This past weekend, just like the past 36 years, the city of Seaside (population 6,457) on the north end of Oregon’s Pacific coast filled up with thousands of players and fans for the annual Seaside Beach Volleyball.
The tournament was originally created because a lifeguard wanted to raise money for a new lifeguard stand, but has since evolved into what might be the largest volleyball tournament in the world, according to Brian Owen, executive director of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve never been this large.” Owen said. “We’re at 154 courts, and that’s up 10 courts from last year. We have over 1,500 teams and expect to be over 1,550 or even 1600 by the end of registration. ”
If you count unique players, we will be at about 2,700. This year we are hoping to be authenticated by Guinness Book.”
The Mizuno Beach Volleyball Marathon, held in Bibione, Italy, is also thought to be one of the largest volleyball tournaments in the world.
“They have more nets,” said Owen, “but I don’t know if they have unique players that are equal to us. If I heard correctly, they had about 2,300 unique players. They are a two-day tournament and we are a four-day tournament.”
Due to the sheer size of the event, the tournament has outgrown the stereotypical bracket boards, switching instead to a mobile app.
“Last year we changed our manual bracket boards,” Owen reported, “which were dry-erase boards, into an app, so now each player knows when they start, at what court, and when they ref, so there’s no excuse for being late.
“The best part is that we’ve freed the players up so they don’t have to wait on the beach around the bracket boards to find out that they won’t play for an hour or two, or find out that they need to play now clear on the other side.
“You know that if you have two hours then you can go into the city and grab lunch or take a shower.”
The tournament attracts beach volleyball professionals and amateurs alike, said Owen.
“We’re up to over $78,000 in cash and prizes for the entire event. The top prize for both men’s and women’s Open we raised to $4,000 this year, and we’re starting to attract more professional names.”
This year the men’s open division was won by AVP stalwarts Bill Kolinske and Miles Evans, while the women’s open was won by Betsi Flint and Kelley Larsen, who have two wins on the domestic AVP circuit.