This is the final installment of a three-part series by guest blogger, Mark Nalevanko, Director of the Carolina Region/USA Beach Volleyball.
In my series, I ‘ve talked about where beach volleyball in NC began and its current state. Now, I would like everyone to open their minds and consider the possibilities that lie ahead. Let’s start by looking ahead just one year…. 2014. What can one expect?
At the collegiate level, sand volleyball will be contested by nearly 40 schools. With that achievement, one can expect by 2016, after two successive years where at least 40 schools participate, the sport will officially be recognized as an NCAA championship sport just like football, basketball, etc.. By that time, many more schools will feel comfortable about jumping on board. I would not be surprised to see many, if not most, of the ACC schools participating.
What about at the junior level? Participation will continue to skyrocket in large part spurred by the new scholarship opportunities in college, not to mention that more facilities are being built every year to support! USA Volleyball will continue to develop its national junior beach tour and High Performance program with more events across the country. Carolina Region/USA Volleyball will continue to hold a tour of events across the state.
While plans for 2014 are still in the works for the region tour, it’s a good possibility we’ll see the establishment of a handful of majors as part of the tour, along with several sub-series that are geographically focused. Beach-focused clubs and indoor clubs with beach components will continue to pop up in NC, such as the newly formed Southern Sand Volleyball which will be based at a projected 10 sand court facility in Apex, just outside of Raleigh. The North Carolina High School Sand Volleyball Association is projecting 20-30 schools involved with club sport activities at their schools.
Let’s now look out 5 years… we will likely see over a 100+ colleges with established sand volleyball programs. Many players will decide by the time they are entering high school that they want to play sand, following a development course focused on that game instead of indoor volleyball. The high school sand league in NC may also be approaching 100 participating schools, and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association will consider sanctioning the sport, as happened recently with Lacrosse.
What about 10 years out? A network of sand volleyball facilities on high school and college campuses? A much more diverse geographical representation of sand players? “May Madness” for sand volleyball playoffs? With as bright a future as beach volleyball has, anything is possible!