Beach volleyball and equestrian chosen as new women’s teams

MARK HONBO / UC DAVIS ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS

Campus working group confirms the addition of beach volleyball, equestrian as new women’s sports

After almost six months in the making, nearly 600 nomination responses, and a public forum throughout the process, the working group at UC Davis whose duty to select the new women’s sports added to the university ended today, April 13. With the addition of beach volleyball and equestrian, the university now sponsors 16 women’s intercollegiate athletic teams to adhere to Title IX compliance.

Both of these teams are scheduled to begin operating in the 2018-2019 school year, and gifts are currently being solicited from donors to ensure both sports have long term financial stability, according to a press release by UC Davis athletics.

“The process included outreach to various donor groups who had a particular affinity for the candidate teams,” Athletics Director Kevin Blue said in a phone interview. “People could make a pledge of support that would be binding only contingent on their preferred sport being added.”

As for the process by which faculty will be hired, Blue says the Athletics Department “[doesn’t] have those details finalized at this point but [does] look forward to moving without undue delay in [its] coaching searches.”

For beach volleyball, UC Davis will now be seventh school to compete in this sport in the Big West Conference. Planning for a new practice and competition facility has begun immediately according to the press release.

“Beach volleyball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States,” Blue said. “It has been a significant driver of interest at the Olympic Games so beach volleyball is an increasingly popular sport.”

The new facility will be funded by a generous gift from a university alumni and donor who wants to remain anonymous.

“I’m just wondering where they are going to be getting beach volleyball courts,” said third-year environmental policy major, Regina Weiss. “I think [the addition] makes more equality in sports, it gives women more opportunities to be in athletics at the school.”

Current UC Davis women’s head volleyball coach Dan Conners will oversee the beach volleyball program as the director of volleyball, and a national search will begin to hire a head coach for the team.

“Right now we [the indoor team and coaching staff] are excited,” Conners said in a phone interview. “We will be looking to hire an additional staff member to run the beach side of things. We have to hire a coach and get the recruiting process going for the team, but right now there will be meeting with administration to carve a path forward.”

As for equestrian, the team will compete at a national level in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association against large public schools. The team will be partnered with the  School of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis.

“With respect to equestrian, I think people in the UC Davis community are familiar with the robustness of our equine programs both in animal science and veterinary medicine,” Blue said. “As a result, the community of people who are interested in equestrian is robust at UC Davis.”

There is currently a capital campaign to build a “state-of-the-art equine performance center” noted in the press release. The team is said to work closely with Campus Recreation, who manages the UC Davis Equestrian Center, which has been at the university since 1962.

“An NCAA Equestrian program at a university such as UC Davis will draw some of the top riders in the nation,” said Dr. Leah Fiorentino, the executive director of the NCEA in an email interview.  “UC Davis has access to one of the strongest pool of Equestrian student-athletes on the West Coast, making UC Davis the strongest in your geographical area to add this type of meaningful education opportunity for NCAA Equestrians.”

The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) works in collaboration with the NCAA to guide the sport of NCAA Equestrian through the emerging sport process and we look forward to supporting UC Davis over the next few months.

Donors have already offered support to the program and further gifts for continued financial stability are being sought. As far as the horses for competition, “horses that are part of collegiate equestrian programs are often gifted to universities”, the press release mentioned. A national search for a head coach for the new equestrian team will begin immediately.

 

A summary of the process of the working group and the assessment of the new teams can be found here.

 

 

Written by: Ryan Bugsch and Veronica Vargo — sports@theaggie.org

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