On a holiday weekend long reserved for big youth sports tournaments, who knew that volleyball is the biggest of all?
|Whimsical signs at the 2013 Emerald City Classic point out|
just how far some teams have traveled to get to Seattle
At the University of Washington, more than 2,200 athletes will fill 25 volleyball courts morning, afternoon and night. This is club volleyball—girls ages 11-18—on 200 teams from across the Western United States (including Hawaii), plus British Columbia, Alberta and even Brazil.
The Emerald City Classic Invitational (ECC) is now in its 27th season, the last 12 at UW. 16 of the 25 courts are in the Dempsey Indoor Arena, where members of the UW ROTC worked for hours last night to convert the usual football field into a giant volleyball gym. Check out Leslie Hamann's Volleyblog Seattle time lapse video of the conversion:
ECC director Dave Weitl has earned respect for putting together an event involving such a huge number of athletes, coaches, parents and spectators. [Full disclosure: Volleyblog Seattle’s Jack Hamann is a former board member of the Washington Volleyball Academy, which is affiliated with the Emerald City Classic.] Tournament volunteers try to create a festive feel, with food tents in the courtyard north of Husky Stadium, and exhibitors in Alaska Airlines Arena.
A few elite teams will still compete in national tournaments in the weeks ahead, but for most of these young athletes, ECC is the last time they'll see their teammates this season. Sprinkled in the crowd will be college coaches, checking out the next wave of possible prospects.
Many thousands of girls (and, increasingly, boys) play club volleyball in Washington state. More girls play prep volleyball than any other high school sport in the state (that’s right, more than basketball, more than soccer, more than softball.) Memorial Day is a great time to see what all the fuss is about.