This is the second installment of a three-part series by guest blogger, Mark Nalevanko, Director of the Carolina Region/USA Beach Volleyball.
Can you name the 3 states that held the largest tournaments on the USA Beach Jr Tour in 2013?
Read to the bottom of the article – the answer may surprise you. Well, fall is pretty much here. School volleyball teams are in full swing, and memories of beach season may be starting to drift away. Here’s a refresher on what our season looked like.
It quickly became apparent that the number of events and locations for the 2013 beach season would be more than ever, with 21 slated. We got some great news early on: USA Beach gave the Carolina Open “Grand Slam” status, enabling the top five finishers in each age division to get bids to nationals (previously only top three did).
Also leading up to the start of the tour season was the scheduling of the first Carolina Region hosted USA Beach High Performance Tryout. Finally, athletes in the Carolina Region looking for selection into the highest level of junior beach volleyball opportunities would not need to travel many hours to participate in a tryout.
The Carolina Region Jr. Beach Tour kicked off on April 13th at Capt’n Bill’s in Wilmington, NC with 40 teams participating. The rest of April gave a taste of the number of tournaments that would be available throughout the season with stops in the Triangle, hosted by Blue Sky Volleyball and Vh1vball, Claremont in Western NC, hosted by Bearfoot Juniors and a new site in Catawba, NC, hosted by Carolina Crush Volleyball.
Participation levels kicked up to a new high in May. The Carolina Grand Slam in mid-May saw 143 teams from six states . The most popular divisions, Girls 14U and 16U, had 12 pools each. The depth of competition was the best seen in the area and even though five national bids were given out per age division, inevitably some well-deserving teams did not get a bid.
In June the focus event was the Carolina Challenge in Wilmington. Originally conceived with the intent to create a “Battle of NC vs. SC” theme, the event ended up not getting the participation levels desired from the SC side but it became a huge event nonetheless, the 2nd largest of the year with 97 teams.
July saw the culmination of the 2013 season. The ROX the Night event, an evening grass event in Claremont, NC saw the most junior teams participate in an event in that part of the state at 67. Emerald Isle hosted for the 2nd year in a row the tour championships. Under fantastic weather two locations about ½ mile apart on the beach hosted 90 teams.
The season came to a close with the USA Beach Jr. Tour Nationals in Milwaukee, WI over the last weekend of July. Of the 260+ teams participating, seven teams consisting of at least one NC player competed. The 16U teams of Kylie Grandy (Wake Forest)/Genna Simpkins (Cary) and Katie McCullough (Raleigh)/Kati Smith (Raleigh) had the best finishes, tied for 5th. The best 14U finish was an 11th by Sydney Rowan (High Point) and her partner from TX, Eliza Gallagher.
There you have it… a quick recap of 2013. What a season!? And now going back to the question, “Can you name the 3 states that hosted the largest events on the USA Beach Jr Beach Tour?” 1. Wisconsin (Nationals) – 268, 2. Texas – 160, and 3. North Carolina – 143. Believe it or not, NC is up there with anyone in popularity of play by juniors.
(Stay tuned for Part III of this series of articles which will be looking ahead to 2014 and beyond.)