Daren Bolton Spearheads Effort to Make Beach Volleyball a High School Sanctioned Sport
By Space Coast Daily // April 22, 2019
2019 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame) – It’s hard to imagine but many local volleyball and beach volleyball players owe a debt of gratitude to Maverick, Goose, Iceman and Slider, nicknames of characters in the 1986 blockbuster film, Top Gun.
For Satellite High’s Daren Bolton, the movie didn’t inspire him to want to fly F-14’s, instead, a famous scene with stars Tom Cruise, Ed Norton and Val Kilmer playing beach volleyball inspired Bolton to take up the sport, and Brevard County is glad he did.
Bolton’s coaching career began after some stints of coaching club soccer for his daughter Kaylee’s team but his calling and passion came in 2005 when Kaylee showed interest in volleyball.
After attending his first club orientation meeting and seeing how many young girls were interested in the sport, Bolton contacted Cape Coast Club Director Connie Denaburg to see how he could help.
He then coached several age groups and experience levels and sometimes even coached two teams at a time.
While Bolton loved the indoor game, his passion was playing it on the beach and in 2007 established the beach program for the club, which became one of the first clubs in the country to develop junior beach volleyball players.
Bolton also coached high school volleyball and accepted his first job at Rockledge High where Bonita Holland and Tony Hines hired him to help rebuild the program. Holland molded and mentored Bolton, and in 2010, the Raiders were Cape Coast Conference Champions.
He stayed for eight years and only left so he could spend more time with his sister Sharon, who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.
However, his love for playing in the sand was always top of mind and he spent more than 10 years trying to get beach volleyball recognized as an officially sanctioned high school sport.
The powers that be weren’t as enthusiastic as Bolton was about the sport.
“One ‘no’ was met with another ‘no,’ and then once I heard ‘yes’ the hurdles that needed to be climbed were worse than hearing ‘no’ at times,” said Bolton.
Bolton didn’t give up and knew the growing popularity of the outdoor version of volleyball was his ace in the hole. In fact, it’s Bolton that grew the spot almost single-handedly.
During his first year of club beach volleyball in 2007, there were just 12 players. By 2010, the club had 120, with many more on a waiting list.
In 2017 Bolton saw part of his dream realized as the Sunshine State Athletic Conference and the Florida Region of USA Volleyball partnered to initiate the first official girl’s high school-sanctioned beach volleyball league in Florida.
Finally, in 2018, Satellite and Merritt Island became members of the Sunshine State Athletic Conference in the Atlantic-Southeast Division, along with Vero Beach in high school-sanctioned beach volleyball.
Bolton’s impact on beach volleyball in Brevard County and the state is immeasurable. Space Coast area beach volleyball players have received scholarships to powerhouse schools like UCLA, LSU, University of South Carolina, FAU and Stetson to play the outdoor game.
Bolton’s sacrifice to grow the sport of beach has been enormous, coaching six to seven days and nights a week, but he says it is well worth the effort.
“The success of the players, on and off the court and the growth of the beach volleyball gives me great satisfaction,” said Bolton.”
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