The Oasis: Providing The Island Vibe in The Middle of Baton Rouge
Josh Wells has only been the Sand Sports Director at The Oasis for a little more than a year, and already he’s running into problems he can get excited about. It’s not a normal thing for startups, to be genuinely happy when certain issues arise, but Wells’ is, indeed, a good one to have: So many people are showing up to play beach volleyball, to eat at the restaurant on site, to have a few casual drinks on the 5,000-square foot patio, that there’s hardly anywhere to park.
“We’re working on adding that first and then courts,” Wells said. “I’m hoping by the end of year three we’ll have another set of courts.”
Year one has barely come to a close, and Wells and the Oasis staff are already looking forward to the growth and expansion in the years to come. Such is the zest for the sport in southeast Louisiana, which has a startling number of beach volleyball complexes – White Sands, Coconut Beach, Digs, Mango’s and, most recently, Oasis and LSU – yet still not enough to satiate the appetite for the locals.
The Baton Rouge location is beneficial, too.
“There’s not much to do,” Wells said. “You can go and kind of escape from Baton Rouge by going to the beach right in the middle of it. It’s a total island atmosphere.”
Hence the name: Oasis.
Wells knows, perhaps as well as anybody in Louisiana, how valuable it is to have a beach complex nearby. He was practically raised at Mango’s, a sprawling facility with 13 courts, sand as deep as Manhattan Beach, and a bar and restaurant.
“I just kind of grew up at the local beach complex,” Well said. “The owners were like my parents because they didn’t have any kids. I literally grew up there, refereeing and taking out the trash.”
It made for a difficult decision when the three founders of Oasis came calling. Wells had worked at Mango’s for 18 years, 15 of which he was the manager. But the area needed another site. Mango’s was filling its 13 courts every night, and it was also hosting the LSU beach team before the Tigers had courts on campus.
“They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Wells said, and thus Louisiana was gifted another place to play beach volleyball. More than that: It was gifted another place to give back.
More than anything, that’s what Wells is most proud of in his inaugural year at Oasis: The volume of philanthropy that is done at the place. If there isn’t a tournament on the weekends, there’s a fundraiser. Could be for cystic fibrosis, lymphoma, Volley for Hearts, United Way, the Boys and Girls Club, local schools – anything with a local touch will do.
“It’s just that feeling from the past, when everything is done and it’s successful, you write a check for five grand to an organization that’s going to disperse that out to people in the community,” Wells said. “You see the results, and our cystic fibrosis — two of the kids play in our tournaments and play in our leagues, so it’s not like we’re just throwing money here and there. It all has a cause, it all hits home.”
And now Wells, as Mango’s once did for him, can provide a second home for anyone in Baton Rouge seeking an – ahem – Oasis.
“We’re just trying to build it,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young, college-age talent that they don’t know how good they are yet. I feel like I get to help these guys out. Every day when the door opens, there’s a crowd to play pick-up before leagues start.”
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