EUSTIS, Fla. – The Florida Region of USA Volleyball is proud to announce that Hickory Point Beach in Tavares, Fla., has been designated by World ParaVolley to be the first Beach ParaVolley (BPV) Development Center in the world.
This is an important development for the progress of beach ParaVolley, which is striving to be included in the LA 2028 Paralympic Games. Hickory Point Beach will serve as a center for upcoming competitions, events, clinics, camps and training/education opportunities for athletes, coaches and officials.
“History has been created with the World ParaVolley Hickory Point Beach Development Centre being approved by the Board. This is the first beach ParaVolley development center and will serve as a focus for training, development and events in the future as we strive to promote beach ParaVolley as an important discipline of World ParaVolley,” said Dr. Stephen Giugni OAM, WPV Assistant Sport Director (Beach).
Chris Seilkop, Chair of the WPV Beach Commission, said, “I am very pleased that the center has been approved and I look forward to the many benefits that will flow for the athletes as we work toward ensuring that beach ParaVolley will be on the sport program for LA2028.”
Joe Campbell, President for ParaVolley Pan America, said, “I am thrilled that the Hickory Point Beach Sand Volleyball Complex has been approved as the first World ParaVolley (WPV) Beach ParaVolley development center. When I visited this magnificent venue in July 2019, I knew it provided the amenities to be a WPV development center. Now this vision is a reality, and I know it will play a vital role in catapulting our athletes forward in making Beach ParaVolley a discipline for the LA2028 Paralympic Games. This center will help in both athlete development, as well as competitions for Team USA, the Pan America Zone and worldwide international events. My hat’s off to the USA Volleyball Florida Region as well as all that helped and continue to help in the development and operations of this facility.”
Hickory Point Beach first opened in July 2014 through a unique public‐private partnership with Lake County, Fla., through its Tourism Development Tax program. It opened with 21 professional-grade courts and lights. In 2019, the county added a 4,000-square-foot athletic center to support the numerous regional, national and international events that take place at the complex each year.
This year, the county is adding a grand entrance along with wheelchair-grade sidewalks to accommodate BPV athletes. Since opening, the complex has welcomed guests and competitors from more than 100 cities in Florida, 25 U.S. states and 15 countries.
Executive Director for Lake County’s Economic Growth Office, Brandon Matulka, commented, “This designation showcases Hickory Point Beach’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, and we could not be prouder to have this state‐of‐the‐art facility right here in Lake County. We are excited for the many opportunities the center will create for adaptive athletes and the beach ParaVolley community,” said Steve Bishop, executive director/president of the Florida Region of USA Volleyball. “On behalf of our members, staff and board of directors, we are honored to receive this designation from World ParaVolley for Hickory Point Beach. When we set out on this journey to build a large‐scale sand volleyball complex back in 2004, there were very few in existence and many questioned why we would want such a complex in the middle of a state surrounded by beaches. It seemed like the right thing to do for our sport at the time and after 10 years of planning and another seven years of hosting events it has proven to be a good hunch. The venue is reported to have generated $11M in economic impact for the area.
“We could not have gotten to this point without the support of many others. Lake County believed in our vision and provided the financial support. Our board of directors allowed us to tackle an endeavor never before attempted by a USAV region. The Norelli Family Foundation has been the wind in our sails lately by funding a $100,000 BPV grant to help move this vision forward. All of these, along with the WPV designation puts us on course to helping make BPV a reality at the LA2028 Paralympics. That will be the payoff for everyone involved!”