Hendrix College Warrior Athletics will add beach volleyball, the school’s 22nd NCAA Division III team.
Hendrix is only the fourth DIII institution in the country to offer beach volleyball since it became an official NCAA sport in 2016.
A familiar face will lead the new women’s sport, which debuts at Hendrix in March 2020.
Hendrix alumna and indoor volleyball standout M.C. Rogers (’16) was recently named head beach volleyball coach.
“I had such an incredible experience as a student-athlete at Hendrix College, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return to the campus I love with the most incredible people who have helped shape me into the person I am today,” Rogers, a Collierville, Tennessee, native, said.
Beach volleyball will build on the momentum of the College’s successful indoor program, which has earned consecutive Southern Athletic Association (SAA) regular season and tournament titles (2014-2016), advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four in 2015, and secured numerous individual player and team honors.
“We’re so excited to introduce beach volleyball as our 22nd intercollegiate sport at Hendrix,” Director of Athletics and softball coach Amy Weaver said. “It’s a great addition to Warrior Athletics, and Coach Rogers is the perfect choice to build this new program.”
Rogers was part of the 2014-2016 Southern Athletics Association Conference Championship and 2015 NCAA National Championship semi-finalist teams at Hendrix.
She was a two-time All-American Honorable Mention (2014 and 2016) and the first All-American in the Hendrix volleyball program.
“My experience as a student-athlete at Hendrix is one of the most valuable things I can bring to the program,” she said. “It allows me to relate to student-athletes and recruits on a personal level.”
Rogers, who joins the Hendrix Athletics staff this month, played two seasons of beach volleyball at the University of Central Arkansas, while working on her master’s degree in college student personnel services and administration.
“I know the switch from indoor to beach volleyball isn’t an easy one,” Rogers, who will also assist new Warrior indoor volleyball head coach Brittany Newberry, said. “I’ve experienced the frustrations and joys that come with learning a new sport with entirely different rules and strategies.
“Building a new program is about creating a culture of hard work and trust, already the cornerstone of Hendrix athletics. I know this team culture already exists because I was a part of it as a student-athlete, and that championship mentality exists at the core of Hendrix Volleyball,” she said. “Since many beach players will be hybrids (indoor and beach players), at least for the first few years, my focus will be to build on this culture. I’m eager to share my passion for this exciting new sport with the Hendrix community.”
Beach volleyball can actually help improve indoor volleyball performance.
It can help players gain a better awareness of the court, improve strength and agility (because sand makes everything harder) and increase vertical jump height.
While players can play both indoor and beach, beach volleyball is a completely different sport.
There are six pairs of two player teams on each team, ranking 1 through 6, and each pair plays the opposing team’s pair in their same ranking.
With only two players in each pair, both players must be great passers, servers, hitters, and defenders.
The best three out of five matches wins, and the sixth ranking is an exhibition game that doesn’t count toward the team win.
Beach sets go to 21 (instead of 25 in indoor competition); and the best two out of three sets wins (indoor is best three out of five sets).
Beach courts are slightly smaller than indoor courts, and the sand surface changes everything. Beach players have to develop a strategy to combat the adverse effects of outdoor factors, such as rain, sun, temperature, and wind.
The uniform will be the regular volleyball spandex, tank tops, and bare feet (unless it’s cold, then layers of socks will be absolutely necessary).
One significant difference about beach volleyball is that coaches are not allowed to speak to players unless they are switching sides (which happens when both scores add up to a multiple of seven for the first two sets to 21, and multiples of 5 for the third tie-breaker set to 15) or the players call a timeout. This forces pairs to work together to problem-solve and make changes quickly.
“It is a game of quick problem solving, strong mentality, cooperation, and communication, vital components to the liberal arts education,” Rogers said, adding that beach volleyball truly embodies the Hendrix motto “Unto the whole person.”
Rogers will begin recruiting this summer and building the team for next year.
She would like to begin with 14 players, which may include indoor players.
Until Hendrix develops a beach volleyball facility, the Warriors will practice at UCA.
“There is only one other collegiate beach volleyball team in the state of Arkansas, and thankfully it’s right down the street,” she said. “It is likely that we will have several opportunities to play against UCA because they are so close. We are hoping to compete in many of the tournaments that UCA has competed in during their two years as a program.”
Rogers hopes the new sport will attract new student-athletes and sports fans to Hendrix.
“Beach volleyball is expanding rapidly in the places where Hendrix already recruits heavily, including California and Texas,” she said. “Not many people in Arkansas have seen beach volleyball besides on the Olympics, so it’s a new sport that students and student-athletes will be excited to witness and experience.”