Columbia, SC (WLTX) --- On February 28, 2013 University of South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner announced the school would have a new intercollegiate sport. Sand Volleyball became USC's 21st sport. And in the time since the announce, head coach Moritz Moritz has spent much of his time assembling a team and teaching them to work together.
South Carolina joins 30 other Division One programs to participate in sand volleyball. Practices are located just behind the right field fence behind Beckham Field. They will open the season March 8 on the road in Jacksonville. As the season draws nearer, the excitement continues to build around the team.
"It's still unbelievable to me," Paige Wheeler explains. "I would have never thought that I would be doing what I was doing right now when I came here."
Wheeler, like many on the roster, are "crossovers" from South Carolina's indoor volleyball team. Moritz has recruited new faces but is thankful for the players who are familiar with the South Carolina program. Both coach and his players agree there have been some adjusting with the indoor players but also a bit of familiarity.
"Coming from indoor it was a pretty easy transition," Wheeler said. "Some of the girls came with me and we already had good team chemistry."
The newest group to wear the garnet and black find pride in establishing a program and laying the foundation for future Gamecocks.
"I think it's a cool opportunity to be the first part of a program because you're laying the foundation of what the program will be," said Mikaela Christiaansen, another "crossover" from the indoor program.
Her teammate echoed a similar thought.
"It's an unbelievable experience to be apart of this new program," Wheeler added.