USC Salk student-athletes to get new housing

By Heather Ruppe

The lack of student housing in Walterboro has been a big concern, especially with the college’s recruiting efforts to bring more students to the University of South Carolina campus at Salkehatchie. To solve this problem, a private landlord is working with Walterboro officials and USC Salk leaders to help turn a once-private antebellum residence into a new all-female dormitory.

A house at 227 S. Jefferies Boulevard near downtown Walterboro has been rezoned for student housing. It will be used for the college women’s volleyball team.

On April 25, the City of Walterboro’s Zoning Appeals Board (BZA) approved a request for a special exception to allow the property to be used for USC Salkehatchie student housing. According to city manager Jeff Molinari, this was not a request for rezoning, but a request for a special exception heard by the zoning appeal board.

“The city is not contributing anything financially to the project,” he said.

Once the zoning is complete, renovations to the property can begin.

“We were squeezing four girls into a one bedroom apartment. So we were looking for more dorm-type options and more space for our players,” said Alexis Ivey, head coach of the USC Salk women’s volleyball team. Ivey was hired as the new head coach in May.

The goal is to have the new dormitory ready for students by July 30, depending on permits, Ivey said.

The volleyball season in Salk starts on August 1.

According to Ivey, the team has seven returning volleyball players from the 2021 season and four more committed. She is always recruiting more players. “Our goal is to have 14 to 16 girls,” she said.

The Salkehatchie women’s volleyball team finished last season with 1 and 17.

“We won our very last game of the season,” said Ivey. “We haven’t had the most successful season, but it has been a rebuilding year. That comes with new dorms, and we’re updating the gym and getting a new weight room. Just getting updates across campus helps me recruit.

Ivey says a new weight room for the team will be created this summer. Additionally, the school is making aesthetic updates to the gym/locker rooms.

“The hope is to have a completely redone gym within the next two to three years. We actually have to widen the floor, because it’s a bit short right now. We need to blow up the back wall of the gymnasium and make it bigger,” she said, adding that school officials are also hoping to add more seating.

“We’re making it more professional, more collegial,” she said. “It has to look and feel like college.”

According to Dr. Brandon Wright, acting assistant dean of student success at USC Salk, there are between 50 and 75 students at Walterboro who reside in private student housing. Students at the school’s Allendale campus also live in private accommodation.

He said USC Salk was in no way involved in the development of this student housing project, but added that he was very excited about what was happening.

“We are excited about this project and how it can contribute to the growth of our campus. Student accommodation allows students to meet new people and develop lasting friendships. It also allows for many social, educational and recreational opportunities,” he said.