The Cal Poly Beach Volleyball team may get their own venue on campus in time for the 2019-2020 school year. A proposal for the construction of five new sand volleyball courts behind Mott Athletics Center awaits final approval by the University Space Management Committee.
The primary reason for the new courts, according to head coach Todd Rogers, is to serve as a recruitment tool.
“They say recruiting is the lifeblood of any program,” Rogers said. “When a high school gal comes on campus and sees a really nice facility, the first thing [she’ll] think of is, ‘Wow, this school really supports this program.’”
Currently, the team switches between practices at the Recreation Center and Pismo Beach. Rogers said although both venues are adequate, the recreational courts exist for the student body, not for the team, and coordinating practices at Pismo Beach can be difficult.
“It’s like having a gym,” Rogers said. “We have a gym here so we can run basketball, volleyball, cheer and whatever else [is needed] in there. But without a gym, you can’t run those things, and then you have to go rent out a gym. Then everyone’s out trying to find somewhere to go.”
The team is currently one of the top 10 teams in the country, ranking No. 7 with a record of 3-3.
Deputy Athletics Director Nick Pettit said the success of the team brought greater interest from donors to invest in the program, resulting in discussions with Rogers and a desire for an on-campus space for the team.
“We want this to be one of the best facilities in the country,” Pettit said. “Our goal is to put a video board out there and really engage the students — have them come out and cheer on our student athletes. It’s kind of the last piece to put together to really put us over the edge and give us an advantage over other schools.”
The project aims to make the sport more accessible to students and encourage greater support for the program from the student body. Rogers said many people enjoy watching beach volleyball matches due to its different atmosphere from other sports. He said he hopes the “cooler ambiance around the courts” will attract more spectators for matches.
“It’s not just going to be some bleachers thrown there that you sit on and they’re freezing cold or 100 degrees hot because they’ve been baking in the sun,” Rogers said. “One of the things I said was, ‘If we’re gonna do this, don’t just throw some bleachers and some sand out there. That’s gonna be lame [and] I’d rather not do it,’ is what I said. Either do it right, or don’t do it at all.”
The University Space Management Committee discussed multiple proposed sites for the courts Feb. 16, according to an email statement to Mustang News from Space and Facilities Utilization Manager Jeffrey Dumars. Pettit said that, ideally, the project will take place behind Mott Athletics Center, a preference based on the cost, feasibility and convenience of the site. Discussions during planning shed light on keeping the courts close enough to the Mott “hub” that houses the team’s locker rooms, training rooms and overall resources.
Infrastructure-wise, the construction is not too complicated, Pettit said. But with this kind of larger facility project, other factors such as fire access and underground utilities must be considered and planned for. According to Pettit, the campus working group behind the privately-funded project is “very aggressive in moving the project forward as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
The project is currently in the preliminary stages and Dumars said he anticipates that the Space Management Committee will take action on the proposal at the next meeting April 2. There is an additional sub-committee involved with the evaluation of recreational resource utilization on campus composed of staff from Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), Cal Poly Athletics, Academic Affairs and Facilities. This sub-committee met Feb. 27 to discuss the court’s project to further inform the next Space Management meeting.
Pettit said they hope to have the courts finished by the end of Summer 2019, before the next academic year begins. Although Pettit declined to disclose donor names at this time, he said the donors are Cal Poly alumni and are “intimately involved with the program.”
The Cal Poly Beach Volleyball team takes on Cal State Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield Saturday, March 9 at Pismo Beach.