Known as one of the Top 10 major events in Phoenix and one of the largest volleyball tournaments in the world, the 29th Annual Volleyball Festival Championships commence Tuesday, June 26 at the welcoming ceremony at Chase Field, followed by a week of competition and festivities at the Phoenix Convention Center.
In addition to the tournament and several family-friendly activities, U.S. Olympian Beach Volleyball Gold Medalist Misty May-Treanor will speak to participants and sign autographs at the Phoenix Convention Center on June 28.
More than 6,000 young female athletes from across the globe will compete in seven different age divisions from 12 to 18 years. The Volleyball Festival is unique compared to other tournaments in that there is no pre-qualification and it’s open to all club and school teams. Past participants have included former Olympians Kerri Walsh, Misty May, Heather Cox, Kristin Folkl, Holly McPeak, and Tara Cross-Battle, among others. Teams can still register at www.volleyball-festival.com. All activities are open to the public and spectator tickets can be purchased online or at the Phoenix Convention Center.
“My wife and I created this Festival 28 years ago when our two daughters started playing volleyball in junior high school,” said Dr. David Epperson, co-founder of Festival Sports.” “Only eight years after the enactment of Title IX, there were still very few resources available to support female sports in most schools. We took it upon ourselves to create an experience for our daughters and many other young female volleyball players, and now our small event has grown into one of the largest competitions in the country.”
The Volleyball Festival provides several family-friendly activities, including a Kids Zone and Special Olympics division. This year’s festival theme, organized by Festival Sports and sponsored by Nfinity, Spalding, SnapSports and The CORE Institute, is “Ho’olaule’a.” Pronounced ho-o-lau-lay-ah, the Hawaiian word for festival.
“The Volleyball Festival is all about celebrating the spirit and accomplishments of our athletes. Our goal is to create experiences that inspire, friendly competition that empowers and relationships that unify our athletes for life,” said Bryan Kelley, President of Festival Sports.
During a time when tourists and visitors are lower than at other times of the year, the Volleyball Festival brings 6,000 athletes and their families and friends to the Phoenix area, making an estimated annual economic impact of $22 million. More than 100 local hotels, businesses and restaurants offer special packages and discounts to Festival attendees, which provides them an uptake in patronage during the weeklong festivities.
“This is our fourth year in Phoenix, and we’ve received very positive feedback from our athletes, coaches and parents about how much they enjoy the downtown Phoenix area. Our event is about building a sense of community and we feel Phoenix has become a major part of that,” said Kelley.
The Olympic-style Opening Ceremonies are from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 26, and will feature Guest of Honor Jenny Kropp, pro beach volleyball player and team captain of Nebraska’s undefeated 2000 NCAA National Championship indoor team. All participating teams will parade onto Chase Field followed by an awards presentation, inspirational moments and performances by Polynesian dancers, drummers and fire dancers.
The Volleyball Festival Tournament games begin 8 a.m., Wednesday, June 27 and continue through Sunday, July 1, 2012 and include the following:
- The highly anticipated championship game for the 18-year-old age group takes place at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 30 and is televised on FOX Sports.
- The Special Olympics volleyball competition takes place on Wednesday, June 27 and Thursday, June 28.
- Friday, June 29 is “Win With Heart” Day, where all teams wear red in support of Nfinity’s non-profit campaign “Win With Heart,” which aims to fight and prevent heart disease and raise awareness among young female athletes. Donations will be accepted.
- The Kids Zone is open all week with fun-filled activities, including four inflatables (bounce house, slide, obstacle course, and boxing ring), half-court basketball, mini volleyball, video games, movies, and coloring. On Sunday, July 1, the Kids Zone will feature a Wii dance off, face painting and bingo.
- For athletes from the graduating classes of 2013-2016, The Volleyball Festival provides a venue to showcase talent for college and university scouts. Biokats Sports Network and the National Scouting Report will be conducting player showcase sessions during the competition and offering free recruiting seminars and workshops for parents, athletes and coaches, as well as free player evaluations.