A new gymnasium to meet the spike in the growth of volleyball in Lebanon County is coming soon to the Palmyra area.
In an exclusive interview with LebTown, Prevail Volleyball owner Clark Sheaffer said the construction of a 14,500-square-foot facility, with a total of 12,000-square-feet of playing space, will help address the lack of available indoor facilities for local volleyball enthusiasts.
The facility, which is named Prevail, will include four practice courts, three competitive-, or tournament-sized, volleyball courts, a workout area, offices, a concession stand, and restroom facilities.
“Girls volleyball is the most popular sport in the nation right now and it is going to continue to explode,” said Sheaffer, who is the head coach of the girls and boys volleyball teams in the Palmyra School District. “Once a kid starts to play volleyball, it’s such a unique sport that they want to stick with it and keep playing it for the rest of their lives.”
Sheaffer said it’s still too early to provide certain details on the construction project, including overall costs. He noted Prevail Volleyball has an anonymous benefactor who is financing construction costs contingent on the organization signing a 10-year lease agreement. The company that is financing the construction project wishes, for now, to remain anonymous, according to Sheaffer.
Sheaffer also noted that the building, which is tentatively scheduled to open no later than the beginning of the club season in October, is being built next door to the In The Net Sports Complex, located on Airport Road in the 110-acre Flightplan Sports Complex in South Londonderry Township.
While the state-of-the-art facility will primarily be used for volleyball, Sheaffer noted that the space will have many other dedicated uses throughout the year.
“This modern facility is exclusive to the Prevail Volleyball Club throughout the boys and girls club season, which runs October through May,” Sheaffer said. “It will, however, have many other uses, and we envision it becoming a community center for Lebanon County residents.”
Sheaffer said there’s been discussions about Prevail serving as a community center during the day for senior citizens activities and other events outside the club volleyball season. Basketball nets will be erected for youth basketball leagues and adult recreational volleyball leagues will also have a home at Prevail.
“We are mainly focusing on volleyball to be respectful of In The Net and the activities they provide at their facility, which will be literally 150 feet from our building,” Sheaffer said. “We also want to continue doing what we already do well [volleyball] and stay with that.”
To say the Prevail league and local high school volleyball teams are “doing well” would be a huge understatement. The Prevail teams are among the state’s most highly-rated club teams and the Palmyra girls volleyball program won their first-ever PIAA 3A state title last November in a nail-biting final game.
“The reason our club exploded is because we had some really good teams,” Sheaffer said, “and when you have teams that are that good, you’ll have players from other counties who want to come and play on those good teams.”
Once the new gym opens, there may be opportunities for large-scale volleyball tournaments through a collaboration between Flightplan’s other sport complex tenants, In The Net and Klick Lewis Arena, home to ice skating.
“I have talked to [In The Net’s] Chad Weaver about that and if we outgrow our facility we have the possibility of using both facilities,” Sheaffer said. “Klick Lewis has three ice skating rinks there that we could also use by putting down a floor. You’d have to put down a floor for both In The Net and the ice skating rinks, but having a large volleyball tournament is something that could be done.”
For now, Sheaffer is content getting construction finished, the building outfitted with nets and other needed gear and ready to open its doors to Prevail players this fall. Much more must still be done between now and then though — especially with COVID-19 still impacting indoor activities.
Construction fell behind schedule by six weeks following the state’s shutdown following the onset of the coronavirus in mid-March, Sheaffer added.
“Prevail will have hand-washing and hand-sanitizer stations around the complex, each player’s temperature will be taken before they are allowed to enter the building, ultraviolet lights that kill bacteria will be installed, and we will have a modern air conditioning filtration system,” Sheaffer said. “Coaches will be required to wear face coverings and we will strictly follow state and federal guidelines concerning COVID-19.”
Once the doors open, Sheaffer expects the Prevail facility to be a hit — especially since the Prevail Volleyball organization has never had a gymnasium to call home.
“A lot of the kids and their parents are excited that this place is going to happen because they will now have a place of their own to play volleyball,” Sheaffer said. “Not only will it meet Prevail’s needs but we look forward to it becoming a center for various community activities.”
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