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Catawba to add beach volleyball as 23rd varsity sport

Staff report

SALISBURY — Catawba College will add a women’s beach volleyball team to its sports program, following a funding gift by an anonymous donor. It will be the 23rd varsity sport that school offers its students.

Currently, more than 500 students participate in athletics at Catawba, a member of the South Atlantic Conference and NCAA Division II.

The gift will provide for the construction of three competitive beach volleyball courts near the middle of campus, according to Larry Leckonby, Catawba director of athletics.

Beach volleyball is an emerging NCAA sport and a new initiative in college athletics, Leckonby said. The Catawba courts are expected to be completed in time for competition to begin in the spring of 2020.

The program will add 12 to 15 new students at Catawba, with partial scholarships available for the sport, Leckonby added. The courts will also benefit Catawba’s intramural sports program, and other students will use the courts for outdoor recreation. The courts will also be available for rent to club sports teams or for community use.

The $250,000 beach volleyball complex is part the Catawba Office of Development’s three-year MIND BODY SOUL Campaign for Growth at Catawba.

“We are very grateful for this generous gift,” said Leckonby. “Beach volleyball will enhance our overall volleyball program.”

Leckonby plans to hire a director of women’s volleyball to oversee both the indoor volleyball and beach volleyball programs and an assistant indoor volleyball coach who will also serve as the head beach volleyball coach.

Long-time Catawba indoor volleyball coach Ginger Hamric resigned earlier this month. Hamric had been at the helm of the program since 1990.

Catawba is the fourth school in the SAC to sponsor beach volleyball, including Carson-Newman, Lincoln Memorial and Tusculum.

Currently, in the Carolinas, there are beach volleyball programs at UNC Wilmington, the University of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina and the College of Charleston. Beach volleyball is popular on the club sports level with programs in Greensboro, Charlotte, Wilmington and other areas of North Carolina.

Beach volleyball features two players on a side who play on courts that are slightly smaller than those that hold six players in court volleyball. The sport takes center stage every four years at the Summer Olympics and is increasingly popular on the college level, with more than 60 colleges invested in programs.

Visit gocatawbaindians.com for more information for Catawba College athletics.

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