Beach time in Seattle: UW to debut sand volleyball team this spring

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Yes, it’s about to be beach time at UW.

Washington Director of Athletics Scott Woodward announced this afternoon that the Huskies have added sand volleyball as their newest intercollegiate sport.

This new team already has a Twitter handle: @UW_SandVB.

And it is already loaded: These new “Sand Dawgs” that will begin competition this spring will feature all 11 returners from UW’s 2013 Final Four indoor squad.

Yes, American Volleyball Coaches Association national player of the year Krista Vansant, a native of Southern California, is going back to her and her sport’s native roots as a Husky on sand.

Keegan Cook, an assistant on the indoor volleyball coaching staff, has been named head coach of the sand team. He will serve under
the direction of UW veteran Director of Volleyball Jim McLaughlin.

“You haven’t lived a full volleyball life unless you’ve spent time in the sand at some point,” McLaughlin, a surfer/beach boy in his own SoCal youth, said. “Bringing a new dimension of the game allows us to build upon the foundation of excellence established here at Washington, and offers us new opportunities to propel our programs to even greater heights.”

UW officials expect to finalize a competition schedule in the coming months. The sport is being phased in as the Huskies’ 22nd program; this spring home sand volleyball matches will be held at an off-campus site to be determined in or around Seattle. An on-campus venue is possible in the future.

"We are excited to add women’s sand volleyball, and give our student-athletes the opportunity to compete for championships in a sport
that is new to us,” Woodward said in the school’s release of the news today. “The rapid growth of participation in the sport here on the West Coast and nationally speaks to its popularity, and the remarkable potential it offers here at the University of Washington.”

In 2010, sand volleyball was identified by the NCAA as an emerging sport, intended to provide additional athletic opportunities to female
student-athletes. According to the AVCA nearly a half-million females 13 to 25 years old have taken up the sport since 2007.

Washington is the eighth Pac-12 school to add sand volleyball. Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and USC are the others.

There were 39 NCAA-sponsored sand volleyball teams in 2013. Fifteen schools competed in sand volleyball in 2012, and an additional 15 added the sport in 2013. If the total number of Division I and II institutions sponsoring varsity programs for one year reaches 40, the NCAA will begin to sponsor an NCAA championship in the sport.

“The support of volleyball in our community is tremendous, and we are excited to bring a new variety of the game to the University of
Washington,” Cook, the new team’s new coach, said. “This addition shows a high level of commitment to our volleyball program, and I’m grateful to Scott Woodward, Jim McLaughlin and our athletic administration for this opportunity.”