UCLA announced this week it has added sand volleyball as an intercollegiate sport for women.
Former Olympian and Bruins alum Stein Metzger will coach. He says it’ll take time for players accustomed to playing on the school’s indoor volleyball team to hone their skills on the beach.
“I just think it’s such a great opportunity for these girls to be able to try it and play it before they even leave university," he said. "And for some of ‘em that will fall in love with it, they’ll have the opportunity to possibly go to the Olympics and do what Kerri (Walsh Jennings) and Misty (May-Treanor) did the last three Olympics which was win three gold medals.”
Metzger said he imagines that the UCLA players' entire first season is going to be a learning process.
"This game is not figured out in weeks, it's figured out in years," he said. "But that's why I think (this is) so exciting because these atheletes don't have to wait to start learning the intricacies and differences between the indoor and outdoor game."
UCLA joins 20 other schools – including USC – with sand volleyball teams. The NCAA approved it as an emerging sport for women in 2009. The sand volleyball teams aren't eligible to participate in NCAA championships, but they could in the future if more schools hop on board. NCAA bylaws require that sports they've listed as "emerging" retain a minimum of 28 varsity programs for team sports within 10 years (or demonstrate steady progress toward that goal) to gain championship status.
The Bruins begin training next week for their first competition at Cal State Long Beach on March 11th.