Right before the volleyball season started, Sami Murray heard that the university was going to be installing a sand volleyball pit where the Kirk House used to stand. Murray, senior education and math major and setter for the girls volleyball team, thought it was a good plan, but was surprised at the use of space.
“I thought it was a pretty good idea, but personally I actually figured they would put more parking there,” Murray said. “But it’s still cool.”
In an e-mail from Barbara O’Malley, associate vice president and chief communications officer, she said the university felt the sand volleyball pit fell in line with Webster’s development goals. O’Malley stated it also can be easily removed as future plans for campus expansion come to fruition.
“Striking the right balance between developing space for parking and developing long-term sustainable green space is one of our planning objectives as we move forward,” O’Malley said in e-mail.
John Ginsburg, director of the University Center (UC) and student activities, said the student response he’s been hearing regarding the new volleyball pit has been positive. However, some students preferred the space to have been used differently. Matt Creek, senior audio major, had other hopes.
“I think the land would be put to better use for something else, but I doubt about 20 parking spots would make any difference,” Creek said. “Currently, it feels like they picked the first thing someone said and went with it. Honestly, I would prefer a tree/reading area since they cut down the one by Webster Hall.”
Video by Haley Luke
The Kirk House was demolished the second week of August in order for the university to move forward with its master plan. The construction of the $20,000 sand volleyball pit began only about a week later.
The university’s master plan called for the demolition of the Kirk House, but did not include the construction of a sand volleyball court. Instead, in the most recent master plan draft, a recreation facility is to be built where the Kirk House stood.
The master plan, however, is a vision for the future and not a definite course of action for the university.
Ginsburg met with Courtney Turner, student supervisor of student activities, and Bill Boxdorfer, graduate assistant of campus activities, to discuss the goals they wanted to accomplish in the upcoming academic year. The idea of creating a sand volleyball court came out of that meeting.
Ginsburg called Steve Strang, senior project manager, to pitch the idea. Within 24 hours, Ginsburg got a call back that it could be done.
Ginsburg said the use of the court will be formal and informal. This means students can reserve a time to use the court with their friends and borrow a ball from the fitness center desk. Student activities also plans on using the pit for intramurals and other events.
Though the pit is completed, it won’t be open for use for another week or two because of the brand new sod planted around the court. For Ginsburg, that’s good news.
“It will be in use for homecoming so the entire parking lot will be taken up by rides like every year, but now we’ll also have, in the middle of it, a sand volleyball court,” Ginsburg said.
This year also marks the UC’s 20th anniversary. Campus activities has events planned on Wednesday, Sept. 12 for, what Ginsburg calls a “hump day celebration.” Though a date hasn’t been set for when the court will open, Ginsburg said that could be a day for the celebration and the court’s grand opening.
“If that works out, it’d be like all the pieces are falling together perfectly,” Ginsburg said.
About 12 years ago, Webster had a sand volleyball pit where the Community Music School now resides. It wasn’t tied to student activities like the new pit, and was used in a more informal way. The pit was removed in order to put in more parking spaces.
During the fall season, the volleyball team plays and practices in the gym. Murray said sometimes in the spring the girls have practice at Whitecliff Park for a change of pace. However, they now may consider using Webster’s new sand volleyball court instead.
“Playing in the gym and playing on the sand court is a lot different, so it would probably be used more for fun and not as competitive,” Murray said.