SportsEvents Magazine

NOV 2016

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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Page 33 of 59

t SPORT Report BEACH Plenty Of Ways To Play In The Sand BY MICHELLE RYAN Hit the Since 1994, the North American Sand Soccer Championships (NASSC) has com- bined beach soccer with Virginia Beach's family-friendly oceanfront destination. The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau attracts USA Volleyball, USA Ultimate, NASSC and "everything in between," said Director of Sports Market- ing Nancy Helman. The city plays host to more than 100 sports events each year. For Virginia Beach, the NASSC has translated to an $11 million economic impact over the two-and-a-half-day festival, according to Dick Whalen, the NASSC's executive director. But Helman measures success in more than just dollars and cents. "The success is in the hosting, when you see the beach full, the vendors busy and the hotels packed," she said. "It's also in exposing a sport to thousands of visitors, and seeing a sport be able to leave a legacy in our city." FROM SAND TO CENTER STAGE For more than a hundred years, beach volleyball has been a staple on the sand. The sport that grew in popularity during the Great Depression because it provided cheap entertainment is now one of the most popular Olympic sports. Since 1996, when it officially became part of the Summer Games, beach vol- leyball benefited from the international exposure. In return, it has helped generate record-level viewership and digital engage- ment numbers in 2012 and 2016 for NBC, according to releases from the network. It's now the fastest growing NCAA Division I sport, according to the Ameri- can Volleyball Coaches Association. Gulf Shores, AL, hosted its inaugural collegiate championship in May this year. Mark Paaluhi, manager of USA Volley- ball's Junior Beach Tour, credited collegiate beach volleyball with the growing interest November 2016 34 Sports on the beach are more than just fun and games. They're big business for the sports organizations and cities that help bring the competitions to life.

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