Community-driven effort brings sand courts to PRHS, signaling a bright future for district athletics

PASO ROBLES — With driving efforts from the community, the Paso Robles High School (PRHS) girls beach volleyball team now has its own courts to call home. On Saturday, March 23, the team hosted a home tournament and ribbon-cutting for the new sand beach volleyball courts. 

“It’s actually improved team morale a lot,” explained head coach Vickie Werling on welcoming the new courts for the team’s second season.

Prior to the new sand courts, the team practiced on a grass field at Sherwood Park and traveled as far as Pismo Beach to play. Having grass as their main practicing turf proved to be challenging when they finally competed on a sand court.

Junior at PRHS and beach volleyball player Ava Friedling spoke to the team’s playing skills since getting the sand courts, “I feel like our confidence has gone not only up but also just our competition. I feel like we’re a more competitive team to other schools, whereas in the past couple years we haven’t been a challenging school to play. But now we have more experience and a really nice facility to up our game on that point.”

Approved quickly by the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) board of trustees in October 2024, the courts broke ground last November with the estimated cost to build at $120,000. What makes this project different from others, though, is the fact that it was spearheaded by the community and paid for by donations from Garrett Thiessen Construction, Advanced Concrete Construction, and The Bowman Family, along with program sponsorships from Borjon Auto Center, Paso Robles Waste & Recycle, Bearcat Boosters, and Paso Robles High School Athletic Department. The courts are located across the street from PRHS, between the District Office and the softball field.

PRJUSD Board President Nathan Williams praised the community effort that made the courts happen as quickly as it did. 

“Our Paso Robles community is amazing especially when we put our kids first, when we put our kids first and we put politics aside, we make amazing things happen,” he said. “And this is just one, one of those many, many examples of exactly that.”

Upkeep for the courts, however, will be paid for by the district or further donations if available. The district is also looking into providing beach volleyball programs for younger players or even availability for the court to be used for club teams.

The new sand courts are just the start of new athletic facilities coming to the district. With the long-awaited Aquatics Complex finally approved by the district this year, PRHS Athletic Director Michael Sauret and Williams agree this is a new era for the district’s athletics.

“I think it shows the importance of athletics,” said Sauret. “But you know, having been a teacher through COVID and a coach through COVID, we saw kids insulate themselves and shy away from being outside … We want our kids to get outside.

“I think it’s [the courts are] a physical, tangible representation of what the community can do. This community has, has always been a pillar of athletics.”

When hearing about the efforts being made to build the court, sophomore player Kailea Stoltzfus knew that they would be able to pull it off. 

“Everyone [said] I don’t think it’s going to happen … I’m like, just you wait like it’s going to work,” she said. “And they did and they pulled it together. And then we got these beautiful courts and it’s so amazing.” 

Williams and Suaret hope that the courts stand as a tangible example of what the district’s future holds.

“I think it’s an example of what can happen right now and what is happening,” said Sauret, referring to the nearing future of the Aquatics Complex that is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2025. 

“I think [the courts are] a reflection of what we [Paso Robles] could get back to. Paso has always been a homegrown community, and these are examples of what it was, what it can be, and what it can still aspire to be even more so,” added Williams.

Feature Image: The Paso Robles High School beach volleyball team celebrates its new sand courts with a ribbon cutting on March 23. Photo by Camille DeVaul