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Photo courtesy Spring Arbor University

(January 23, 2024 11:07 AM ET) Spring Arbor University has announced the addition of reserve volleyball and Esports to the college’s athletic offerings starting in the 2024-25 season.

“The addition of reserve volleyball makes perfect sense and will provide an increased opportunity for participation while also tapping into the fantastic leadership that Coach Martinez has displayed with our varsity team,” said SAU athletic director Jason Crist. “The strong culture that she has developed with our varsity athletes will have a broader impact and will allow her to be transformational on an even larger scale within our athletic department.”

Reserve volleyball and Esports are being added under the Spring Arbor umbrella as the department continues to strategically grow and increase the opportunities on campus.

Volleyball is the latest SAU athletic team to add a reserve program, joining baseball, basketball, bowling and soccer. Current SAU head volleyball coach Betsy Martinez and her staff will oversee the recruiting and operation of the program. Compared to the varsity, the reserve volleyball team will feature a slightly shorter season and fewer practice sessions, helping student-athletes transition into college life while building relationships through participation.

“We are thrilled to add Esports to our athletic department and to the Spring Arbor University campus,” said Athletic Director Jason Crist. “The opportunity to broaden our athletic offerings serves SAU in a variety of ways and will add a new and diverse group of student-athletes to our campus.”

Esports, also known as competitive gaming, has become overwhelmingly popular with students on college campuses and is one of the fastest growing sports across the country. Spring Arbor’s program will compete in multiple popular games, including Rocket League, League of Legends, and Super Smash Bros. in a dedicated Esports facility at the Kresge Student Center.

“The addition of a state-of-the-art Esports lab in the heart of campus at the Kresge Student Center will allow all of campus to attend and view competitions and create excitement for the team,” Crist added.

The addition of Esports aligns perfectly with the Spring Arbor Athletics strategic growth plan. Like other athletic teams at SAU, scholarships will be available to students joining the Esports program. The program will aim to start with a team of 8-12 and grow each year with a plan to reach a roster of 32 in year four. The program will also host limited open tryouts for current SAU students.

The Spring Arbor Esports program will join the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). Through this organization, student-athletes will compete online against students from other universities and colleges of all sizes in games. NACE is the leading collegiate esports governing body with more than 200 schools and over 5,000 student-athletes from across the NAIA, all three divisions of the NCAA, and junior-college landscape.

The targeted start of competition is Fall of 2024 with a search for the program’s first head coach underway. Recruiting will also begin right away, and interested participants should visit saucougars.com/recruits and complete the Esports Recruit Information Form.

More information regarding SAU reserve volleyball will be available at saucougars.com in the coming months. For questions or to express interest in the reserve program, please contact Betsy Martinez at elizabeth.martinez2@arbor.edu.

 The addition of reserve volleyball and Esports brings the total number of varsity sport programs offered by the University to 22.

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