Tulane coach optimistic for first season of play in sand volleyball
Sand volleyball, which Tulane added in addition to women's bowling to return to the NCAA-required 16 athletic programs, will begin competition as an emerging sport in August. Amy Williamson, who serves as the associate head coach of the indoor team, will act as the head coach of the sand volleyball team and said Tulane has the chance to make its mark in the sport.
"Tulane had an opportunity to be one of the first people to add it and get their foot in the door before a lot of schools do," Williamson said. "When looking at it, it gives an opportunity to be successful a lot faster and get to the top before other schools catch on to adding it. It gives us a leg up when it becomes a full-blown sport."
As an emerging sport, the NCAA will not hold a sand volleyball championship until it receives sponsorship by 40 institutions. Williamson said the American Volleyball Coaches Association plans to host a collegiate championship, but she is uncertain about how the first year will go.
"In this introductory year, no one's really sure how it's going to play out and how it's going to effect the indoor program," Williamson said. "It's going to be interesting this first year."
The Green Wave will field a team of 14 players who will all cross over from the indoor team. Williamson said some of her players have played sand volleyball at the junior and high school levels, but others will be competing for the first time.
"We have really athletic kids that you can put in any sport, and they would do well," Williamson said. "But we have competitive kids. There will be a lot of kids that will be able to transfer into the sand and do really well once they learn what's going on."
Williamson said she will recruit players in the future who will strictly compete in sand volleyball but added that she will rely on players that can compete in both sports.
Coaching sand volleyball requires a different focus than indoor volleyball, Williamson said. Opposed to indoor volley, which centers on position-specific skills, sand volleyball requires its players to excel in all of the various skill sets.
"In indoor volleyball, you're really trying to define a position for someone, and you're really training that position," Williamson said. "In sand volleyball, you have to train all the skills. You're really looking for well-rounded players that can pass, set, spike and dig. In that aspect, it's going to be more challenging when you're looking at types of kids you're recruiting and what you're doing in practices. You're really looking to do a lot more competition every day, so they're playing and getting a feel for the game."
Tulane will construct three sand volleyball courts on campus, where the Green Wave will host matches during the season beginning in March. Williamson said she will also work with Coconut Beach to host tournaments.
"We'll definitely be able to compete," Williamson said. "The Florida schools may have a little bit of an advantage because they have some kids over there that have been playing sand volleyball for probably their whole lives. But with there being no conferences, no championships, you're not necessarily competing for a conference crown or to get to the NCAA (championships). It's just kind of a free-for-all for the first year."
-Article courtesy NOLA.com