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Nov. 12, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina beach volleyball program announced Thursday that it will rename its facility Wheeler Beach, in honor of the generosity of Jon and Kim Wheeler. Opened in 2014, the five-court facility was the first in the SEC and is among the finest in all of collegiate beach volleyball.

“The Wheeler family has come in right from the get-go to help build the foundation and development of this program, head coach Moritz Moritz said. “I think the influence that they have had has just been tremendous, and we are grateful for everything they have done and continue to do for our program.”

The relationship began thanks in part to the on-court contributions of Paige Wheeler, who started her Gamecock career with the indoor volleyball program and moved to the beach in its first season of existence in 2014. Today, she serves as a volunteer assistant coach.

Paige’s mother, Kim, helped develop beach volleyball in her hometown of Virginia Beach and was part of a group that toured the country looking at other beach venues leading up to the construction of Carolina’s new facility.

“We are honored to play a part in providing beach volleyball student-athletes the opportunity to compete and train in one of the finest facilities in the country,” Kim Wheeler said. “Being involved in the launch of this program has been tremendously rewarding and we look forward to taking part in its future successes.”

A wrought-iron gate spanning the entrances to Wheeler Beach will now bear the family’s name.

“It’s an appropriate name for our facility, the Wheelers have always been part of the process,” said Judy Van Horn, South Carolina’s Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator. “They’re great people, they’re very supportive and they help make things happen. The gate will be the jewel in the crown of the venue, and the family’s vision, support and generosity are why we have it today.”

The naming of the venue has a special importance for Coach Moritz, who has worked with the Wheelers since the early planning stages, taking an idea and turning it into a model for others in the NCAA’s fastest-growing sport.

“This program today is a product of great teamwork and a singular passion for the sport of beach volleyball,” he said. “It takes a special kind of relationship to follow through with a plan like this, every program should be so lucky to have people like the Wheelers as supporters.”

There will be a formal dedication made during the team’s first weekend of home competition in March of 2016.