When you think of Arizona State University, a few things come to mind. A beautiful campus, great night-life and of course the sun, but now you can add sand to the mix as we welcome ASU’s Sand Volleyball program.
Sand volleyball is an emerging NCAA sport, and it is in its inaugural year at ASU. Jason Watson, the head coach for the indoor volleyball team has assumed the role of head coach for the sand team as well.
This season will prove to be a test for Coach Watson in having the responsibility of heading both teams; however, it is a responsibility that the coach is embracing.
“I’m having a wonderful time coaching at ASU, I’m growing as a coach and hopefully the athletes are growing, learning and getting better. There is no magic to this, just hard work,” Coach Watson said. Nevertheless, the addition of the sand program will require a few adjustments.
“We have to relearn a game that we thought we already knew. This blended model of both indoor and sand is very tough. We are taking this opportunity to get our indoor team better through sand volleyball but still maintain a competitive indoor team.”
“A big advantage for us is that my athletes can play more volleyball and get more practice. Plus, the more time you have with your athletes the more you can solidify those relationships.”
As for the future of beach volleyball, the sport is continuing to grow. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings have shed a lot of light on the sport for women. USA’s prolific duo won Olympic gold an unprecedented three times.
“Three to five years from now I hope that beach volleyball is playing for an NCAA Championship,” said Coach Watson. “I want Arizona State to have an independent sand program, where scholarships can be offered. We want to continue to advance the sport.”
Coach Watson ended with a message to all sports fans. “We want fans to learn that volleyball is a sport that lends itself to really getting the crowd involved. Our athletes are incredibly appreciative of any support they can get. People looking for a sport to follow or looking for role models, the athletes we have at ASU are remarkable.”
There are a total of 10 girls who play in five groups of two on the sand team. As the season progresses, keep an eye on these key players: Jordy Checkal, Bianca Arellano and Bethany Jorgensen.