Bringing the Beach to Saint Leo

Saint Leo is widely known for its athletics program and the plethora of sports it offers to students, such as golf, basketball, swimming, and track to name a few. Now, lady lions can look forward to the addition of a new sport to the Intercollegiate Athletics Program in the spring of 2018: beach volleyball.

Beach volleyball has quickly become one of the most popular sports among NCAA institutions. Students can expect to see a lot of construction on campus in the upcoming semester. Saint Leo will immediately begin constructing a five-court complex on the intramural field near the Tennis Center.

The idea to bring the sport to campus was put forth by Saint Leo’s Gender Equity Committee. The announcement was recently issued to students and staff by University Communications. In the announcement, Saint Leo’s Athletics Director Fran Reidy stated that “The addition of beach volleyball will provide additional opportunities for women to compete in the Green and Gold for Saint Leo University and is a natural fit for Saint Leo athletics.”

Saint Leo already offers a long list of sports designated for both men and women, including basketball, golf, cross country, and lacrosse. In addition to indoor volleyball and softball, beach volleyball will be specifically geared towards female athletes. Peter Lefresne, the Assistant Athletics Director for Communications, believes that the new sport will help enrollment.

“[Beach volleyball] will help attract young ladies to Saint Leo University,” Lefresne said. “It will also help to provide additional intercollegiate sport opportunities for young women.”

Though the same principals apply, beach volleyball and indoor volleyball are two very different games. In accordance with NCAA regulations, the new beach volleyball team cannot be composed of all of the same members of the indoor team, a whole new team must be created. However, members of the indoor volleyball team will have the opportunity to play both sports.

College beach volleyball also differs drastically from Olympic beach volleyball. According to NCAA.org, there are three main differences: teams, attire, and gender. College volleyball games are played by an all-female team composed of at least five pairs, while the Olympic teams can feature both men and women playing as individual pairs. While Olympic competitors typically wear bikinis, Saint Leo’s players can expect to wear more modest, basketball-like uniforms. Students looking to join the new team shouldn’t do so expecting Olympic standards.

Lions’ head volleyball coach, Sam Cibrone, will now take on a different role as the new director of volleyball, meaning a new assistant coach will be added to the beach volleyball program. For students interested in joining the new team, Lefresne says that the process will be the same as joining any other sport in the intercollegiate program.

“Interested Saint Leo students should contact the head coach directly to find out about the timetable for open tryout opportunities,” said Lefresne. “As well as to complete any required medical clearance paperwork that may be required prior to a tryout.”

Lefresne and staff believe that beach volleyball, like all sports in the program, will be beneficial to students.

“The athletics program is a way for students to just play those sports that love,” said Lefresne. “Students will develop a lot of leadership skills and time management skills. It is well documented that there are a lot of different benefits other than the competitive aspect itself.”

Students interested in joining the beach volleyball team should visit the athletics department, located in the Marion Bowman Activities Center, for more rules and information. To learn more about the sport itself, visit http://www.NCAA.org.

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