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  • Writer's pictureMatt Colville

Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex – Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles



Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex Hattiesburg, MS 39406



Year Opened: 2019

Capacity: 300

 

Sandy Eagles to the Top

Beach volleyball is the NCAA's newest officially sanctioned sport, with the first year of sponsorship beginning during the Spring 2016 season – as of the 2024 season there are 68 NCAA Division 1 schools that sponsor beach volleyball.


Southern Miss is one of these teams, with their first year of the sport on campus beginning in 2019. Entering the 2024 season the Sand Eagles haven't had that much success, with only an overall record of 112-198 after five seasons. For the first four seasons the Sand Eagles competed in C-USA, but in 2022 Southern Miss began the transition to move all sports to the Sun Belt Conference.

 

Food and Beverage   2

There is one small snack stand on the far end of the complex, which just offers the basics, as there is no grill or anything to cook hamburgers and hot dogs on, hence you are stuck with the basics of candy, peanuts, and popcorn. Bottled Coca-Cola products are available as well, but the score is higher for this section because alcohol is available at Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex – Miller Lite, Coors Lite, and Yuengling canned beers are available for $6, while Truly and Dos Equis are offered for $8. Also make sure to try the Eagle Rush beer, available for $8; this popular Southern Miss themed beer is brewed locally in Hattiesburg by Southern Prohibition.

Atmosphere   3

In between Southern Miss Wellness Center and Reed Green Coliseum lies a little beach oasis called Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex, which opened in 2019. Each Spring season the complex hosts the Beach Burg Invitational, a two-day, all-day tournament featuring 10-12 of some of the local college beach volleyball teams – most years these matches have been the only home contests for the Sand Eagles during the regular season.


If you didn't know this place was here you would have a hard time finding it, as the complex is nestled among some huge old oak trees with a fence that wraps around the facility, with a black Southern Miss windscreen wrapping around the fence. The layout is simple but quite interesting, as they basically just added some sand and a wooden elevated plank style boardwalk overlooking the sand. There are four beach volleyball courts facing north and south, with the boardwalk taking up the south side.


There are three sets of metal bleachers on the boardwalk for fans to sit in, but for the most part people just stand or sit in folding chairs. The small snack bar is located on the covered walkway at the far end of the facility, while on the east side the courts are overlooked by a huge wooden structure with a covered area, where the teams gather while the matches are underway.

The Southern Miss indoor volleyball arena overlooks Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex from the north side, while the campus recreation center, Payne Center, provides the backdrop from the south side.

 

Neighborhood   3

Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex is located on the back side of campus, tucked away next to most of the other Southern Miss athletic venues. Hattiesburg is a medium sized college town of about 50,000 people, so you should be able to find everything you need – however, you may have to drive to get to many of the attractions and restaurants.


In terms of places within walking distance, you can get on the Long Leaf Trace and walk east, and the first place you will come to is 4th Street Bar. The owner is a huge Southern Miss fan, and on the walls you can find tons of Southern Miss memorabilia; everything you can think of is on the wall, including old programs, t-shirts, banners, and signed items relating to Southern Miss. Another popular spot just down the Trace from 4th Street Bar is Colludium Brewing Company – located in an old train depot warehouse, this popular brewery has over 30 craft beers, and is a popular stop for cyclists riding the Trace.


For other attractions to check out in the area, the Hattiesburg Zoo is located about a mile away, while to get a feel for beach volleyball and the beach theme you can also check out Serengeti Springs Water Park, which opened in Spring 2024 right next to the zoo. There are also a lot of restaurants and other nightlife options located downtown and along Hardy Street.  

 

Fans   3

The Beach Burg Invitational matches usually begin early on Friday morning, and last all day and into the evening on both Friday and Saturday. From a fan perspective it can get kind of confusing watching this event, as all four courts are being used at the same time, most of the time with different schools playing on each of the courts – you kind of just have to pick a court and watch the action.


There are no PA announcers, as music plays at all times, which I thought was relaxing to just watch the players while listening to music; it reminded me of being at the beach. They play a wide mix of classic rock, country, and current hits over the speakers while the matches are underway. There are also no scoreboards or video boards here; instead a scorer just sets up a table with a flip-style scoreboard like you would see at a youth or rec league volleyball match.


With there only being one home tournament played on campus every year, the athletic department usually schedules the Beach Burg Invitational to coincide with the big Spring weekend for Southern Miss sports, so you can catch a baseball, softball, and spring football game on the same weekend as the beach volleyball contests. That said, as the tournament progresses into Friday and Saturday afternoons, you'll catch a lot of people heading from the baseball game just stopping by to watch the beach volleyball action. The afternoon contests are usually pretty packed with a couple hundred fans, but it is harder to get a seat in the bleachers the later the day gets, so most fans stand.

 

Access   3

Hattiesburg may be one of the more accessible towns in the state of Mississippi – nicknamed the Hub City, it used to be a prominent railroad hub back in the day for people wanting to get from the coast to Hattiesburg. Conveniently located about an hour and a half from the coast, New Orleans, Jackson, Meridian, and Mobile, Hattiesburg sits right in the middle of it all.


You will not miss the USM campus when coming to town, as the campus is located right on the corner of Highway 49 and Hardy Street, two of the main roads through the city. Interstate 55 runs to the west of the city, and you could take that as well, but you may run into considerable traffic on Hardy Street. Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex sits on the back side of campus on 4th Street, directly across the street from Pete Taylor Park, but it is nestled in such a way that you may not be able to see it from the road.


During the Beach Burg Invitational, parking for beach volleyball conflicts with the baseball game going on – many of the lots are reserved for baseball season ticket holders, so more than likely you will have to walk. There is a parking garage nearby with plenty of free parking, however, and you can also park near the Student Union and walk from there.

 

Return on Investment   3

Tickets are free to Southern Miss beach volleyball matches, and parking is free on campus when you attend. This is also a unique niche college sport that you can't help but want to watch if you happening to be coming for a baseball game at Pete Taylor Park, so I definitely recommend checking it out even if just for a little while.

 

Extras   4

Even though the Sand Eagles usually only host one home tournament per year, Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex still gets constant use throughout the year, as the complex is also home to the William Carey Crusaders Beach Volleyball team, an NAIA school located on the south side of Hattiesburg. In addition, the complex hosts volleyball camps and youth tournaments throughout the year.

Another plus for Southern Miss beach volleyball being the only NCAA D1-sanctioned beach volleyball program in the state of Mississippi, as well as another point for the Beach Burg Invitational being scheduled the same weekend as other Southern Miss sporting events.


My recommendation would be catching a little bit of the volleyball action when the gates open at 8 am, then venturing over to M. M. Roberts Stadium for the Spring football game. After that cross 4th Street and hop on the Long Leaf Trace to visit Southern Miss Softball Complex and Pete Taylor Park for some softball and baseball action, before finishing up your evening back at Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex.


If you have a chance to come here in the Fall for an indoor volleyball match, I recommend checking out the brand-new Southern Miss Wellness Center as well, which is located right next to Southern Miss Beach Volleyball Complex – the indoor complex also opened in 2019, and is one of the finest volleyball-only facilities in the country.

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