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Oklahoma high school volleyball: Growth of beach volleyball leaving footprints across city

Teagan Polcovich (left) and Rorianna Chartier finished first at the USA Volleyball Naional Championship Qualifier in Kansas City. Beach volleyball is one of the fastest growing sports in Oklahoma and the country. [Photo provided]
Teagan Polcovich (left) and Rorianna Chartier finished first at the USA Volleyball Naional Championship Qualifier in Kansas City. Beach volleyball is one of the fastest growing sports in Oklahoma and the country. [Photo provided]

There were so many athletes wanting to play beach volleyball this summer, Lee Chartier had to start turning people away.

Chartier, who is the director of the OP2 beach volleyball program at Oklahoma Peak Performance, said his program’s numbers nearly doubled this summer, which was a trend at nearly every beach volleyball program across the state.

Indoor volleyball is the fastest growing girls high school sport in the country. At the Division-I level, beach volleyball is one of the fastest-growing sports ever, according to the Association of Volleyball Professionals.

Volleyball is growing across the country, but beach volleyball is leaving footprints in the sand across Oklahoma City, and it’s only growing.

“Everyone across the city saw their numbers double this summer,” Chartier said. “We were having huge growth as it is, but with COVID and indoor volleyball being shut down, more kids just came out and tried it.

“I’m hoping we see those numbers stay there.”

Beach volleyball is not an Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association sanctioned sport, yet nearly every beach player across the state also plays indoor volleyball during the fall at the high school level.

Arizona has had sanctioned high school beach volleyball for nearly a decade. California, Texas and Florida also have organized competitions. More states are exploring adding beach volleyball as a sanctioned high school sport.

Last season, two of the best players in the city, Rorianna Chartier and Teagan Polcovich, were both stellar indoor players but signed to play beach volleyball in college. Rorianna is now at Boise State while Polcovich is at Missouri State.

Polcovich’s mother, Lisa, is Deer Creek’s head volleyball coach and helps coach at OP2. She said part of the reason beach volleyball has grown so rapidly is simple.

“It’s really fun to play,” Lisa Polcovich said. “Plus it helps you develop your skills in every area. Hitting, setting, defense. You do it all in beach.”

There are six beach volleyball programs across Oklahoma City, with OP2 being the largest.

One of the reasons it grew so much across the city this summer was because of the coronavirus pandemic. Indoor courts and club matches were mostly canceled, but beach volleyball allowed more freedom because less players on a court, more social distancing and it was played outdoors.

Beach volleyball courts aren’t expensive to construct, about $15,000-$20,000 according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association, and are even easier to maintain, making it a money-friendly option.

There’s a chance beach volleyball could become a sanctioned high school sport in Oklahoma in the future. But for now, the growth at the club level, combined with how many high school players have started playing, is leaving a sizable footprint in the sand on showing whether it could be successful.

“It was an amazing summer for beach volleyball in Oklahoma,” Chartier said. “We’re starting to turn out college players. I’ve got several players talking to colleges now. It’s just continuing to grow.”

Cameron Jourdan

Cameron Jourdan joined The Oklahoman in March 2019 to cover high school sports. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in May 2018. He had an internship with The Oklahoman and Stillwater News Press. During his time at OSU, Cameron served in a... Read more ›

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