Whether Arizona sand volleyball players are competing at Jimenez Field on their home turf or in the Hawaii Tournament in Honolulu, family members are there to support them.
Arizona’s newest varsity sport allows fans to sit alongside the action in lawn chairs and on blankets.
“It is wonderful for this sport, when crowds aren’t as big as a basketball game or a football game, that they know they are at least going to have groups of supporters coming with family and friends,” said Ken Hosto, father of Austin Hosto, the sand volleyball team’s student manager.
Ken Hosto and his wife Raynie Hosto attended the sand volleyball matches in part to watch junior Rachel Rhoades, who is their son’s girlfriend.
Family members also cheered on players whose families were unable to attend each tournament. Steve Arizobal, father of junior Taylor Arizobal, said that offering support to every Wildcat is important.
“We bounce between the games,” Steve Arizobal said. “If we are done with our [daughter’s] game, we have to go to the other courts to support the girls because some of their parents are not here.”
Junior Madi Kingdon’s mother, Martha Kingdon, has yet to miss a tournament this semester.
“I don’t just support my daughter,” Martha Kingdon said. “I support all the girls. … They are like my kids when I am on the road.”
Madi Kingdon said she sees her mother as being fully invested in the team.
“She is kind of like the team mom in a way,” Madi Kingdon said.
This support comes at a cost. Martha Kingdon and Steve Arizobal estimate that they spend around $5,000 to $7,000 a year on travel to the tournaments. These expenses include flights and gas money, taking the team to dinner occasionally and hotel rooms.
“Any [student] playing Division I, you want to be there,” said Steve Seiber, the father of freshman sand volleyball player Sarah Seiber.
The motivation to support their children brought many parents to Honolulu for the Hawaii Tournament. Traveling with the team to the islands brought their total annual travel expenditures to about $10,000, Martha Kingdon estimated.
“It is nice having [my parents] there to support me in my first year of college volleyball,” Sarah Seiber said.
Sarah Seiber said she was impressed with the fan support the Wildcats had in Arizona’s first season fielding a sand volleyball team.
“We have had a really good turnout of fans for our first year,” Sarah Seiber said. “I was surprised by how many people know about it.”
As Arizona’s newest athletic program continues to grow, the players’ families are expected to continue to lead the fan base.
Cathy Seiber, Sarah Seiber’s mother, said she will continue to attend every tournament because the sand volleyball players are pioneers of the sport.
“We are supporting something brand new that we think is going to be huge,” Cathy Seiber said.
—Follow Savannah Douglas @SavannahHiccups