Chandler sets new standard with beach volleyball courts SanTan Sun News

Chandler sets new standard with beach volleyball courts

Chandler sets new standard with beach volleyball courts
Sports and Recreation
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BY Brittany Bowyer
Contributor

Casteel High School beach volleyball coach Beth Krohmer is excited about the Chandler Unified School District’s vision for the sport, and for good reason.

District governing board members approved in November an $840,000 state-of-the art beach volleyball facility across the street from Casteel High School near Power and Riggs roads. Completed ahead of the 2019 beach volleyball season, the six-court facility houses all practices and home matches for the district’s six high school programs – Casteel, Hamilton, Chandler, Perry, Basha and Arizona College Prep.

“We are expecting to be the premiere sand district in the state,” Krohmer said.

District officials went to great lengths to ensure the facility was up to par with elite college facilities often found at the Division I level.

Marcus Williams, Chandler Unified school district’s (CUSD) Director of Athletics, sat down with officials from some of the top universities across the country to share the district’s vision for the facility. From proper lighting to proper sand, Williams learned how each would be beneficial for CUSD athletes.

“The level and quality of sand is important for when the players dive for balls, as it’s softer for their bodies and is better for maintaining,” Williams said. “Previously, the teams would practice at city parks, and the sand used was playground sand.

“While it still works, it is more rocky and creates more dust, making for a more harsh playing experience.”

Sand from San Juan Capistrano was brought in for the facility. Williams said it’s the same sand used on other beach volleyball courts at the University of Arizona, USC and UCLA.

A water system was installed to spray the sand between matches to keep it cool under the scorching Arizona sun. A drainage system was also installed to prevent the courts from flooding in the event of a rain storm.

The district was able to put the drainage system to the test last month when the Valley experienced two consecutive days of rainfall.

Routine maintenance such as raking the sand is done by teams after each practice or match. So far, Williams said teams have taken good care of the facility, which reduces further costs for the district.

“It’s unbelievable,” Krohmer said. “Everyone who comes here compliments it. As for the student athletes, they’re appreciative of the opportunity to both practice and play at the new courts.”

Casteel High School’s beach volleyball team used to practice at nearby Seville Park. Two courts were made available to the program, but the quality was nowhere near that of the new facility now within walking distance. 

The commute to the facility is much longer for other programs, as the facility is located on the outskirts of the CUSD boundaries. But the opportunity to compete on a safe playing surface makes the commute worth it.

“It’s amazing, and I’m really proud to call it our facility,” Basha High School sophomore Haley Carrington said. “Here the sand is actual beach sand. It’s just a lot nicer and a lot easier to go 110 percent for a ball.”

Carrington said Basha used to practice at Discovery Park, where the sand was hard and often felt like rocks.

The new facility creates a more enjoyable playing experience for players like Carrington. She says the courts give off the impression that you are actually playing on the beach.

“When you go to California, you’re playing on an actual beach,” Carrington said. “But when you play in Arizona, you get what’s referred to as stadium courts. It’s just shallow sand that’s not nice to dive in and it favors a lot more of indoor-related volleyball.”

“But out here, it favors a lot more beach skills.”

Transportation is provided for players to and from the facility for practices. Though if athletes are of legal driving age, parents are able to sign a waiver allowing them to commute on their own to the facility. For matches, however, every player travels by bus with their team.

Beach volleyball has seen an expansive growth in the state since the Arizona Interscholastic Association included it as a sanctioned sport in 2012.

Krohmer has seen interest in the sport grow rapidly both at Casteel High School and other schools across the state. The growing interest resulted in the number of participating schools nearly tripling in the past three years. There has also been an increase in talent.

“I’ve had a lot more girls come out, and the talent level, the caliber, has increased tremendously,” Krohmer said. “Starting out we had a good amount of interest. But it was new to most of the girls so not a lot of them had beach experience.”

“Now in our third year, we have a lot more girls who exclusively play beach.”

CUSD is already looking for opportunities to host state-championship matches as early as this season. The facility will also be available to be rented by club teams to bring in extra funds.

Williams believes the facility will not only set a standard for other districts in the future, but it will provide more opportunities to athletes already involved in the sport and those looking to join.

“We have a handful of students who are growing yearly. They have already received scholarships to play beach at the next level, which is amazing,” Williams said. “It’s providing another opportunity for our student athletes to play collegiately.”

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