What started as an event that few noticed was taking place is starting to become a major staple of the offseason sports scene.
The sixth annual Winter Bump club volleyball tournament will be taking place Saturday through Monday, with approximately 150 teams en route to Myrtle Beach in the next two days. Games will be taking place at multiple venues locally, including the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Add in another 96 teams playing in the event heading to Charleston, and tournament director and Grand Strand Juniors Club Director Alex Sings baby has grown significantly since its 2008 inaugural campaign.
It really didnt take hold until the following year. We went from 35 teams to 144 teams, Sing said. Club volleyball in general has been growing. Its been an upward trending sport. New players are catching on.
Im sure at some point the growth will slow down. But every tournament we go to is sold out and teams are fighting to get it. The number of tournaments has continued to grow, but were still filling up ours.
The hotel capacity and playing venues for both Myrtle Beach and Charleston, Sing added, could eventually increase the tournament by another 100- to 150 teams. Considering each team brings in 10 players and two coaches, as well as an estimated two-and-a-half spectators per player, and the growth will surely be felt area-wide once again.
The tournament has joined forces with several restaurants and hotels, injecting more tourism into the area during a relatively slow time of year.
For Sing, that economic impact is a direct response to the level of play at the Winter Bump. Some of the top club teams from five different states will be in Myrtle Beach.
The Grand Strand Juniors, which has been a major cog in the development of several high school teams, will obviously be well represented, as well. For instance, seven of the eight players named to The Sun News Toast of the Coast Volleyball team (to be released later this month) will be playing this weekend. Four of those players will be on the same team in the 18-Open division.
Were getting a better quality team, Sing said. We have more and more college coaches coming to the event. There are some other long-standing tournaments that other people were used to going to. Now theyre starting to turn and come our way.
The Winter Bump now claims to be the largest club tournament in the state. Its paid off for the area, but its also helped local players.
Recent state champions North Myrtle Beach High and Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach (the latter of which Sing coaches) have each had numerous players in the tournament over the last two years.
Its done wonders for our club, and the exposure to our athletes, Sing said. People are investing in the ability to hopefully play in college or increase the competitiveness in high school.
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.