Zero to Forty: Chronicling the Growth of Collegiate Sand (now Beach) Volleyball
Below are excerpts from a first hand account that Director Kathy DeBoer wrote along with a collection of memorable moments for the American Volleyball Coaches Assn. magazine in March of 2014.
By Kathy DeBoer
From the onset, 40 was recognized as the number of programs that the NCAA required in order to consider sponsoring an official national championship. The path to 40 programs wasn’t an easy one, and the tireless efforts of many unsung heroes were, in many cases, the only thing driving the momentum onwards and upwards.
The growth of sand volleyball at the collegiate level is historically unprecedented, and by reaching the magic number in 2014, the game is the fastest-growing emerging sport in history. Even more exciting is the fact that the sport not only continues to grow regionally, but more programs around the entire country are considering the addition of a sand program with every passing month.
The growth of sand volleyball didn’t happen when someone flipped a switch; rather, its ascension is one that was fought for with great perseverance and determination, defended vigorously in committee meetings and supported by unlikely players throughout the athletics community.
September 2006: AVP televises a reality beach volleyball event for college players called “Go Pro or Go Home” on CSTV. Both groups approach AVCA about helping to create a college event in the spring of 2007.
December 2006: T.J. Meagher, AVCA Board Representative for Legislation, visits with Lynn Holzman, NCAA Associate Director of Membership Services, on the rules ramifications of running a spring beach event for college players with the AVP and CSTV.
April 2007: Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford, Texas, Minnesota, Florida, San Diego and Cal Poly compete in the first Collegiate Beach Nationals, a CSTV event, held in San Diego.
June 2007: AVCA does a membership survey of DI women’s coaches on beach volleyball as a collegiate sport. 74% said adding more scholarship and participation opportunities for women would be good for volleyball generally.
July 2007: NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics assesses emerging sports program and reviews a preliminary report on beach volleyball as a potential addition.
Sept 2007: CWA meeting focuses on lack of growth in emerging sports of archery, badminton, team handball and synchronized swimming, all on the list for more than 10 years without growth in sponsorship.
March 2008: Sunshine State Conference and SEC hold unofficial beach championships.
June–July 2008: AVCA collects Letters of Endorsement from colleges and is also endorsed by the USOC, USAV, AVP and several conferences.
July 2008: NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics recommends that beach volleyball be added to the emerging sports list for women. CWA changes the name to sand volleyball to make the sport more appealing to non-coastal areas of the country.
October 2008: NCAA DIII Management Council decides not to recommend adding sand volleyball to the emerging sports list for their division.
January 2009: Over 90 percent of NCAA DII schools vote to add sand volleyball to their emerging sports list; DI Legislative Council votes by 62.9 percent to add sand volleyball, a percentage that triggers a second vote in April.
April 2009: NCAA DI Legislative Council approves adding sand volleyball to the emerging sports list.
June 2009: 63 schools in DI sign a petition to override the decision and remove sand volleyball from the emerging sports list.
October 2009: USC announces that they will add sand volleyball as a varsity sport if the override is defeated, making them the first school to announce a varsity program. Southern Cal Coach Mick Haley said that having a Pac-10 Conference Championship in sand to televise shows that his school was correct in leading the way. Sand is everywhere out here.”
January 2010: Override is defeated by 12 votes; sand volleyball stays on the emerging sport list in DI beginning in August of 2011.
February–April 2010: NCAA appoints a committee to write the DI legislative regulations.
May 2010: Florida State announces they will add sand volleyball as a varsity sport and hires Danalee Corso, making her the first full-time collegiate sand coach.
June 2010: Championships Cabinet runs out of time on a conference call and doesn’t pass playing and practice season legislation. The Sun Belt Conference rescues the legislation by getting proposal sponsored before the July 15 deadline.
For an Emerging Sport to be considered for an NCAA Championship, forty schools must add programs with in a ten year period.
July 2010: Tulane and Louisiana-Monroe announce they will add sand volleyball as a varsity sport.
November 2010: AVCA starts keeping a list of schools that have confirmed and schools that are considering sand volleyball.
January 2011: Legislation governing the sport is passed by DI; scholarships are phased in starting with three in 2011–12 and adding one annually to six in 2014–15; DI also authorizes 16 maximum/eight minimum playing dates and a two-coach limit on staff.
May 2011: A Sand Volleyball Coaches Committee is formed.
October 2011: AVCA sends out an RFP for a host for a National Collegiate Volleyball Championship; Nina Matthies of Pepperdine takes over as DI Sand Volleyball Coaches Committee Chair.
November 2011: Gulf Shores selected as the site for the first AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships April 27-‐29, 2012.
February 2012: 15 NCAA schools and one NAIA school set to play first season.
March 3, 2012: Florida State and University of Alabama at Birmingham play in first collegiate sand volleyball dual match.
April 2012: Atlantic Sun Conference hosts the first official Sand Volleyball Conference Championship.
April 27–29, 2012: The 2012 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championship consisted of both a team championship for the top four women’s sand teams and a pairs championship consisting of the top 16 collegiate doubles teams.
April 29, 2012: Pepperdine wins inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships event televised by CBS Sports Network.
August 2012: NCAA DII Grand Canyon University announces they will add a sand volleyball team.
September 2012: Georgia State adds the first sand volleyball team that all separate players from the court team.
November 2012: Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission awarded the AVCA Sand Volleyball Collegiate National Championships for three more years.
January 2013: Nebraska becomes first Midwest team to add a sand volleyball team.
February 2013: A group of seven northern California DI colleges for a consortium to play sand volleyball in the spring.
March 2013: One DII, one NAIA and 13 NCAA DI varsity programs start their first season of sand volleyball, joining the 16 of 2012.
May 2013: Long Beach State wins the second AVCA Collegiate Beach National Championship and USC win the Pairs Championship.
August 2013: Boise State becomes first Northwest program to announce a sand team.
September 2013: Oregon becomes the seventh Pac-12 team to add a team.
January 2014: Texas Christian University announces they will add a sand team in 2014–15, becoming the first Texas program. Washington makes it eight in the Pac-12 playing in the spring of 2014.
September 2015: NCAA Sand Volleyball officially recognized as an NCAA sport, and changed the name from sand volleyball to beach volleyball.
April 2016: Turner Sports agrees to telecast the inaugural NCAA Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship Game live.
May 2, 2016: USC defeats Florida State 3-0 to win the first ever Beach Volleyball Championship at Gulf Shores Public Beach.
May 2017: USC beats Pepperdine 3-2 in the title match to repeat as NCAA Beach Volleyball Champion.
December 2017: The NCAA and ESPN reach a multiyear agreement to telecast the NCAA Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship through 2022.
May 2, 2018: UCLA defeats Florida State 3-1 to win the NCAA Brach Volleyball Championship at Gulf Shores Public Beach.
May 2019: UCLA defeats USC 3-2 to repeat as NCAA Beach Volleyball Champion at Gulf Shores Public Beach.