Wheatley speaking

SUN PHOTO BY JUSTIN FENNELL

Head volleyball coach Brian Wheatley speaks during the first Venice Volleyball Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday morning. Fans enjoyed free T-shirts, breakfast served by players and interactions with the team and coaches.

By VINNIE PORTELL

Sports Editor

The Venice girls volleyball team receives some of the best support of area high schools, routinely drawing hundreds of spectators to their home matches.

So when Lady Indians coach Brian Wheatley saw a college football program host a “Ladies Day Clinic,” he got an idea: to host a day to make fans feel more welcome and help them understand the game better.

Roughly 80 people came out to the first Venice Volleyball Fan Appreciation Day this past Saturday, offered to fans 35 or older free of charge.

“I’m always trying to think of new ways to get the community involved,” Wheatley said. “I know we have people who come in and are confused with calls, so I wanted to help them learn the game a little better and meet our new team.”

Fans were treated to breakfast served by the players, watched some 6-on-6 scrimmages amongst the team and had a Q&A session with the coaching staff.

Venice’s fan base — which almost always dwarfs those of other area schools — comes out in droves for nearly every event Wheatley and the team hosts, including roughly 100 people for last month’s alumni game.

“When they come support us for our games, that’s a service to us, so we wanted to provide a service for them as well. I thought it went really well. I enjoyed it. There’s a good chance we’ll do this again.”

After losing 10 seniors to graduation this past spring, fans were able to meet several of the new Lady Indians who will represent the team when the 2019 year opens with two preseason home matches on Aug. 13 and Aug. 15.

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