UT," said Jeff Lamm, an assistant with Chris Catanach's nationally acclaimed indoor volleyball program, who was named to the full-time beach volleyball head-coaching position.

"Think about it. We'll be playing music with a DJ. That's part of this sport. You're hearing the music and it's a nice day. You're walking by, so wouldn't you check it out? It's a cool atmosphere and really a perfect setting for a college campus."

Beach volleyball, best known for its professional tours and status as an Olympic sport since 1996, is the fastest-growing NCAA sport with 54 programs operating at the start of the 2016-17 school year. The programs — from Division I to Division II to Division III — compete for one national championship.

Lamm said he's hopeful that an exclusive Division II championship will be formed, but that classification's membership must grow to 40 to make that happen. For now, the Spartans would like to help form a conference. Among the familiar Sunshine State Conference opponents, Eckerd already has beach volleyball, Florida Southern is adding a program in 2017-18 and Saint Leo is studying the possibility.

Regionally, UT could schedule the likes of Florida State (last season's national runnerup), along with Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida International, Jacksonville, Stetson and North Florida, all of whom offer beach volleyball.

The Spartans are expected to have a roster of 16 to 18 players, who will comprise the five doubles teams needed for a match. Some of the players might transition from the indoor volleyball team, but that's not the ultimate goal.

According to NCAA data, 60 percent of the nation's beach volleyball players do not participate in indoor volleyball.

"We're primarily recruiting beach-only players, but we'll certainly have some indoor players who want to play beach," Lamm said. "Moving forward, there will always be the ability for the indoor players to play beach, but it will probably be on a tryout basis because we think we're going to attract some really good beach-only players."

Lamm, who has worked on Catanach's staff for 15 years, grew up in Sarasota and played beach volleyball on the Jose Cuervo and Bud Light tours. When a full-time position was offered to lead the new program at UT, Lamm jumped at the opportunity.

Beach volleyball has a ball, a net and three allowed contacts before it must cross the net for the other team's possession. Still, "it's a different kind of game and it brings in a different kind of athlete," Lamm said.

Indoor volleyball has six players to a side. It relies heavily on communication and teamwork as defensive-minded players dig out opponent's shots, then seek to set it to the front-liners for scoring spikes.

It's the same principles in beach volleyball, but with only two players. Like indoor, there are systems and strategy employed. With music blaring and the action non-stop, it's low-key and hyper-competitive at the same time.

"When most people think of outdoor volleyball, they visualize a picnic with six or so people playing on one side," Lamm said. "Beach volleyball is something much different. It's incredibly exciting. You're dealing with the wind, the sun, the heat. It's challenging."

Catanach initially opposed the addition of beach volleyball, thinking the coaching and budgetary responsibilities would fall to him, taking away from the school's elite indoor program.

Once Catanach realized UT president Ronald Vaughn and athletic director Larry Marfise were committed to making it a strong, free-standing program, he was all in.

"I think beach volleyball will be embraced on our campus," Catanach said. "There's already a buzz about it. We're already getting e-mails at a pretty good clip from kids who are interested in playing.

"The thing I liked the most is the decision (to add beach volleyball) was largely based on the feeling that it will really enhance campus life. There's a lot of cooperation and sharing that will need to be done initially. But I think the upside of it all is tremendous. It's an exciting thing to think about and look forward to. President Vaughn's philosophy isn't just adding a sport to do it. We're going to make it first-class and the best it can be."

 
Comments
Are these guys threatening to turn AL wild card into a race? Just ask the Rays

Are these guys threatening to turn AL wild card into a race? Just ask the Rays

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays still have got a long way to go and a short time to get there if they're gonna do what they say can't be done.If the Smokey and the Bandit paraphrase doesn't work for you, then let's try another theatrical reference....
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

The Lightning did not fare much better in its second preseason crack at the Hurricanes.In fact, it did worse.It lost 6-1 Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C.Carolina put a much more veteran team on the ice than it did Tuesday in winning Tampa Bay's preseason o...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Just when you thought it was fun to be a Bucs fan again. Just when you were blissfully under the spell of FitzMagic. Just when the Bucs were becoming the cool kids in the NFL with the latest greatest show on turf.Just as the good times have arrived, ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Buccaneers-Eagles All-22: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic could be real

Buccaneers-Eagles All-22: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic could be real

It’s just a mirage.At any moment now, Ryan Fitzpatrick will come crashing back to Earth. He’ll go back to being the Fitzpatrick of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Quarterbacks don’t t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Rangers game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Rangers game

OF Tommy Pham is playing with a sore groin and a sorer right ring finger, but he is determined, in his words, to "salvage" his season, and his two home runs Wednesday give him 19 total, five in 28 games with the Rays since the trade to go with a .327...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Thursday, September 20

TODAYBaseballRays at Blue Jays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMRed Sox at Yankees7 p.m.MLBReds at Marlins7 p.m.FSFCollege footballTulsa at Temple7:30 p.m.ESPNCollege soccerWomen: Texas A&M at Arkansas7 p.m.SECGolfPGA Europe: Portugal Masters6:30 a.m.GolfWeb.com:...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays journal: Austin Meadows among final wave of callups

Rays journal: Austin Meadows among final wave of callups

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays will get their first look at OF Austin Meadows when he joins them Thursday in Toronto as part of the final wave of callups.And based on what RHP Tyler Glasnow, a former Pirates and now Rays teammate, said, they're go...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Second-round pick Gabriel Fortier among Lightning’s early cuts

Second-round pick Gabriel Fortier among Lightning’s early cuts

One round of cuts down, several more to go.The Lightning cut seven players on Wednesday, five of whom were training camp invitees, the team announced. All seven players were assigned to juniors.Gabriel Fortier was the most notable cut. The Lightning'...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Oh, baby! It’s Rays rookie dress up day

Oh, baby! It’s Rays rookie dress up day

Today was rookie dress-up day for the Rays, a long-standing, and recently by rule toned down, tradition among teams to embarrass their first-timers.Masterminded by veteran reliever Sergio Romo the Rays went with a fitting theme for the rookie-laden t...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays keep pressure on, beat Rangers 9-3 for fifth straight win

Rays keep pressure on, beat Rangers 9-3 for fifth straight win

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rays still have a long way to go, and they are going to need a lot of help to get there.But they continue to do their part to try to make it a race for the final American League playoff spot, beating the Rangers 9-3 Wedne...
Updated: 11 hours ago