International Volleyball

Gulf Shores, Alabama, excited and prepared to host NCAA Beach once again

Gulf Shores, Alabama, excited and prepared to host NCAA Beach once again

GULF SHORES, AL – MAY 07: The Florida State Seminoles take on the LSU Tigers during the Division I Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship held on May 7, 2022 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Grassroot efforts and grit – Alabama white-sand grit – have led the fast-growing sport of beach volleyball to an unlikely coast. The NCAA Beach Volleyball National Championship has called Gulf Shores, Alabama, home since its inception in 2016, but collegiate champions were crowned on Alabama’s beaches long before the sport became NCAA-sanctioned.

Kathy DeBoer, executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and a crucial partner in beach volleyball’s success, said it best: “Transforming a vision into reality takes entrepreneurial partners as well as mission-driven organizations. We had both in the Gulf Shores community, the NCAA and the 90+ institutions who have added beach volleyball. The result is a dream that has come to life.”

This visionary has served 17 years with AVCA contributing greatly to beach volleyball joining NCAA’s emerging sport list, making a way for the first AVCA in 2012. The AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships took place in Gulf Shores from 2012-2015, establishing the coastal community as a home of collegiate beach volleyball.

With the steadfast support of the city of Gulf Shores, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), AVCA, the Gulf Coast Region of USA Volleyball and the Pleasure Island Volleyball Club, Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Sports & Events formally bid on the NCAA championship. Gulf Shores won the bid and has the event through 2024. The event moves to Huntington Beach, California, in 2025.

“We were hopeful with our history hosting the AVCA championships that Gulf Shores would be considered, but we had no idea what the powerhouse in collegiate athletics would think or expect,” said Beth Gendler, president and CEO of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism and GSOB Sports & Events. “The Hangout restaurant operations team and the city of Gulf Shores build the site from the sand up each year, and so much sweat goes into transforming a pristine beachfront into a championship site for the best teams in the country to compete with live ESPN coverage.”

UAB, the host institution for the NCAA championship and one of two Division I beach programs in the state, has been an integral partner since the AVCA…

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