New owners to convert SoNo Field House into youth volleyball hub

Photo of Alexander Soule

NORWALK — Under new ownership, a South Norwalk athletic facility will soon become a major youth volleyball training center.

SoNo Field House will be rebranded in June as the Northeast Athletic Center under the direction of the Northeast Volleyball Club. The facility is expected to add six volleyball courts, while retaining 12,000 square feet of indoor turf for other sports with clinics and field rentals to continue during the installation of the new courts.

Jim Quinn, who had been co-owner of SoNo Field House, could not immediately be reached Monday for comment on the decision to sell the facility.

Wilton residents Cat Dailey Minyard and Garrett Minyard have run the Northeast Volleyball Club since 2018 out of the Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton. The facility hosts club teams, training and camps for youth ages 12 through 18.

As of this spring, Northeast Volleyball Club offered two dozen teams for girls and seven for boys with each squad consisting of 10 to 12 players. More than 500 girls showed up for the most recent round of tryouts, Dailey Minyard said.

“The sport itself has grown tremendously,” Dailey Minyard said. “A lot of schools have added it in the past five to 10 years. I think the Olympics also really helped. ... You can flip on ESPN and see volleyball, and that wasn’t always the case.”

Dailey Minyard played at Yale University and then professionally in Italy, while Garrett Minyard captained the Sacred Heart University volleyball team before coaching at Durham University in the United Kingdom while pursuing a master’s degree in business.

“Garrett and I have always had our eye on the SoNo Field House — we always thought it was a building that had a potential for volleyball with the amount of floor space and high ceilings,” Dailey Minyard said. “Even back in 2016 we peeked in there, before we started the Northeast Volleyball Club.”

Dailey Minyard said they looked at other sites as well as building a new facility on the Four Seasons Racquet Club property in Wilton, before learning of the availability of SoNo Field House late last year.

Built in 2009 on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in South Norwalk, SoNo Field House got major competition within a few years from the far larger Chelsea Piers of Connecticut field house in Stamford. But SoNo Field House found a niche hosting lacrosse teams and clinics for year-round training, while also drawing the Inter Connecticut FC soccer program and others.

Dailey Minyard said responses have been positive from Inter Connecticut and other clubs that lease the field house about the plans to convert two-thirds of the turf field to volleyball courts.

After the city of Norwalk appraised SoNo Field House at $6.9 million in 2020 — unchanged from a year earlier — the property’s ownership group sued for a lower valuation in state Superior Court. The city agreed to a stipulated settlement out of court.

Includes prior reporting by Pat Tomlinson.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman