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Adult leagues offer close-to-home recreation, exercise

Co-ed teams compete in the city’s first adult sand volleyball league playoffs. Star Gazette photos by Katrina Styx

In May, the city of Hastings added two new sand volleyball courts to Pioneer Park. The courts were the first of their kind in city parks, paid for through a $40,000 grant by A Healthier Hastings 4 All and Regina Hospital.

In their first season, the courts have earned plenty of positive comments.

“We’ve gotten really excellent feedback,” said Phil Vargas, Hastings sports and recreation coordinator.

The goal of the grant was to create new opportunities for adults to participate in outdoor physical activity, Vargas said, and the city has made sure the new courts got some adult use. The city organized an adult sand volleyball league this summer. The league is now in its final weeks, with teams working through a single-elimination tournament.

A total of 16 teams signed up, Vargas said. Since mid-May, the teams have been competing Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

The league season includes 10 regular season games and a single-elimination tournament. Most of this year’s 16 teams (11 co-ed and five women’s) are recreational, although each team has at least one or two competitive players.

The new sand volleyball courts are located inside the ice rink at Pioneer Park. Teams are self-organized and are sponsored by local businesses. The city charges a $260 fee per team to participate and provides all the equipment for the season. Vargas said that he can help individuals who want to join connect with established teams to find a spot in the league.

The major difference between indoor volleyball and sand volleyball, he said, is speed. Because of the soft footing sand provides, movement tends to be slowed down, he said. On an indoor court, players can typically jump a little higher and get more power behind their shots, too. Otherwise, there’s not much difference between the games, Vargas said.

The league is one of three adult recreation leagues the city manages. Along with sand volleyball, the city also has adult leagues for softball and soccer. There are a couple volunteer run indoor volleyball leagues as well, Vargas said.

Adult recreation leagues are a nice way for adults to be active within their own community, Vargas said.

“It gives adults in our community an opportunity to relieve some stress and get some exercise,” he said.

It’s also a way for the city to encourage adults who live here to stay here in their leisure time as well. Adult leagues provide adults who live here a chance to play somewhere close to home, Vargas said.

The sand courts’ location was based on multiple factors.

“We put a lot of thought into where these courts should be constructed,” Vargas said.

Veteran’s Park, Lions Park, Wallin Park and Pioneer Park were all in the running at first. Pioneer Park was selected for its available space in the outdoor hockey rink, which didn’t get used during the non-winter months; available lighting; and its highly visible, central location.

High visibility has already paid off. Vargas said he’s received several calls from people passing by who saw the leagues playing and wanted to know more. With the extra attention, he’s hoping to see the new league grow next year.

“We’ll definitely continue to have this next year,” he said.

His hope is to offer league play on more nights during the week and expand to men’s teams as well.

Anyone interested in participating in the league can learn more by contacting Vargas at 651-480-6181.

The sand volleyball courts have also been used this year for youth volleyball programs and are available for the public to use at their leisure. Net heights can be easily adjusted by sliding each end up or down, Vargas said.