Big Lake’s Mud Volleyball Tournament turns 30

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Photo credit: Chad Copelin

This June, the Big Lake Lion’s Club in Wasilla is celebrating 30 years of the annual Mud Volleyball Tournament.

“It’s a fundraiser,” Bill Haller, project coordinator at Big Lake Lion’s Recreation Center, said. “It has grown immensely since. It started out with one pit and five or six teams. Over the years it just got bigger and bigger… last year, we [had] 57 teams and two pits.”

With the growth, this year they have decided to add a third pit to accommodate the estimated 60 or more teams attending.

“We have sponsors that sponsor the pits and the event,” Haller said.

“This is the first year we’ve done sponsorships,” Jaine Estes, event director, said. “Everything we earn from mud volleyball goes right back to the Big Lake community, so this is the first year we’ve gone after sponsorships.”

Her first year as event director, Estes had played mud volleyball before.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie that come along with it, even if you are playing against another team. It’s fun banter, it’s not like, hard-core competitive,” Estes said.

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In addition to regular volleyball rules, mud volleyball is personalized similarly to beach volleyball. The rules include only underhand serves, 10-person teams with eight players on court, two alternates and two members of opposite sex on the court at all times.

“It’s a coed event,” Haller said. “I mean, yes, people want to win it, but it’s not what I would say ‘highly competitive.’ It’s more of a mixed social event.”

Though there is no other celebration to honor mud volleyball’s 30 years, this year will be the first to feature a DJ and a food truck during the duration of the event. Haller is hoping the event will be able to run smoothly and quicker than previous years.

“We’re hoping it gets done a little earlier… there’s been times it didn’t get done until 10:30 at night. So we’re hoping we’ll get done at a reasonable hour,” Haller said.

Check-in for the event starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 17. The games begin at 10 a.m. Admission is $250 for each team, due by Wednesday, June 14. Players must be 18 years old or older to play.