It will be a busy season, as usual, for the Grand Haven-based group, as they are set to host their typical trio of tournaments as well as three youth clinics and award the next set of West Michigan Beach Volleyball scholarships.
The summer full of programming speaks to the mission of West Michigan Beach Volleyball.
“We are really trying to build this from the ground up,” said WMVB co-founder Stevo Vanderwerp. “We had a lot of help while we traveled around playing professionally. We want to make sure we give that back to the volleyball community here.
“Bringing instruction to young players, enabling them to play and grow and play with the tournaments and being able to help them continue their education with the scholarship is all to just continue to grow the game that we love in a place that we love.”
After a single trial run of the youth clinic last summer, WMVB partnered with the Friends of Grand Haven State Park to expand to three clinics this summer. The results were similar to the trial — sellout.
“We didn’t know how it would go. In our proposal, we thought about 150 kids,” Vanderwerp said. “We got 200 signed up and can only fit 180. The response has been great.”
Despite the full-to-bursting clinics, there is still space in the tournament field this weekend. Registration for Saturday ends online at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, while day-of registrations for coed play Sunday will carry a $10 late fee.
Friday’s action will feature a mens and womens AA/Open division, meant for the most experienced players in the field with a $90 entry fee; mens and womens A divisions for $70; and mens and womens B divisions for $60.
Junior doubles teams will enter in one of four age groups for ages 12, 14, 16 and 18 at $50 to enter.
Check-in runs from 8-8:30 a.m. for the adult divisions with an 8:45 a.m. start time, while juniors will check in from 8:30-9 a.m. and begin play at 9:30 a.m.
Sunday will feature coed play with AA/Open, A and B divisions for doubles at $50 per team, as well as three divisions for coed fours. AA/Open, A and B will all run $80 per team.
Check-in Sunday will run from 9-9:30 a.m. with play beginning at 10 a.m.
WMVB’s second and third tournaments will feature the same lineup, running July 13-14 and August 10-11.
Last season, aspiring AVP professionals descended on the state park to compete for a chance to crack the pro tour as part of the AVPNext program. Due to a restructure in the qualification journey, this year’s tournaments will feature amateur, homegrown talent.
That isn’t to say its all local talent, however. Grand Haven State Park has built a reputation in the volleyball community, making the three WMVB tournament’s must-play for enthusiasts across the region.
“We have teams coming from all over the state,” Vanderwerp said. “From Traverse City to Detroit, even people coming in from Ohio.
“People know Grand Haven is beautiful and what it has to offer as a vacation town. Everyone wants to be here in this city for these tournaments.
“They restructured the whole feeder system for the AVP, so we decided to continue to focus on our juniors divisions and making those our biggest ones. We really are just trying to give kids as many opportunities to play as possible.”
After seeing young players through the full gambit of beach volleyball development, WMVB has taken over the finishing process by once again awarding $2000 of college scholarships to local seniors.
Four $500 awards are given out each summer to students entering their senior year. The scholarships aren’t limited to competition-bound volleyball players — anyone headed to college who participates in one WMVB event this summer may apply.
“You don’t have to be a high-level volleyball player,” Vanderwerp emphasized. “You don’t have to be heading to Michigan State to play, we just want to see you out here enjoying the game on the beach. We love to see these kids grow in the game at our events and wanted to help them continue their education in whatever way is right. This community is so generous, we are just trying to give back in as many ways as possible.”
Applications must be submitted by July 15. Answers to four questions found on the WMVB website, www.wmbeachvolleyball.com/scholarship should be submitted to [email protected]