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Two new construction projects to expand athletics and recreation on Eckerd College’s South Beach

By Robbyn Hopewell
Published September 6, 2023
Categories: About Eckerd, Alumni, Athletics, Construction, Student Life

Architectural rendering of the open-air pavilion with 115 photovoltaic solar panels

Crews broke ground near South Beach at Eckerd College in August to construct two long-awaited projects to enhance campus: the Tim Scovanner ’11 Pavilion and a full beach volleyball facility, yet to be named.

The Scovanner Pavilion—a 2,160-square-foot, concrete, open-air structure with 115 photovoltaic solar panels—will replace the wooden recreation pavilion located between Kappa Field and South Beach. The project began in earnest in 2020 after Doug, Mary and Jill Scovanner decided to contribute $1.3 million to honor their son and brother, respectively, Tim Scovanner ’11, who passed away in 2016. 

Architectural rendering of the new beach volleyball courts

“Tim’s Eckerd experience was shaped by its vital community—friends, faculty, classes and time spent on the waterfront,” the Scovanner family said. “It is our hope the pavilion will become a place of gathering, sharing, fun and support for all of the Eckerd community past, present and future.”

Work on the $2.3 million pavilion is expected to extend through the fall semester. Simultaneously, four new sand volleyball courts will be installed right next to the new shade structure. 

The new pavilion’s construction site is adjacent to the existing beach volleyball courts. Photo: Penh Alicandro ’22

Eckerd College Trustee Sue McDermott ’89—whose family hosts an annual golf tournament and personally supports annual and endowed golf scholarships in the name of her husband, Matt McDermott ’89, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11—felt the project was a great fit for the campus. 

She recalls visiting St. Petersburg’s downtown during the 2022 Reunion Weekend and seeing Eckerd College beach volleyball players competing in a tournament at the North Shore courts and thinking, How great would it be to have that vibe on campus? 

Eckerd team players practice on the two existing courts; four are needed to host competitions on campus.

Eckerd’s NCAA Division II team has been hosting tournaments off campus for at least six years because having only two courts limits the speed of competition and causes logistical challenges for organizers. 

McDermott reached out to Vice President for Advancement Matthew Bisset and Athletic Director Tom Ryan ’87 to get the ball rolling. She also visited the campuses of other beach volleyball powerhouses, Stanford and Texas Christian University, and noticed their courts had no bleachers, only plentiful grass for beach chairs and blankets. 

“Not only will the new venue benefit our Beach Volleyball program, but it will also be an asset for the campus,” Ryan says. “Beach volleyball is a fast-growing sport within the NCAA, and we are adding it as a Sunshine State Conference sport next year. We are excited for the possibility of hosting SSC Championships to showcase our waterfront campus.”

In addition to building four varsity courts, a baseball-stadium-style berm seating area, shower stations and live-streaming capabilities for competitions will complete the $600,000 project. 

“Especially with South Beach and Kappa Field right there, it fits in perfectly with the entire vibe of the area,” McDermott says. “It will be wonderful to see the beautiful and amazing gem of academic excellence that is our campus become more visible to the rest of the community. So many don’t have the opportunity to interact with our campus, and this will be another way.”

“This facility means so much to our program, and it really wouldn’t be possible without our alumnae who paved the way for Eckerd Beach Volleyball over the years,” says Michelle Piantadosi-Lima, the team’s head coach. “Our current players are thrilled to be able to host their games and tournaments on campus, and I know this will be a facility that highlights who we are at Eckerd.”

The facility is expected to open in January, just in time for the February start of the beach volleyball season. McDermott encourages alumni and friends of the College dedicated to enhancing the student experience to make a gift toward these projects.

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