After two years of hiatus, the Northern Mariana Islands Volleyball Association revived the community’s interest to go out and play beach volleyball with a tournament called “Beach Volleyball Match-Up 2018” held at the Hyatt Regency Saipan sand courts last Saturday.
Almost 20 teams were organized and played in a three-member mixed squad with Team MNM, composed of Nick Gross, Mei Rengiil and Micah Paige, emerging as winners. Team MNM lost to Saipan Maniacs of Denise Myers, Jamin Richard Elliot, and Alfredo Guevarra in Game 1, 12-21, but bounced back in Game 2, 15-13, to bag the championship.
“It was a team effort as the men in the team, Micah and I, wanted Mei to get involved as much as possible and give her all the balls in the net. We just wanted to support and let her play her best today (last Saturday),” Gross said.
Gross also congratulated NMIVA for organizing a wonderful tournament. “We look forward to the next beach volleyball tournament that encourages the community to get out and be active,” he added.
Joining Team MNM and Saipan Maniacs in the Top 3 was Saipanauts Team, which had Russ Quinn, Eric O’Malley and Bailey Spaeth as players.
Almost 70 athletes from different age groups showed up and registered to play for revived tournament. The sand courts by the turquoise blue ocean at the Hyatt Regency Saipan were filled with both athletes and spectators who did not mind the scorching sun because all came for the beach, sport, and good times.
“We did this two years back and now we are trying to bring the tournament again to be able to promote volleyball and bring new people and people who have been out of it for a while.” NMIVA volunteer Kathleen Winkfield said.
“We actually had a good turnout and we are looking forward to more games. Currently, we are working that at least once a month we would have volleyball games organized and we hope we can get more support. I hope volleyball does grow to bring the community together, promote health and wellness, and provide opportunities for volleyball enthusiasts—both for first timers and volleyball athletes.” she added.
NMIVA president Laurie Paterka confirmed NMIVA’s vision of organizing games once a month.
“We have a group that is working towards trying to develop a 12-month calendar and we want to make sure that we are accommodating the indoor, beach volleyball, and also the grass tournaments that brings the indoor and beach people together which is always really fun,” she said.
“The goal is to at least have one event once a month and at present, our focus has been initially on the college age group and above because we know that there are a lot of school sports or youth activities going on. But part of the vision is to squeeze in youth activities in between tournaments,” she added.
NMC instructor Ajani Burnell made the tournament a family affair by bringing his entire family to enjoy the sun and beach and for his children to watch their parents play. “I heard about the tournament through the NMIVA Facebook page. My wife and I signed up to play and I know that events like this are welcoming to families… once we got to the venue, I was even more pleased as NMIVA had tents set-up for shade, water and sports drinks for all. There were a bunch of families there so it made for great fun both for children and adults,” he said.
“It was fun playing against my wife, Sara. We have different volleyball abilities so it was great for us to be able to participate in the same tournament and play against each other in a friendly but competitive atmosphere. We both had a blast and we’ll definitely be joining next time around,” he added.
Paterka said that NMIVA is committed to promote volleyball in the CNMI.
“We have this responsibility that we are charged with to try to grow a sport that is accessible to the community. Part of growing that sport, we are always looking for volunteers and trying to hold classes to teach how to be a referee and coach, and hold more events,” she added.