To view more photos of the beach volleyball facility click here
A vision five years in the making by Irvine Valley volleyball coach Tom Pestolesi turned into reality just before the winter break.
With the help, guidance and forward thinking of IVC Dean and Athletic Director Keith Shackleford in pushing the things forward, the newly renovated Irvine Valley beach volleyball courts are now ready for play.
Previously, Irvine Valley had three older courts with sand that had been there as long as anyone could remember.
That area was torn out and new courts were put in. But not just the aforementioned three.
Now the rehabilitated beach volleyball facility at IVC includes five courts with state of the art net systems and fine grain sand. It is the top on-campus facility for community colleges in the state, according to Pestolesi.
"It turned out as good as we could have imagined," said Pestolesi, who coaches the women's and men's indoor teams along with the women's beach squad at Irvine Valley. "There are only a handful of colleges, including four-year universities, that have facilities like this. Not a lot of people have five on-campus courts. It doesn't get any better. We can't wait to start playing."
Irvine Valley won the inaugural California Community College Athletic Association team state title in 2015 and finished as the runner-up last year. The Lasers have had individual pairs winners each of the last two years. IVC's pairs team of Hailee Earnest and Emily Reinking won the title last spring at Grossmont. Reinking ended up earning a scholarship to play beach volleyball at Grand Canyon University.
With women's beach volleyball teams having five pairs compete, Pestolesi said the five courts IVC now has will make matches run much more efficiently. Wait times for players and match lengths will lessen.
Shackleford was pleased with overall reconstruction process and is looking forward to what the facility will provide for the sport and the college in future years.
"Anything of significance takes some strategic planning due to the dollars involved, and being efficient managers of tax-payers dollars as we serve students is one of our most important professional duties," said Shackleford, who was a driving force behind the project from start to finish. "But that's also what makes this unique. One would be hard-pressed to find an opportunity to build an instructional facility – which this is – at less than $10 a square foot."
"At almost 30,000 square feet, with a project cost of approximately $250,000, the facility is easily among the most cost-effective in higher education. Add that maintenance is virtually nil over the course of a decade or more, and the facility becomes even more cost effective."
With women's beach volleyball becoming one of the fastest growing sports in the West Coast, it was truly a no-brainer for all involved. In community college play alone in California, the number of teams competing has gone from 15 teams in 2015 to 24 squads in 2016 to a projected 29 this spring.
"This is also an important facility as it relates to gender equity and increasing opportunities for women in intercollegiate athletics," said Shackleford, who has also been a driving force behind the women's beach volleyball game with California community colleges. "A women's specific facility helps colleges balance men-specific facilities such as football and baseball stadiums at a majority of institutions."
The courts will be used for an upcoming Beach Coaches Conference for coaches of all levels on Friday, Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. Featured guests include indoor and beach legend and USA women's indoor coach Karch Kiraly as well as Loyola Marymount women's volleyball coach Tom Black.
Irvine Valley's women's team will play an alumni scrimmage match on Saturday, Feb. 25 and officially open the 2017 season on Saturday, March 4 at Long Beach State, taking on Division 1 schools Long Beach State and Cal State Bakersfield at noon.