Sand volleyball becomes a reality

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Nancy Reno was the Chicago Sun-Times player of the year in 1983 at Glenbard West and went on to a long career in beach volleyball, which included an appearance in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Now high school athletes will be able to represent their schools in summer sand volleyball tournaments.

At 6-foot-8, junior Lucas Rytel of Glenbrook South would be perfect for sand volleyball. The best 2-on-2 professional teams seem to feature a tall player than can block and hit with a smaller player that can pass from all over the court.

Rytel (right), a starter for GBS’ boys basketball team in the winter, does not play club volleyball. He started playing the sport in eighth grade at Springman Junior High.

Given an opportunity to play high school sand volleyball, Rytel said he would relish the opportunity. He already plays each summer at Gillson Park Beach in WIlmette and North Avenue Beach in Chicago.

“It would be a lot of fun. It definitely would be a change of pace. I would definitely play with two people,” Rytel said.

Now that the NCAA has approved sand volleyball for women in the spring, Brother Rice boys volleyball coach Paul Ickes is attempting to bring sand volleyball to the IHSA. Why not? The IHSA added boys bowling a few years ago. It became the first state high school association to garner headlines with a state bass fishing tournament and boys and girls lacrosse is coming in next season.

Just one note: The NCAA is calling the beach volleyball game “sand” volleyball, presumably to phase out the bikini image that has made it a marquee sport during the Summer Olympics.

Though current IHSA by-laws are interfering with Ickes’ plans to add sand volleyball as an IHSA sport — the IHSA ruled the sand game was too similar to the girls indoor game to add the sport in the fall — Ickes has pressed on with planned tournaments this summer at Circle Park in Evergreen Park and he said St. Patrick has agreed to host another tournament.

“It’s basically a go. Schools are in the process of forming teams,” Ickes said. “We have a meeting with any interested kids at Brother Rice next Wednesday.”

The tournament is 2-on-2. Any high school players — boys or girls — that wish to form teams and compete in the Brother Rice tournament can contact Ickes at Sand volleyball tournaments are open to both recent graduates and incoming freshmen, Ickes said. Illinois would become the first state to hold high school sand volleyball tournaments. In California, sand volleyball exists between private clubs, according to Ickes.

Ickes said the tournaments would not begin until after July 12, well after club volleyball’s Junior Nationals have ended for both boys and girls.

The AVCA, the national volleyball coaches’ association, will post a story on Ickes’ sand volleyball aspirations in an upcoming edition on its Web site.

“A lot of people on the national level are looking at this. They hope we become the first to adopt it,” Ickes said.

For more information on Brother Rice adding sand volleyball as a sport, go to

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