Eastern Kentucky University has announced the addition of beach volleyball to its 15 other varsity sports and has named volleyball assistant coach Johnna Fouch as the interim head coach.

This is the first sport EKU has added since women’s soccer in 2005.

“Eastern Kentucky University is very pleased to announce the addition of beach volleyball to our athletics program,” Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller stated. “Beach volleyball is an emerging sport across the nation, and within the Ohio Valley Conference. Beach volleyball will be an exciting sport for our fans, and will offer increased opportunities to female student-athletes. I especially appreciate Johnna’s willingness to serve in this position during a time of transition within our volleyball program.”

Beach volleyball (formerly known as sand) is the fastest growing NCAA sport in history, going from 15 programs in 2011-12 to 75 for the 2018-19 season. Its season, which is a minimum of eight and a maximum of 16 dates, begins March 1 and the NCAA Championships are held the first week of May.

Beach teams consist of five pairs of players. The first team to win three of five matches is the winner.

Eastern Kentucky joins four other Division I institutions in the addition this season: University of California – Davis, Southern Mississippi, North Alabama and the University of Tennessee at Martin. Currently four other Ohio Valley Conference schools sponsor the sport: Tennessee-Martin, Jacksonville State, Morehead State and Austin Peay.

In 2017-18 there were 507 beach crossover student-athletes with an additional 569 beach student-athletes.

“First and foremost, I am thrilled that we are adding a beach volleyball program at EKU,” Fouch said. “Beach will help us grow and elevate our indoor program. After serving as volleyball’s assistant coach for five years and playing collegiately at San Diego State I have learned a lot of valuable things I will take into this new role. Additionally, growing up in California, I have been around and played beach volleyball my entire life. I would like to thank Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller and beach volleyball administrator Kirk Moats for entrusting me to lead and lay the foundation for this new program.”

Fouch was promoted to a full time assistant in August 2015 after serving a year as a graduate assistant. The Redlands, California native was a two-time Mountain West All-Conference selection at San Diego State and was chosen as the league’s setter of the year twice. Following her junior campaign, Fouch earned honorable mention All-American honors and was an All-West Region selection by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).

The addition of this program has minimal expenses and adds no new staff.  There will be no additional scholarship costs for 2018-19. As the program develops, future scholarship funding will be evaluated.

“We look forward to growing this program at EKU and offering a new experience for our student athletes and our fans,” Lochmueller said. “We are fortunate to have the foundation and resources within our current volleyball roster, personnel and facilities that will make this program an easy startup with incredible growth potential for Colonel athletics.”

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