Beach volleyball is now the latest addition to EKU’s 15 varsity sports teams, according to a press release from Morgan Romans, assistant director of communications for EKU Sports Current volleyball assistant coach Johnna Fouch has been named the interim head coach.
At an April 6 meeting, the Board of Regents voted in favor of a motion to start a beach volleyball team that would consist of current indoor volleyball players. This was the same meeting in which the Board voted to eliminate both mens and womens tennis teams.
“Eastern Kentucky University is very pleased to announce the addition of beach volleyball to our athletics program,” Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller said in the release.
Beach volleyball (formerly known as sand volleyball), is the fastest-growing NCAA sport in history, going from 15 programs in 2011-12 to 75 for the 2018-19 season, according to the news release. A NCAA beach volleyball season ranges from eight to 16 games and it begins March 1. The NCAA Championships are held the first week of May.
Lochmueller went on to say, “Beach volleyball is an emerging sport across the nation, and within the Ohio Valley Conference. Beach volleyball will be an exciting sport for our fans, and will offer increased opportunities to female student-athletes. I especially appreciate Johnna’s willingness to serve in this position during a time of transition within our volleyball program.”
EKU isn't the only school adding beach volleyball. Four other Division I schools added this sport between 2017-18. Those schools include: University of California – Davis, Southern Mississippi, North Alabama and the University of Tennessee at Martin. Four other Ohio Valley Conference schools currently sponsor beach volleyball: Tennessee-Martin, Jacksonville State, Morehead State and Austin Peay.
“The addition of this program has minimal expenses and adds no new staff,” the press release read “There will be no additional scholarship costs for 2018-19. As the program develops, future scholarship funding will be evaluated.”
Overall, Lochmuller and the athletics department are excited about the new addition.
“We look forward to growing this program at EKU and offering a new experience for our student athletes and our fans,” Lochmueller said in the release