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By Joe Naiman
Village News Reporter 

CIF adds sand volleyball pending state concurrence

Sand volleyball is expected to become the newest CIF San Diego Section sport.


Last updated 6/26/2020 at 1:44am

Sand volleyball is expected to become the newest CIF San Diego Section sport.

A unanimous CIF Board of Managers vote, May 20, approved sand volleyball as a CIF San Diego Section sport contingent upon CIF State Federated Council recognition of sand volleyball as an authorized sport. Sand volleyball would be for girls only. Although only two players from each team will be on the court at the same time, the match format will be similar to doubles play in tennis, which also includes singles sets, as five tandems from each school would compete against five tandems from the other school.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” John Labeta, CIF assistant commissioner, said.

The formal planning to make sand volleyball a CIF sport began in 2012. The Sand Volleyball Association formed the San Diego High School Beach League which began play in 2013, and that year eight schools participated. In 2019, more than 400 girls from 34 different schools competed.

“We’ll have plenty of teams,” Labeta said.

On a statewide basis more than 1,000 girls were involved in high school club leagues. The Arizona and Florida governing bodies for high school athletics already recognize sand volleyball as a sport, and on a nationwide basis more than 5,000 girls annually compete in tournaments. Currently approximately 100 four-year colleges and more than three dozen junior colleges have interscholastic sand beach volleyball, which provides scholarship opportunities for high school girls.

“I’m just excited that it’s finally getting approved,” Kelly Drobeck, director of Sand Volleyball Association, who is also the La Jolla High School girls volleyball coach and the coach of the 692 Beach Volleyball club, a sand volleyball court is approximately 692 square feet on each side; the total dimensions are 52 feet, 6 inches by 26 feet, 3 inches.

Because the San Diego High School Beach League operates under CIF guidelines, the transition from a club sport to a CIF sanctioned sport would be noticeable at the CIF and school administrative levels but would only have competition impacts at the coaching and playing levels. Since 2015 a state championship tournament involving teams from the San Diego, Southern, Central Coast and North Coast sections has been conducted.

“It’s taking the right steps,” Labeta said. “They’re well prepared when it becomes a CIF sport to jump right in.”

The term “sand volleyball” rather than “beach volleyball” allows the use of sand courts away from a body of water. Currently, eight San Diego County schools have sand courts and four other schools are in the process of building courts. The cost to build two to five courts depends on the facility size and the type of sand used and ranges from $15,000 to $150,000. Most schools currently practice at local beaches and the annual league fee, insurance, uniform, equipment and coaches’ stipend expenses are usually between $3,000 and $4,500.

The CIF State Federated Council consists of representatives from the 10 CIF sections, and state CIF approval will be needed to sanction sand volleyball at the section level.

“We expect it to pass at the Federated Council,” Labeta said.

Boxing is the only sport specifically prohibited by the State Federated Council. The state CIF has approved 20 sports, not counting separate boys’ and girls’ programs and including diving as part of swimming. The San Diego Section has 19 of those sports with skiing being the exception – under state CIF policy snowboarding is considered a skiing event – although two of those sports, badminton and roller hockey, are played by members of only one San Diego Section conference.

The State Federated Council approval is expected during the 2020-2021 meetings, which would allow sections to have sand volleyball beginning with the 2021-2022 CIF year.

“It’s still a year from being a CIF sport,” Labeta said.

Indoor girls’ volleyball is a fall sport and boys’ volleyball is a spring sport, so if sand volleyball is played during the winter season coaches as well as players will be available.

“I think it’s going to be a winter sport,” Labeta said.

Because five duos from each school would compete in the match, the roster size for sand volleyball is expected to be similar to the court version.

“It’s been eight years in the making, so I’m truly excited to have it all be a go,” Drobeck said.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected]


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