In 2009, the NCAA Division I Legislative Council added sand volleyball to the list of emerging sports for women, clearing the way for schools to use the sport toward minimum sponsorship requirements and minimum financial aid awards.
“The opportunity to play sand volleyball in the spring will spur growth in the sport. I wish I had that opportunity when I was at Stanford,” said 2008 Olympic Beach Gold Medalist, Kerri Walsh. “Additionally, this development will give more women an opportunity for a professional volleyball career in the United States,” she added.
In 2011, Mercer University, under the leadership of the newly appointed Head Coach Damian Elder, will officially add sand volleyball as a sport, and many members of the indoor team will take to the beach for some heated competition.
Elder has a wide array of experience in coaching on the sand. During his time at the University of South Carolina, the school fielded its first competitive sand volleyball team. Elder assumed responsibility of the sand program, instituting the first sand training program and first SEC sand camp before leading the team to the SEC Beach Championship title in 2009.
Junior Jenn Katona couldn’t withhold her excitement for sand volleyball. “I am excited to have the sand volleyball courts available to us. We are humbled with the opportunity to make history at Mercer. We haven’t been able to stay away from the sand since the courts opened.”
Sand volleyball is not the only addition to Mercer, as there has been addition to the coaching staff of the program as well. Elder made the first step in putting his stamp on the program, announcing the hiring of Scott Schweihofer as an assistant coach. Schweihofer joins the Bears after most recently serving as assistant coach at the College of Charleston with Elder.
Schweihofer brings six years of collegiate coaching experience to the program after holding various coaching positions at the College of Charleston, Limestone College, Presbyterian College and Michigan State.
In his most recent position at Charleston, Schweihofer coordinated opponent film breakdown, video editing, film exchange, practice planning and game day operations.
“I am fortunate to have someone of Scott’s character willing to tackle this exciting challenge with me,” Elder said. “His willingness to work, learn and create have already helped push Mercer Volleyball towards a new frontier in just the two weeks we have been here. With Scott, Dan and our manager Jeffery, I’m positive I can design an engaging and positive experience for the student-athletes at Mercer now and the student-athletes to come.”
Elder, Schweihofer and the Bears will begin its inaugural sand volleyball season on Mar. 21, hosting the University of Alabama-Birmingham at the new sand volleyball courts on the Macon campus. Match time is scheduled for 4 p.m.