It’s time to spring forward, people! Daylight savings has started, and there’s a beach in downtown Atlanta!
Yes, there’s a beach, and yes, this is not a drill. Don’t believe me?
Take a trip to 149 Piedmont Ave. Suddenly, you find yourself amongst Georgia State’s own Beach Volleyball Complex.
Alright, time to get the facts straight. There’s no water on this beach or shoreline, but let’s be honest, who needs water when you can watch the 13th ranked GSU Beach Volleyball Team dominate other schools on your campus!
It doesn’t get better than that. GSU BVB is the highlight of GSU at the moment, and it’s time students come together as a collective to support this team on their journey to a national championship.
It all starts with the experienced coaching led by Head Coach Beth Van Fleet and Assistant Coach Tiffany Creamer.
Beth Van Fleet and greatness go hand in hand. Coach Van Fleet played volleyball here at GSU from 1995 to 1998 and currently holds numerous records that still stand today.
She went on to play professionally and represented the United States in NORCECA competitions in Mexico and Guatemala City during her pro career. The love for the sport was always there, but surprisingly enough, the thought of coaching wasn’t always something Coach Van Fleet saw herself doing.
“I knew I didn’t want to become a college coach, but when beach volleyball came to Georgia State, I thought, ok, this is my kind of puzzle piece,” coach Van Fleet said.
“I always kept up with the indoor program here. I went to California and lived there for eight years, but every fall, I [wondered]: Oh, how’s the indoor team doing?
“What’s it looking like? Who’s coaching? Who’s on the team? So I always kept in touch and I always [connected] with the university, especially the indoor team.”
Coach Van Fleet and Tiffany Creamer have instilled such a winning attitude within this program that it’s impossible not to feel it as you step into the complex.
Each week players set aside three goals: a personal goal, an athletic goal and an academic goal.
“I don’t set the goals for the team. We think it is far more important if it comes from within,” Coach Van Fleet said.
The athletes have bought into the system and now sit nationally ranked.
The C-USA championships start Apr. 28 and end on Apr. 30 in Huntsville, AL. Following the conference tournament, the NCAA championships will take place May 6-8 in Gulf Shores, AL.
Although the national tournament has expanded from eight teams to 16 teams, the Panthers must win the tournament in Huntsville first, as winning will automatically qualify the team for the national tournament in May.
Senior Becky Tresham is grateful for the expansion but knows there is still work to do in order to win it all in May.
“We progressed a lot throughout the first and second tournament, and I can see our team making huge strides and progression,” Tresham said.
“In previous years, we’ve lost to Stetson and North Carolina, but we were able to beat them [this year]. We want to make it to the NCAA championship, and it’s nice that the tournament expanded to 16 teams this year.”
Senior Kelly Dorn has the tenure to remember when the national tournament was an eight-team format, so it’s safe to say she appreciates the expansion.
“With the expansion of the national tournament going from eight to 16, our goal is definitely [to get] to nationals,” said Dorn.
“We’re like right around the #13 rank, so that’s something we’re really striving for right there. I think [it would] mean everything to win a national championship.
“We’ve been working so hard every year, so the fact it’s actually within our scope would make all the work over the past four years worth it.”
This team is just full of talent. In February, seniors Eden Hawes and Maddy Delmonte were named to the Preseason All-Conference USA Beach Volleyball Team. Becky Tresham, originally from Brantford, Ontario maintains a spot on the Canadian women’s national team.
Not to mention, 14 members of this year’s team earned academic honors. The list of accolades they’ve collected could go on forever, but the greatness is already apparent.
The Panthers return to the Beach Complex on Apr. 8-9 for the ‘GSU Digging Duals’ tournament. Fans must show up in support as this will be the last time this team plays in the complex this season.
“It’s so incredible when we come out here and see people in the stands cheering for us,” said Coach Van Fleet.
“It creates such a cozy, festive and feisty home advantage for us. No matter what they’re doing, everybody wants to feel supported and feel like people are cheering for them. So when fans do show up for us, it’s such a cool experience for the team and the athletes. It really helps us feel connected with the university.”