Orofino High volleyball players Hanna Johnson and Mylie Zenner (far side of court) practice on the sand court with teammates Rilee Diffin and Brynn Hanna.

The City of Orofino received a Community Transformation Grant from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health to increase children’s access to physical activity and healthy foods.

One of the city’s goals from that grant was to enhance the city park, which already includes a splash pad, playground and a walking path along the Clearwater River.

One of the projects funded by the Community Transformation Grant was the installation of a sand volleyball court in the park, giving kids another place to be active and play.

The new sand court is just another positive option for Orofino High School volleyball players Rilee Diffin, Brynn Hanna, Hanna Johnson and Mylie Zenner. The teenagers are extremely active in sports and recreation.

“We stay busy,” Zenner said while taking a break from playing with her teammates in the park. “We play sports (volleyball, basketball and softball), ride four-wheelers and motorcycles.”

From a volleyball perspective, the sand court allows them to play outside and with fewer teammates present. Traditional volleyball has six players on the court at a time, and the outdoor sand game is two per side. While the two games have different elements of strategy, there are similar skills used.

“It’s nice to get more touches and reps, and you really have to talk more because there are only two of us out here at the same time,” Diffin said.

The court is a welcome addition to the park for Orofino High volleyball coach Heidi Summers.

“The more you play, the better you get at a younger age,” she said. “I see having this available for anyone to use will help them better their game.”

She also has a few ideas for her team and the community to make use of the new court.

“To change up the repetitive first two weeks of practice, we may do a team bonding practice or have a sand tournament,” she said. “Once school starts, we may utilize a Friday or two and open it up to elementary age kids to come play with the high school players.

“This will be a good way to expose kids to the sport and the sand court and bring a fun interaction between the community and players.”