The Sand Volleyball Struggle

By Marcus Mitchell

The construction of the new fitness center has become commonplace. It’s normal to hear the loud sounds of construction equipment and it’s nothing new when dust clouds the air. But the construction remains a large disruption to the intramural program on campus. Gone are the days of seeing sand volleyball every weeknight like in year’s past. No longer can students head to the basketball courts for a quick pickup game.

Instead, the only way you can see or play intramural sand volleyball is by heading to the single court near McKay Hall on Sundays. There, you will see the court dressed with official boundaries in the sand and a manual scoreboard on the sidelines. But it still doesn’t have the same feel that it did when the games were held on the old courts. However, the changes are much more than just a simple change of scenery, according to referee and senior human performance and spanish major Joshua Morrison.

“The school failed to put up any sufficient lighting for the court,” Morrison said. “It’s really disappointing and we have less daylight to work with. Also, they failed to build a fence around the court to prevent the ball from rolling out of the court. This causes short delays in each point and we have had some injuries due to kids having to jump down to get the ball.”

With 20 teams registered, the McKay court sees 10 games on Sunday, with the earliest being at 10:30 a.m. The games end around 6:15 p.m., just before the night falls and playing on the court becomes impossible due to the darkness. Having to make the games earlier in the year has made it difficult on teams scheduled to play on Sunday mornings, according to referee and senior entrepreneurship major Matt Sarli.

“I can guarantee that we won’t see either of the teams for our 10:45 a.m. games,” Sarli said. “Every Sunday, we get about two out of the 10 games that end up being forfeited from teams not being able to show up.”

The forfeitures have been an issue for sand volleyball all season long since members of greek life have sunday obligations and other players have responsibilities with weekend jobs. For captains, it has been a struggle to make sure the whole team comes together come gameday.

“We weren’t able to pick our own schedule and times that worked for us,” Sandy Cheeks captain and junior communication major Lawton Ho said. “A 4:45 game on a Sunday is super inconvenient; we can only get four or so of our players to come to games.”

However, despite the setbacks and adversity, most teams are just happy that they are able to take to the sand this year. Earlier in the year, there were talks that intramural sand volleyball wouldn’t happen at all. But the season must go on and many captains don’t regret signing up for the sport this year.

”More than anything, intramurals is about fun and this is fun,” Ho said. “We want to play intramural volleyball, even if the times suck.”

The move to McKay is not the only change that construction has forced on the intramurals on campus. This year’s three-on-three basketball season will be played indoors now that the outdoor courts no longer exist.

“We don’t have anything set in stone, but the games will either take place in Cass or Martinez,” Sarli said. “It’ll be a change for sure, but I think it will run just as smoothly.”

Intramural basketball games being played indoors is nothing new at UT, but the three-on-three variant of the sport has always been played outside near McNiff. The change has gotten mixed reviews from team captains in the process of registering for the 2015 season.

Personally I’d like to have it outside,” White Chocolate captain and sophomore criminal justice major Shamari Stewart said. “It just feels better, we have such great weather pretty much year round and it feels good to play outside. I guess that streetball feel is something I’ll be missing this year.”

The three-on-three season always had that concrete-playground atmosphere and felt much more like a backyard game than an official game. However, Headbands Make Her Dance captain and freshman sport management major Justin Lent is looking forward to the season being indoors.

“Personally, I prefer it being indoors and I think it will actually be better,” Lent said. “I know that three-on-three basketball has a history of being outdoors and in that street ball style, but indoor three-on-three will have a different feel and a whole new atmosphere.”

Players won’t have to worry about the Florida heat this year and the performances of the players shouldn’t be impacted too much. While the change isn’t as drastic as the one for volleyball, the three-on-three season will be the first of its kind at UT.

While most of the changes for intramurals this year have been forced and resulted in more obstacles than excitement, Campus Rec made a change of their own that has received nothing but praise from participants. This year was the first that featured kickball as a sport and 22 teams and over 350 players took part in the sport. While it’s too early to tell if it will be permanent fixture of the fall season, Sarli was pleased with the kickball season.

“Kickball was just a trial for us this season and it was received really well from what I saw,” Sarli said. “We aren’t sure if we will try out any other sports, but wiffleball has been in the talks for this upcoming spring line-up.”

Despite the adversity faced this season, Campus Rec and the intramural program has been able to please students and deliver a casual way for friends to compete. Registration for three-on-three basketball, flag football and handball is still in progress and lasts up until Nov. 2. These will be the last opportunities for students to compete toward winning intramural champion t-shirts this semester. The seasons will last until Dec. 3 so make sure you are ready for the commitment of balancing studying for finals with practicing for your team.

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