Side Rail: Collaboration leads to successful new event in Seaside

Danny Miller/EO Media Group Team Los Angeles' Alex Freire kicks the ball while facing off against Northern California in the Team USA Footvolley qualifying matches on Saturday in Seaside.

A little less than three months ago I was contacted by Meyer Freeman with the Oregon Sports Authority (the state’s sports economic development arm) about the possibility of hosting a new sporting event in Seaside. Meyer and I have worked together a handful of times over the past six years and this particular conversation seemed more promising than some of the other potential new events we had discussed.

The event we were being pitched on was something called Footvolley. In short, it’s beach volleyball meets beach soccer. The key difference is that hands and arms are not allowed to pass or spike the ball. Shoulders are allowed, but the rest of the arm is a no-no. Two players on each side, a maximum of three hits per side, while players volley the ball over the net just like volleyball. Hearing or reading about it alone makes it sound pretty difficult. And how in the world can a volley back and forth (with legs, body and head) be sustained? Just Google it. You’ll see what I mean.

After that initial pitch on April 18, conversations moved very quickly. A week later the pitch was changed. The USA Footvolley Association didn’t just want to do an event in Seaside, they now wanted to host the USA National Qualifier on our beach, with a ticket to Rio de Janeiro (home of the 2016 Summer Olympic) on the line. Footvolley will be a demonstration sport in 2016, with the hopes of growing into an official medal sport in the future. Did I mention that this event needed to happen before July? Two months from the time of this second conversation. All partners would have to move quickly. Event permits needed to be approved and organization needed to begin immediately. Many wondered if it could be accomplished.

Well, if you happened to cruise past the turnaround the weekend of June 25 and 26, you would have noticed that the event did happen and culminated with an incredible final match on Sunday between Team Miami and Team Los Angeles. L.A. was the heavy favorite and won the first set 21-13. The outcome seemed inevitable. That was until Miami scored the first 10 points of the second set and gained every ounce of momentum from the several hundred people that had gathered to watch. Miami won set two, setting up a final set for the right to represent the U.S. in Rio. Led by the energy of Sergio Menezes (president of the U.S. Footvolley Association), who was partnered with the extremely skilled Lucas Roque, Miami claimed set three by the score of 15-11 to punch their ticket. It was a fantastic conclusion to a busy two months.

While the City of Seaside Visitors Bureau and Oregon Sports Authority partnered to sponsor the event, the Seaside Chamber of Commerce contributed countless hours of setup and breakdown time, along with logistical support. Without that final, integral piece, the event likely wouldn’t have happened. Their experience hosting other beach sports events like soccer and traditional beach volleyball allowed this event to run incredibly well. I am extremely grateful for their partnership.

Part of the agreement was that the championship match would be videotaped and given to Root Sports Network for potential television distribution. The feeling is that it will air later this month. The icing on the cake: the footvolley group enjoyed their time here so much, they are already talking about a return to Seaside and possibly as a stop on the U.S. Pro Footvolley Tour.

Have a thought or a question about tourism in Seaside, or maybe an idea for a future column? Drop me an email at Jon Rahl is the director of tourism for the Seaside Visitors Bureau and assistant general manager of the Seaside Civic & Convention Center.­­­

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