Video by: Kaitlyn Bowers, Video Director
Featured image by: Darvin Nelson
The nets are up, the ribbon is cut, and the sand’s texture is just right at the brand new Cooper Beach Volleyball Complex.
UNF Athletics held a ceremony for the grand opening of “The Coop” and among the attendees were UNF President David Szymanski, Athletic Director Lee Moon and UNF Student Body President John Aloszka.
“The Coop” is UNF’s first beach volleyball complex on campus and is located just past the softball stadium on the way towards Lot 18. The Complex was funded by alumni and Dwight and Christine Cooper.
During the ceremony, President Szymanski announced their next athletic facilities project will be for the swimming program.
Emily Strack Roberson was on the inaugural UNF beach volleyball team back in 2012 and revealed the laundry list of places the team had to train in back in the day.
“When we first started back in 2012, we practiced at the Fountains which was brand new back then,” Strack Roberson said. “We also played at Jax Beach and then we also played at JU, unfortunately.”
Flash forward to 2020 and the UNF beach volleyball team is practicing for the upcoming season at their new five court facility. Madilyn McCarty is one of the leaders on the team and still can’t describe her emotions of first setting foot in the sand.
“I don’t think it’s set in yet, still,” McCarty said. “It’s just such a huge project that’s been in the works since beach volleyball started at UNF.”
With a new complex on campus, McCarty believes it will help the team elevate their game.
“If we have a really awesome team who loves each other and works hard and a new facility, we’re just going to get a higher level of volleyball from here on out,” McCarty said.
Kristen Wright is entering her third season with the UNF beach volleyball team and ranks the opening of The Coop high on her list of top moments.
“I like the building process and I’m still pretty young but this is up there for sure,” Coach Wright said. “I feel like I get to take this platform and bring it to another level. Some might perceive that as pressure but I’m called to it and I think we’re going to do something here.”
Students can bring out their towels and beach chairs on Friday, Feb. 21 at noon when the Ospreys take on Georgia State at The Coop.
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