Monday, February 19, 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
Freestyle skier doesn’t even bother to try tricks in Olympic women’s halfpipe

Freestyle skier doesn’t even bother to try tricks in Olympic women’s halfpipe

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The words left Liz Swaney’s lips without an ounce of irony. No telling curl of the lips. No wink. Nothing. She meant them. All of them. "I didn’t qualify for finals so I’m really disappointed," the ...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

TAMPA — Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart says he’s ready to put his checkbook where his heart is when it comes to supporting a Tampa Bay Rays move to Ybor City.So is the investment fund for the founding family of Ashley Furniture. So, it ap...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Video: Swiss skier Fabian Bosch explains his viral escalator stunt

Video: Swiss skier Fabian Bosch explains his viral escalator stunt

Last week, a video went viral that showed Swiss freestyle skier Fabian Bosch dangling while hanging onto an escalator, arm outstretched, as a teammate rode alongside him."We had to wait until our apartment was ready, so we had to kill time, we got re...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Wardrobe issues cause Olympic stress for French skaters

Wardrobe issues cause Olympic stress for French skaters

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The first notes of Ed Sheeran’s "Shape of You" had just played when Gabriella Papadakis suddenly became aware that people were about to see a whole lot more of her shape than she had planned. The French ice dancer’s glitterin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Girls basketball: A look at Tuesday’s region games

Girls basketball: A look at Tuesday’s region games

All games at 7 p.m.Class 9AAlonso (22-2) at Orlando Oak Ridge (16-12)What to know: The Ravens must hit the road for the semifinals, and it could be a tough matchup. The Pioneers had no trouble in their district tournament and won the first region gam...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Video: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gives advice to Little Leaguers

Video: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gives advice to Little Leaguers

Ryan Fitzpatrick is an unrestricted free agent, and his future with the Bucs remains uncertain. But the veteran quarterback is still very much here in Tampa and still sharing his wisdom with younger athletes.In this case, they're much younger —...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Live from Port Charlotte: First full squad workout

Live from Port Charlotte: First full squad workout

The Rays held their first full squad workout today, though RF Steven Souza Jr., did not work out because of a family matter. He had already reported to camp.More fallout from Saturday's Jake Odorizzi trade and DFA'ing of Corey Dickerson. This time fr...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

TAMPA – The Lightning still might land that top tier defenseman it certainly needs by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. But if that player was wearing a Tampa Bay sweater Saturday, would the outcome against the Devils have been any different?The Ligh...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Boys basketball: Top seed Carrollwood Day dominant from start

CLEARWATER — Pressure, intensity and energy.In Saturday's Class 4A-4 district title game at Calvary Christian, Carrollwood Day's six-man rotation put the heat squarely and constantly on Tampa Prep. Playing up-tempo offense behind savvy poi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Reports and rumors involving the Lightning leading up to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 26:Feb. 17A smaller move could pay big dividendsIf you look at the history of recent Stanley Cup champions, their pivotal moves were subtle, not splashy, the Time...
Updated: 3 hours ago