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Day of Caring effort made beach volleyball courts a reality at South Rowan Y

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post

For more than 20 years, requests for United Way’s popular Day of Caring projects have been greatly varied and often wide in scope.

South Rowan YMCA Associate Executive Director Aaron Crowe and Sports Director Carvie Kepley knew what they wanted, and plans were to install a beach volleyball court in September and October as a Day of Caring project, but weather and other factors postponed those plans.

Finally, on Monday, the South Rowan YMCA got what it requested when a beach volleyball court’s installation wrapped up. Only once before, about 10 years ago, had Day of Caring volunteers constructed a sand volleyball pit at Rowan Vocational Opportunities.

In the meantime, beach or sand volleyball, has been a rapidly growing sport fueled by the watchability of the Olympic competition.

“The popularity of the beach game at the Olympics starting in 1996 has really helped the sport grow,” said South Rowan High School’s Barry Rymer.

Beach volleyball was one of the most watched sports during the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, Rymer said. In 2009, Division I and Division II member colleges named sand volleyball an emerging sport for women. An NCAA championship for the sport began in 2016. Now, the sand volleyball sport has over 100 colleges with teams.

Catawba College will be adding a team in 2020, he said. It recently installed three competition courts.   

“Sand volleyball is a great game for anyone who plays indoor volleyball. The sport is much harder,” he said. “You have to be able to pass, set, hit and serve. It is much more difficult to move and jump in the sand.”

With its popularity in play, Vulcan Materials Community Relations Manager Denise Hallett went to work on the south Rowan courts last year.

“When I learned about the beach volleyball project at the South Y, I knew just who to call that could help with the abundance of sand needed for the pit,” she said.

Hallett said she shared the project with Hedrick Industries, which has family ties to Rowan County and a sales office is in Salisbury.

“They were happy to get on board,” she said. “Working with our local hauler, DLB Trucking, and their willingness to jump in at the last minute to beat the rain, we were able to get the project completed. I was thrilled to help connect the resources to make this project a reality for the south Y and community.”

Warren Moser of Hedrick Industries/Material Sales, said, the company was honored to help. It donated $3,000 worth of sand

“With the new court being local, our donation of the high-quality sand helped complete the project and makes a great surface for those who play at the YMCA,” Moser said.

A YMCA volunteer dug an NCAA regulation-sized pit, complete with a 10-foot sand border allowing for players to dive out of bounds to hit the ball.

Rowan Vocational Opportunities Executive Director Gary Yelton donated the poles and net from its court that is no longer used. Bruce Miller and Kepley installed the poles.

Ryder said the court will benefit South Rowan High School, and that the school is excited about its installation.

“South Rowan has a club sand volleyball team, but we haven’t had a place to practice that is close to the school,” Ryder said. “We plan on using the court to practice multiple times during the week in the spring sports season. Eventually we would like to have multiple courts so that we can host a sand volleyball tournament.”

Jackie Harris, associate director of the Rowan County United Way, said the organization was pleased to be part of the project and noted that its 2018 needs assessment indicated healthy lifestyle behaviors was one of the top three areas.

“Beach volleyball is a perfect example of how United Way and our partners can collaborate to move toward this goal,” Harris said. “We appreciate all those involved in making it happen.”

Crowe and Kepley have plans for YMCA programs and an upcoming beach volleyball tournament.

Crowe said, “When we can engage another segment of our community, it’s another win for us. Our staff has been excited about this venue and the opportunities it will offer for months now.”

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