City serves up 2 courts at Druid Hill Beach volleyball sites appeal to more than athletes

June 07, 1996|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF Sun staff reporters Peter Hermann and John Rivera contributed to this article.

At the rate things are going, Baltimore is going to need a new motto: The City That Spikes.

The U.S. Olympic beach volleyball trials at the Inner Harbor may be coming to an end this weekend, but the sport will live on in the city through the summer -- and beyond.

Yesterday, the city officially dedicated two permanent outdoor beach volleyball courts in Druid Hill Park.

Parkie, the giant squirrel who is the mascot of the Department of Recreation and Parks, belted the official first serve. Then four teams composed of city employees -- from the zoo, recreation and parks, and the personnel and fire departments -- took to the courts in the inaugural official games.

"This is unusual," said Emim Bey, who writes exams for the Department of Personnel, during a break in the match against the zoo employees. "But this will give kids something other than basketball to play. And you don't have to be 6-feet tall to play."

Baltimore is not the first East Coast city to re-create one of Southern California's favorite pastimes.

New York's Central Park has had two courts for some time, according to city recreation officials, who first began planning the Druid Hill courts last winter.

If the Druid Hill courts prove to be popular, more courts will be put up in other parks.

Officials expect the courts to be well-used.

"Volleyball is popular with all ages," said Zenobia McLendon, an assistant director of the department.

Since the courts were completed about 12 days ago, children and adults have been spotted there -- and not just for volleyball.

"It also becomes a great sandbox," said Leo Wolf, Druid Hill Park's acting manager. "Kids love to build sand castles, which is no problem. It just takes a few minutes to manicure [for volleyball]."

From the city's standpoint, one of the attractions of the courts is that they're cheap. The Druid Hill courts cost about $4,000 to set up, including the cost of 15 truckloads, or 180 tons, of sand, spread 18 inches deep, officials said.

After this weekend's Olympic Trials, city officials say they will get the sand from the four Inner Harbor courts.

Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier plans to put beach volleyball courts at Police Athletic League centers around Baltimore.

"Kids like it. It's sand," said police spokesman Sam Ringgold.

Pub Date: 6/07/96

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