When Brian Owen, director of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce, attended a beach volleyball tournament in Huntington Beach, Calif., he did not expect other fans to recognize the Seaside Beach Volleyball logo on his t-shirt.

“What surprised me is how well-known our event is — not only in the Northwest, not only in the nation, but in the world,” he said.

This year, the Seaside Beach Volleyball tournament takes place Thursday, Aug. 9, through Sunday, Aug. 12.

The event is an annual competition that brings players of all ages to compete in 60 divisions. “It’s become more of a culture than an event,” Owen said.

This year, Seaside Beach Volleyball is partnering with the Association of Volleyball Professionals, the largest and biggest beach volleyball tour in the U.S. “It’s really an established event that is iconic in the volleyball world,” Owen said.

A new partnership with the Association of Volleyball Professionals elevates the Seaside Beach Volleyball to a higher level of play.

“The AVP is like bringing in the NBA players,” Owen said. “You get an opportunity to see players who are highlighted on ESPN and on your national sports channels, here in Seaside.”

Beach volleyball has become a staple of Seaside summers. “We have a group of fans that show up two days before to get their chairs in the right spot,” Owen said.

The adrenaline and energy can draw you in, whether you’re a player, a sports fan or just a fan of the beach, Owen said. At center court, there is only a short banner that separates fans from players.

“You’re so close to the players,” Owen said. “You can reach out and touch them.”

There had been talk of Seaside Beach Volleyball partnering with AVP in past years, Owen said, but this year the timing was right.

“They have truly helped us elevate the quality of prizes and the quality of play,” Owen said.

AVP has brought Wilson in as a new sponsor for the tournament.

The top prizes for both the men and women’s teams have been raised by $1,000, placing the winning amount at $5,000 per team.

The AVP partnership will also attract some of the top players of beach volleyball to the tournament this year. The result is a bigger fan base.

In addition, the Seaside Beach Volleyball tournament could serve as an event for college beach volleyball recruitment, Owen said. More colleges are offering beach volleyball scholarships, and the tournament could serve as a hot spot for future players.

“You don’t have to buy a ticket to come watch the show. All you have to do is take your shoes off, come down in the sand and have a seat,” Owen said. “Everybody down there is smiling.”

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