Friday, April 2, 2010

Welcome to Volleyball Valley

May tournament expected to bring 1,000 players

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley may have to change its name to Volleyball Valley for Memorial Day weekend.

Up to 1,000 volleyball players are expected to pour into the area from May 29-31 for the first-ever Sun Valley Volleyball Classic at Sun Valley Resort.

Ketchum resident Jeff Brendel, an event organizer, said the classic is planned to return every year for the holiday weekend. He said almost 100 teams are expected for the event, which will be composed of three tournaments.

The first will be an indoor youth tournament inside the Sun Valley Ice Rink where courts will be constructed. This competition is open to girls ages 14-18, and 40 teams are expected. The second tournament will be a corporate challenge in which businesses can register as co-ed teams. Brendel said nearly 40 teams are expected for that, and will play on grass courts near the Sun Valley Pavilion.

The highlight of the classic will be the doubles beach tournament, with about 30 teams expected. But Sun Valley runs short on sand. Brendel said trucks would haul in sand for the court, constructed near the outdoor ice rink behind Sun Valley Lodge.

"We'll have a stadium atmosphere," Brendel said.

The terrace behind the lodge will serve as the stands, and lights will be set up for night play. He said several professional volleyball players would be in town for a few matches under the lights on Saturday. Who they will be is still uncertain.

The classic is being organized in conjunction with the Colbie Calliat concert at the Pavilion that Sunday. Volleyball players will be able to buy tickets at discounted prices ranging between $18 and $38.

Brendel is vice president of business development for Intelligent Athlete Academy, which creates personalized training systems for athletes. He said the classic was his brainchild and that of two former USA Volleyball coaches, Erikka Gulbranson, who is Mountain Rides' marketing coordinator, and Ashley Dean, who is Thunder Springs' rental coordinator.

"We've been thinking of this for a couple of months," he said.

Trevon Milliard:

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