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By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech University President Dr. Phil Oldham and Director of Athletics Mark Wilson announced that the Golden Eagle Athletics Department will be adding the sport of beach volleyball with competition for the purple and gold set to begin in the spring of 2023. Beach volleyball will become the 15th intercollegiate sports team at Tennessee Tech.

“Beach volleyball brings energy and opportunity for our student-athletes and fans,” President Oldham said. “Our university and our conference continue to pursue growth and excellence. Working together to add sports is a way to keep athletics vibrant and relevant on our campuses.”

Wilson added, “We are excited to announce the addition of beach volleyball to the Tennessee Tech Athletics Department,” Wilson said. “This is a significant opportunity for our current volleyball student-athletes to compete in an emerging sport and take in a new collegiate experience while enhancing their development as volleyball players. We are proud to join this relatively new venture in the Ohio Valley Conference and are excited to begin competing for league championships in spring 2023.”

Current volleyball associate head coach Zach Weinberg will serve as the head coach for the Golden Eagle beach volleyball team, which will incorporate the players on the current indoor volleyball roster as team members as they retain eligibility from the fall into the spring semester.

“First, I’d like to thank Mark Wilson and [Tech volleyball head coach] Jeannette Phillips for trusting me with leading the very first beach team at Tennessee Tech,” Weinberg expressed. “Being named the head coach is humbling, yet exciting, and I can’t wait to get started.

“I’m very excited for my role in the volleyball program to morph as I take on beach volleyball. While I won’t be on the road recruiting quite as much anymore, I’m thrilled that I will have more of an opportunity to enhance the experience of our current student-athletes and make sure that they graduate from Tennessee Tech having had the best overall experience we could provide them.”

Tennessee Tech will represent one of five programs in the OVC to sponsor the sport of beach volleyball upon initial competition in 2023, joining Eastern Illinois, Morehead State, UT Martin, and new league member Lindenwood. Chattanooga also competes in the OVC as an affiliate member in beach volleyball, bringing the total of teams competing for an OVC title to six in 2023.

“I’m thrilled that our student-athletes will have an additional chance to compete for an OVC championship and a berth to the NCAA Tournament,” Weinberg explained. “These players have trusted Coach Phillips and me as we rebuilt the indoor program, and they are responsible for getting TTU volleyball to a place where we can once again compete for an OVC title. They deserve to be rewarded for all of their efforts and I believe that having the chance to compete for an additional OVC crown is that perfect reward.”

As of the 2022 campaign, a total of 86 NCAA schools at the Division I (64), II (16), and III (six) levels fielded beach volleyball programs, with the NCAA Championships for the event set to be held May 6-8 in Gulf Shores, Ala. The Ohio Valley Conference is one of eight NCAA Division I conferences that currently sponsor beach volleyball.

“I’m ecstatic for what adding beach means for our students-athletes,” Weinberg added. “Even though beach is the fastest growing sport in the NCAA, I would still consider it in its infancy. Our players jumping into the sport …….

Source: https://www.ttusports.com/general/2021-22/releases/20220411kegkc7

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