By Heidy Brosofsky-Weaver
The Creekside High School girls’ volleyball team may not be able to bring the school to the beach, but they are working on bringing the beach to the school — a beach volleyball court, that is.
The beach team, led by Coach Megan Bowers, grew from a request by her indoor volleyball players to continue play in the summer. After two years of practice, the team started competing in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC) three years ago.
“It is a great opportunity for the girls to be exposed to another collegiate sport and a lifelong activity,” Bowers said. “Of course, they love the sun, too.”
Presently, the Creekside team does not have a home court, but a fundraising campaign is underway to transform a grassy patch behind the softball field into official competition courts.
According to Alexis Prieto, a member for four years, the team shares a single community court at Julington Creek Plantation. She said the team is unable to reserve the court for practice times, but “most people recognize us and will let us have the court or wait for us to get off the court.”
Prieto, who will attend the University of Florida in the fall, explained that at first the team traveled long distances to play; however, nearby Bishop Kenny High School opened three courts, and Episcopal High School added six.
Still, having courts in Creekside High’s backyard “would make it a lot easier for everyone,” said Erin Wagner. “We could have longer practice sessions and become better players in general.” The four-year veteran followed in her father’s footsteps as a competitive volleyball player, and she is looking into continuing in the intramurals program at the University of South Florida.
Already, former team member Emily Davanzo played on the University of North Florida’s beach team. And graduating seniors Jessica Lary and Samantha Byrd will be playing both collegiate beach and indoor volleyball next year at Austin Peay State University and St. Andrews University, respectively.
“It’s definitely one of the best sports I’ve ever played,” said Wagner.
Prieto agreed. Having just two players on a team (vs. six in regular volleyball) requires a lot of teamwork, and “communication matters more than anything.”
Bowers looks forward to growing the game and hosting dual exhibition matches for the community. At present, they are raising funds through donation links. Those interested in supporting the team may contact Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy Megan Bowers
The CHS volleyball team.