This is it – game point. The young girl gives her father (and teammate) an encouraging nod and as he readies his serve. The smack of hand on leather splits the silence above the hushed crowd. The forward spinning ball barely clears the net before dropping two feet in front of the opposing passer who lunges forward, hand flattened for a textbook-perfect pancake while his teammate then spikes the ball back over the net.

Diving into the warm sand, the father catches the dig and jumps, ready to spike his daughter’s coming set, but seeing an opportunity to surprise, she simply tips the ball softly, barely placing it over the net where it drops untouched to the sand. The crowd erupts in loud cheers as father and daughter exchange victorious high-fives, basking in the glory of the win at The Beach at Craig Ranch.

Sand (or beach) volleyball is spiking in popularity. While its sister sport, hardcourt indoor volleyball, has been a beloved pastime for many years, outdoor beach volleyball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Beyond its recreational role, beach volleyball has grown in many serious, athletic circles and was established as an official medaling event in the 1996 Summer Olympics.

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This year, it is destined to become an NCAA championship sport as over 40 university teams are competing across the United States. It is recognized by the NCAA Division I and II schools as an emerging sport for women and is widely assumed that it will become a full-fledged NCAA championship sport as early as 2016 or 2017.

Closer to home, beach volleyball has gained popularity with junior and high school girls, as they are migrating to the sport in hopes of improving their indoor game while branching out to participate in a fun, outdoor sport. Aligning perfectly with Susan Hoelting’s mission to grow the game of sand volleyball and provide increased youth leagues, The Beach at Craig Ranch, a premier beach sports facility located in McKinney, was created to encourage the game while offering family-friendly fun and a get-fit environment.

“It has always been my dream to open a sand volleyball facility,” explains Susan Hoelting, owner of The Beach. “As a young girl, it was my first love, and I wanted my children to be able to experience it. Sand volleyball instills confidence and encourages self-management when playing the game, and when I looked around at various venues in the Dallas area to play with my own children, I found them to be more bar-focused instead of sports-oriented. I wanted a fun environment that was focused on volleyball while offering a clean, family-friendly environment.”

 

 
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Grab a snack or have a picnic between games in sun or shade.

Hoelting’s entrepreneurial spirit got the best of her and she opened The Beach in 2010 after being a partner for many years in several oil and gas related businesses. She chose McKinney because of the healthy living message from the City and Mayor Brian Loughmiller as well the vast development opportunities with acreage. “Initially, I was considering a much smaller plot of land in a different city, but when I visited Craig Ranch in McKinney, I just knew it was the right location. Five acres were available for purchase, and I envisioned a large space with various activities, so I knew we’d have the room to grow.”

The property is adjacent to a pond, which adds to the beach theme, and McKinney offers a perpetual breeze even during the hot Texas summers. While The Beach encourages membership plans, you do not have to be a member to play. Offering 12 pristine sand courts, visitors can enjoy volleyball, sand tennis and sand soccer. Tournaments, clinics, parties, open-play and corporate team-building are just a handful of the other activities offered.

The Beach also provides an indoor, air-conditioned restaurant, Bermuda’s Grill & Bar, as well as the Pro Shop with on-site retail products. Construction has also begun on four hardfloor volleyball courts, which is scheduled for completion in September of this year.

“One of my favorite leagues is the adult-child league because I so love watching a dad or mom bond with his or her daughter or son,” adds Hoelting. “Playing with my own daughters, I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to see family-bonding. I just love to see it in action. Plus, it teaches good sportsmanship on the court, and those lessons are priceless.”

Currently in its fourth year of operation, The Beach is experiencing steady growth as word has spread about the atmosphere and activities. While volleyball is the featured sport at The Beach, they also cater to other needs, including Zumba® Beach parties. These are fun, high-energy, easy-to-follow group exercise and dance routines. Focusing more on toning rather than dancing, the response to the Zumba® Beach parties has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Our goal at The Beach is to make getting fit fun, and we want everyone to be able to participate. We like to think of ourselves as a big backyard with lots of space for our activities. Whether you’re single, married, have a family, are older or younger – we just want you out there. Enjoy yourself. It’s what we’re all about.”

For more information about The Beach at Craig Ranch, visit thebeachatcr.com.

 

About the author: Carolyn Cameron is a freelance writer and marketing/social media professional. Contact her at cameronviolet@gmail.com.