Beach volleyball becomes exhibition sport

BEACH TIME: St. John's School Knights girls indoor volleyball standout players, Hallie Wigsten, left, and Tylee Shepherd, will represent their school during the upcoming Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam third-quarter beach volleyball exhibition sport. Post file photo

For the first time on Guam, high school volleyball players will represent their schools on the sand. While not officially recognized by the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam, beach volleyball has been introduced as a third-quarter exhibition sport.

Made up of four teams from three schools, the league consists of two teams from the St. John’s School Knights, and one team apiece from the Tiyan High School Titans and the Harvest Christian Academy Eagles.

Starting at 4 p.m. on Jan. 29, the Eagles and Knights Red will christen the season at the Guam Football Association beach volleyball courts in Harmon.

Subsequent matches will take place on Saturdays at GFA.

St. John’s Athletic Director Chris Shepherd and Department of Parks and Recreation recreation manager Jon Cramer, with decades of volleyball experience between them, helped organize the league.

“Hopefully, what’s going to happen (is) ... next year, it will be even bigger and better, and more schools will be like, ‘we got to get in this,’” Shepherd said

Shepherd sees the beach game as a way to open doors to college opportunities.

“I think many of our girls ... have a better chance of getting a beach volleyball scholarship than they do an indoor volleyball scholarship,” Shepherd said. "For (National Collegiate Athletic Association) women, it’s one of the fastest growing sports.”

Shepherd has represented Guam in beach volleyball in international competition and is the Knights’ indoor volleyball head coach.

He feels that beach volleyball complements the skill set possessed by many volleyball players.

“It improves the players’ overall skills,” Shepherd said. “It is something different, but, in the end, will be good for them.”

Unlike indoor volleyball, size isn’t as much of a factor in determining success. Rather, speed and the ability to anticipate shot placement is more important.

“You don’t have to be that big,” Shepherd said. “It really is perfect for Guam players.”

For the girls participating in Guam’s inaugural test season, many of whom play at the beach in their free time, representing their schools on the sand is a dream come true.

“It’s fun to be able to play,” said Eagles multisport athlete Manami Cramer. “It’s great to see (the IIAAG was) able to start. Hopefully, more girls want to play.”