The College of Marin Kinesiology and Athletics Department announced that women’s beach volleyball will be added to the slate of Mariners’ intercollegiate offerings beginning spring semester 2018. COM’s current indoor volleyball coach, Lisa Gera, will lead the team and recruitment of team members is underway.
A number of factors influenced the decision to add the sport. Three years of survey data demonstrated both student interest and athletic abilities. The addition is also in alignment with the College’s desire to provide equitable opportunities for female students to participate in intercollegiate athletics. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the increase in women’s beach volleyball programs has been rapid since it was officially recognized as an emerging sport at the college level.
“Beach volleyball has become the fastest growing NCAA sport in history, going from 16 teams in 2012 to 41 teams in 2015,” said COM Athletic Director Ryan Byrne. “We also have seen incredible growth at the high school level and among the community college ranks.” He added, “With the outstanding pool of local talent we have in Marin County along with the growth trend in intercollegiate opportunities at the four-year level, we feel that this is a tremendous opportunity.”
The team will compete in the Big 8 Conference against other area colleges including Foothill College, West Valley College, Cabrillo College, Sierra College, Delta College, and other community colleges in the greater Northern California region. With the addition of new beach volleyball courts at the Kentfield Campus projected for completion in January 2018, COM will be able to host a number of multi-college contests at the new venue.
COM’s Kinesiology and Athletics Department regularly reviews interest and ability in sports participation through surveys.
“Like many other colleges, we have seen a spike in interest in beach volleyball here at College of Marin,” said Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Lisa Gera. “All 10 of our student-athletes currently competing in indoor volleyball are excited about the opportunity, and we have a number of other students in the community expressing a lot of interest in the sport.”
Gera added that the benefits of playing beach volleyball are exponential. Athletes are able to build their overall game because they get more touches, at least one touch every play. With indoor volleyball, an athlete can go six plays without touching the ball. More contact with the ball translates to development of improved control and agility. The department also believes adding the sport will help to attract some of the best prospects in the area.
Currently, the Kinesiology and Athletics Department sponsors 10 sports—five for men and five for women. In addition to higher-than-average transfer rates, statistics show that COM student-athletes are more than three times as likely as non-student-athletes to be transfer-ready and three times as likely to complete their degrees. Nearly 65 percent of all student-athletes maintain a GPA greater than 2.5.
“We have an ongoing responsibility to offer courses, programs, and co-curricular activities that correspond with opportunities that our student-athletes can transfer to four-year colleges and universities,” said Superintendent/President David Wain Coon. “I look forward to watching this program grow and thrive over time.”