Seaside signal. (Seaside, Or.) 1905-current, August 02, 2019, Page A10, Image 10

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August 2, 2019
Summer Sports
Craig Barrow
dives to keep
a rally alive
during quad,
or four on four,
action on the
main court
at a previous
Seaside Beach
Alex Pajunas photo
For Seaside Signal
hen an event has been around for 38 years, like
the annual Seaside Beach Volleyball Tourna-
ment, it creates the opportunity for people who
participated as children to return and continue
the tradition with their own families.
“We have kids that are younger than 12 and adults
that are older than 60, and everywhere in between,” Sea-
side Chamber of Commerce Director Brian Owen said.
“To see the community support each other — seeing the
kids watching the adults, seeing the adults watching the
kids – it really is why this is a family event.”
Local proprietor Michelle Wunderlich and her 16-year-
old daughter Annika are a case in point. Wunderlich has
long possessed an affi nity for beach volleyball, summing
up some of her best adolescent and young adult memories
as playing the sport in the sand, biking along the Prome-
nade, and eating at The Stand. She has attended the tour-
nament — which takes place this year from Aug. 8 to 11
— for about 30 years, playing in a majority of them.
At 5 months old, Annika made her fi rst appearance
as a spectator. Now, for the sixth year, both mother and
daughter will compete in the tournament, albeit on differ-
ent teams.
“It’s really fun for me having her love it as much as she
does,” Wunderlich said.
They have a standing tradition to watch pros play at
the annual Seattle Open with one of Wunderlich’s long-
time friends and volleyball partners, but the Seaside tour-
nament is an equally meaningful tradition and destination
in its own right.
“It’s my favorite weekend of the summer, far and
away,” she said.
Optimizing the experience
The tournament originated in 1982 when local life-
guards were raising funds to either fi x a lifeguard tower
or purchase a new one. During the inaugural tournament,
about 25 teams participated.
At present, the tournament averages about 16,000 teams
playing among three division: doubles, quads, and sixes.
The Seaside Chamber of Commerce is looking for a
large number of volunteers to help with Seaside Beach
Volleyball Tournament tasks, including setup, booths,
prize giveaways, security, tear down and more.
The event is Aug. 8-11 on the Seaside beach.
Come be a part of one of the largest volleyball tourna-
ments in the world.
Sign up at
For 2019, there will be 184 volleyball courts set up on the
beach, which is about 20 more than last year, Owen said.
Four years ago, Bad Boys Open Volleyball partnered
with the chamber, becoming the tournament directors.
The event also is now sponsored by the AVPFirst and
AVPNext divisions of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball
Tour, contributing to a national pipeline for youth, semi-
pro and professional beach volleyball.
During the past three years, “the player experience
has been our No. 1 goal,” Owen said. The tournament
used to be open to anyone who wanted to participate,
which led to ineffi cient scheduling and game delays that
negatively impacted players and spectators.
“We had them always waiting for us to tell them
when they were going to play next,” Owen said.
Based on input from participants, each division has
been capped for the past three years. The organizers
also implemented set brackets, so as soon as a team fi n-
ishes one game, they know when and where their next
match will be, if not necessarily who they are playing.
They use a web-based digital communication tool that
can be downloaded as an app to schedule matches and
communicate with the athletes.
Not only does that create “a better player experi-
ence all day long,” Owen said, but it also means partic-
ipants aren’t stuck on the beach, waiting for their next
match. They can return to their hotel to relax or migrate
into town to go shopping, eat a meal, or visit a local
Going green
Another way the Seaside tournament is evolving
over the next few years is through an increased focus on
sustainable event practices and reducing the amount of
waste brought to the beach.
The fi rst “big swing at this,” Owen said, is a partner-
ship with Liberty BottleWorks, who will be setting up a
hydration station where both players and spectators can
fi ll their reusable water bottles. They also are providing
fi rst-, second- and third-place prizes.
Next year, the organizers plan to request food and
other vendors provide a recyclable and/or biodegrad-
able packaging option for bags and to-go containers,
as well as straws and other items. They already focus
on vendors that have sustainable practices within their
“This way, we can make sure, when we do leave the
beach, we’ve made our best effort to leave it clean and
clear,” Owen said.
The beach volleyball culture
Billed as the world’s largest amateur beach tourna-
ment, the Seaside event draws in several thousand par-
ticipants and spectators. In the open division, there will
be a few familiar faces. Past champions Bill Kolinske
and Miles Evans will be back. Adam Roberts, whose
team placed second in their division last year, is return-
ing with a new partner. Chris Honer, an energetic player
who is “incredibly fun to watch,” is also returning,
Owen said. In the women’s open division, Katie Spieler,
last year’s champion is returning with a new partner,
Courtney Knudsen.
Doubles is the most popular, and competitive, style
of play for beach volleyball, whereas playing as quads
and sixes is “really a time to gather with your friends
and enjoy a day at the beach,” Owen said.
The different divisions and levels of competition cre-
ate a conducive environment for anyone to join in, but
they all contribute to same unique culture surrounding
the activity.
“Honestly, at the heart of it, it’s volleyball,” Wunder-
lich said. “It’s just this feeling of being a part of it, even
when you’re not on the court. I would challenge anyone
to go watch the tournament and not feel it.”
Six new golf champs in the Oregon Coast Invitational
The Astorian
some sort of record Satur-
day, July 27, at the Asto-
ria Golf & Country Club,
where six fi rst-time cham-
pions were crowned in all
six divisions of the Oregon
Coast Invitational.
Pretty impressive, con-
sidering the annual tourna-
ment has been around since
A few previous champi-
ons came close to winning
again — but all came up
short in Saturday’s champi-
onship fl ight fi nals.
A few of the new cham-
pions had waited a long
time for their titles, includ-
ing Super Senior winner
Gaylord Davis and Wom-
en’s Seniors champ Mary
Gary Henley/The Astorian
Gretchen Johnson raises her hat to the crowd, following her
championship win over Lara Tennant, left.
The men’s Seniors cham-
pion, Tom Mulfl ur, avenged
a tough loss to his oppo-
nent of two years ago to win
Saturday’s fi nal, while Jim
Alder of Pumpkin Ridge
Golf Club was a fi rst time
champion in the Junior/
Seniors division.
Holzgang of Tigard had
a big week on the North
Coast. He earned medal-
ist honors in the qualifying
round a week earlier in the
Grand Champions division,
then won the match play
title Saturday against former
champ Anthony Arvidson.
And the third time was
the charm for 33-year-old
Gretchen Johnson, who had
the “feel good” victory of
the tournament, winning the
Women’s title over 11-time
champion Lara Tennant,
after coming close the last
two years.
“This is my third year
playing in (the OCI),” said
Johnson, who trailed for
most of Saturday’s match
with Tennant. “I was medal-
ist and got to the fi nals my
fi rst year, and couldn’t quite
close the door. And last
year, I was up in the semi’s
and in a good position, but
couldn’t close it out. This
year I was fortunate enough
to come out on top.”
She held a 1-up lead
through the fi rst three holes,
before Tennant pulled even
on the fourth, then led (by
as much as 3-up) for the
remainder of the morning
Johnson trimmed her
defi cit to 1-down over the
fi rst six holes of the after-
noon round, and the two
were even for most of holes
25 through 30.
Johnson took a 1-up lead
on the 13th hole (31st over-
all), but nearly lost it on the
Tennant’s second shot
rolled within feet of the cup,
while Johnson’s second shot
landed on the side of a sand
Her shot out of the bunker
was still farther away than
Tennant’s ball, but Johnson
hit a long putt from the edge
of the green, while Tennant
narrowly missed her putt,
leaving Johnson with her
1-up lead still intact.
Johnson hit another nice
putt on 17, then was able to
play the 18th safely to end
the match.
“I had two great up-and-
downs on 16 and 17,” John-
son said. “I had kind of a
‘hanger lie’ on 16 that I
thought would go right,
but I closed it a little bit
and pugged it left,” into the
“Then I hit a pretty good
bunker shot, and a 20-footer
for par,” she said. “Then on
17 I thought I hit a great
iron, but the wind pushed
it over the green. I had a
pretty good chip after that,
then made another eight- or