In Nags Head, a net gain for beach volleyball

By on May 20, 2023

Mark Welch’s campaign to help revive a once-popular OBX sport

A beach volleyball contest at Atlantis in the OBX sport’s heyday in the 80’s. (Photo courtesy of Bobby Sanders)

At its May 3 meeting, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners announced that the town would install two beach volleyball courts at Satterfield Landing, adjacent to the existing dog and recreation park. According to Town Manager Andy Garman, the two new public beach volleyball courts, along with a few new pickleball courts, should be ready by the fall.

That decision followed months of persistent efforts by Mark Welch, a local business owner and beach volleyball coach who has been pushing to address the lack of practice spaces for young beach volleyball players in a community that once had a proud tradition with the sport.

“We have a hundred-mile stretch of beach, and we have one beach volleyball court,” Welch said, noting that such scarcity is very rare for a beach community, where you can usually find courts stretched along the sand.

After playing beach volleyball on the Outer Banks and competing in tournaments across the country for the last 40 years, Welch held two clinics at Jarvisburg Elementary and the Dare County Recreation Center last winter. Each clinic had more than 50 kids sign up. After that, he said, parents began approaching Welch, expressing their kids’ desire to continue learning the sport after not making their school volleyball teams. The big problem was a lack of facilities.

In the public comment period at the April 5 Nags Head Board of Commissioners meeting, Welch spoke to that issue.

“If kids go play basketball and they don’t make the team, they have plenty of areas to go play basketball—at the rec centers, outside, [the] same with soccer, same with football, same with baseball,” he stated. “There are no public places for the tourists to play or people to play beach volleyball besides Bonnett Street, and unfortunately that’s built into the side of a hill.”

Welch also cited the absence of a facility capable of hosting games for high school club teams. Although Dare County’s high schools have beach volleyball club teams, they lack a suitable venue for hosting tournaments. While the schools have small courts, they are only enough for one game at a time, and tournaments require a minimum of two courts. It is girls who make up the roster of the high school club beach volleyball teams and local traveling squads, but Welch hopes boys will also play at the new public courts.

Despite the lack of courts now, back in the late 80s and early 90s, beach volleyball was in its heyday – an integral part of the Outer Banks social and sports landscape. There was the restaurant league at the historic Atlantis, and teams from classic restaurants like Owens and A Restaurant by George, and even the crabbers of Wanchese, would battle it out on the courts and spend the rest of the night socializing.

There were the Sunday tournaments at the Atlantis, which drew crowds from all over the East Coast to play and watch. There were various other tournaments over the years as well, including the classic Pebble Beach Motel in Nags Head. There was even talk at the time of an Outer Banks Volleyball Association being formed with businesses across the Outer Banks holding organized tournaments throughout the summer.

“It was just the camaraderie, you know, the competition was good, but then it was…people in their 20s and 30s and you get together after and it’s just a really a very healthy outdoor activity. It was a really good vibe,” said Welch. “And then, it kind of just fell off.”

The only remnant from that time is the volleyball court that still stands in the back yard of Welch’s brother’s restaurant, Tortugas’ Lie. Welch and his brother Richard both fell in love with the sport and competed together when they moved to the Outer Banks in the 70s. They still hold all kinds of annual tournaments with participants who come from all over the country. They’ve even had a few beach volleyball Olympians grace their court.

Last fall, Welch found out that the local traveling girls beach volleyball team needed a place to practice. But Tortugas’ Lie didn’t have the proper equipment or netting to host them. He started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a new netting system at that site. He raised $4,000 in eight hours, and most of the donations were from the loyal tourists who have come to see the courts at Tortugas’ as an integral part of their vacations.

Welch is also planning to start an event each Sunday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. for the high school girls’ clubs where participants will get to play a Queen of the Court Competition as a way for the girls to compete against each other and improve their skills. Middle schools will either be included in the event or they will hold a separate training for them. Welch also recently donated a professional netting system for the Manteo club’s court, with his coaching company Coastal Volleyball and Hatchell Concrete donating the sand.

Bob Sanders, Richard Welch’s co-owner at Tortugas’ Lie is one of the Nags Head Commissioners who approved the new courts at the Satterfield Park. Welch has been working closely with Town Manager Garman to help them figure out the logistics. He even volunteered to install the nets himself.

“Mark was the person who brought this forward to us. He put us in touch with others who are interested in the sport and explained that several of the Dare County schools have beach volleyball teams. He also has expertise in court design and helped us gather cost information. It is certainly reasonable from a cost perspective,” said Garman. “I guess you could say Mark’s request set this plan in motion.”

As for Welch’s motivation, he said simply that, “I just think it’s cool seeing girls out there playing a sport that I’ve loved and got a lot out of it. I mean, it’s just a really great sport.”

 


BIDDER PRE-QUALIFICATION REQUEST:

Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


 


Sussex Development is soliciting bids to turnkey supply and install FF&E for the new Tulls Creek Elementary School, 125 Campus Drive, Moyock, NC27929. This project is a new ground-up 2-story, Pre-K thru 5th grade school, approximately 118,000 square feet. Bid documents may be obtained through Christopher West Interiors LLC. Request bid documents via email to interiors@cwiusa.com. Pre-Bid RFIs will be accepted via email until Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 5:00PM EST. Pricing proposals are due Wednesday, August 14, 2024 by 5:00PM EST. All bids and inquires to be sent to interiors@cwiusa.com. Certified NC Hub, MBE, WBE, DBE, SBE are highly encouraged to participate. Sussex Development is an EOE and maintains a drug-free workplace.


 



Comments

  • Steven

    Be honest, it’s ladies volleyball we want to see..

    Sunday, May 21 @ 6:06 am
  • surf123

    The tourism board should be paying for this. No matter though as it is a great addition of another recreational activity.

    Sunday, May 21 @ 9:54 am
  • Travis

    Tortuga’s has been really great about keeping and maintaining their courts. One of the few places to play on the beach, and that’s a shame. I’d guess most of the accesses are generally too small to have volleyball courts. And I agree with Surf123…this is something the tourist board should be investing in.

    Sunday, May 21 @ 9:35 pm
  • Justin

    Maybe while they’re installing this sand pile they’ll notice the soccer fields(aka cow pasture) that we give our youth to play on. We need atleast 10 new soccer fields but let’s add a sand pit. Smh Plenty of sand to play in across the highway.

    Thursday, May 25 @ 5:55 am
  • Will

    Could the town look into expanding parking at the Satterfield complex and group that effort into the volleyball court development? People are already parking on the street to attend events at the complex.

    Friday, Jun 2 @ 7:46 am