There’s now beautiful, clean, deep soft sand for volleyball in the Goodland, and it’s not at the beach.
The picturesque four-court complex, located on the north end of Scott O’Leary Stadium, serves as a tribute to the late Samantha Wopat. She and her twin sister, Carly, led Dos Pueblos to back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Division 1 indoor volleyball finals and a championship in 2009. They both went on to play at Stanford. Samantha died during her sophomore year in 2012.
The sisters spent countless hours playing beach volleyball while growing up in Goleta.
Through the determination and perseverance of their mother, Kathy, the idea of creating the Twin Palms complex is now a reality.
“All the credit goes to Kathy for getting this going and seeing it through,” Dos Pueblos Principal Bill Woodard said. “Whenever she got a no, she said, ‘How can we turn it into a yes?’
“I’m just grateful to her because for generations this is going to be a tribute to her and her family and to the school. It’s going to be awesome.”
There is a symbol of love for her daughters drawn in the concrete border surrounding the courts — it’s two hearts with a “W” underneath.
“It’s a physical touchstone for me,” said Kathy Wopat, whose sons, Jackson and Eli, also starred in volleyball for the Chargers. Eli also played at Stanford, and Jackson played at UC San Diego and Hawaii.
She said the tremendous support she received from friends, community members, DP volleyball alumni, the DP administration, the Santa Barbara Unified School District and the City of Goleta made it possible to create the Twin Palms Beach Volleyball Courts.
“They made it happen without a doubt,” she said.
“It’s so gratifying,” Woodard said as he gazed over the complex from the newly paved entrance to O’Leary Stadium. “It’s so exciting to picture what is going to be happening here, hopefully in a little bit, with all the kids enjoying it.
“For the school, it’s going to be a celebration amidst what has been a tough year for us. To have this facility reopened and to have one of the premier high school beach volleyball facilities on the West Coast now, we’re going to really be able to celebrate this and have a lot of cool things happen here.”
The venue offers pristine, thrice-washed sand that is 12 inches deep and a great view of the Goleta foothills.
Presently, the nets are not up to play games because of health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the student athletes are using the sand courts for conditioning workouts.
Donations can still be made to Twin Palms Volleyball Courts. All donations higher than $500 will receive a tile on the facility’s donor wall.
As for the stadium entrance, Woodard said 325 yards of concrete was poured to cover the area that was mostly dirt.
The school’s grand plan is to make it a plaza that includes tables, umbrellas, a seating area, and custom-made sheds for concessions and apparel.
“We have this wonderful stadium, and this is where people can congregate during, after and before events,” Woodard said. “It’s going to be great for all the teams.”