By Avery Sanders, Photo Editor
For the first time in MiraCosta College’s 80-year history, sand volleyball is coming to the Athletics Department, and will be led by Kristen Wright, hired as Head Coach. Developing a new sports team had been in discussion for nearly two years. “I think it’s been needed for a long time,” stated Athletic Director Patrick Conahan.Kristen Wright was hired in early January. A local coach from Tri-City High School, Wright has been coaching for nine years and has won the CIF championship each year. “She’s a tremendous coach,” said Conahan. “She’s very connected to the community at Tri-City [and] she cares about the people she works with,” he stated. As a coach it is important to be in touch with the players. According to Conahan, not only is Wright a “good people person,” she can effectively motivate her team. “People want to play for her,” said Conahan.
Unlike indoor volleyball, sand volleyball will not be intercollegiate for the first year, meaning there will be no governing body and fewer requirements on who can participate. Sand volleyball’s club status means participants need only to have enrolled in four academic units with no minimum GPA requirement, instead of the 12 units with a 2.0 GPA that intercollegiate status requires.
“[There’s] not a whole lot of restrictions on who can be a part of it” said Doug Wright, coach and Kristen Wright’s husband. Wright has been coaching for 12 years, spending the last eight with his wife at Tri-City. He was hired by MCC two days after Kristen.
Sand volleyball is set to become intercollegiate in 2015. In order to prepare for intercollegiate competition, the Wrights will “treat it like a high level program.”
Recruiting for a first-year program can be tough, especially for a community college with no recruitment budget. Conahan claims that Wright is such an effective coach that people will come just to play with her. Finding enough experienced volleyball players to form a team can be so difficult that Wright has been recruiting at the high school level. For this reason, open tryouts will be held in August, with instructional courses to follow in the fall semester. “We expect a lot of interest,” said Conahan. As a respective coach with strong ties to the volleyball community, Conahan is confident in creating a competitive team from scratch. Sand volleyball games will run from the end of Feb. to the beginning of April. Competitions will begin towards the end of Feb. and go through March to the second week of April. They will be every Friday and the team will play all San Diego teams like Palomar, Grossmont, City College, and Mesa.
Sand Volleyball practice starts this week and is held at South Ponto Beach from 3 to 5 p.m. An official schedule will be posted on the college’s website soon. Since Wright is going to treat the program like an intercollegiate sport, not everyone will be able to play. “I would allow them to stay on, but they wouldn’t be playing in competition” said Wright. Anyone can join the team, but only the best will be able to play. Confident volleyball players are encouraged to contact both Conahan and the Wrights.