Wilderness hosts huge Southeast volleyball tournaments

Feb. 05, 2013 @ 12:12 AM

In case you missed it, the past two weekends featured some of the best middle school and high school club volleyball in the Southeast, attracting over 14,000 athletes and spectators to the area.

The K2 Wilderness at the Smokies and K2 Elite Invitational tournaments welcomed over 320 volleyball teams to the Wilderness at the Smokies resort.

"It's just a great location for the tournament," said Christine Hames, director of the K2 Volleyball Club based in Blount County. "It already has a touristy feel so people like coming into the area, and the setup at the convention center is amazing, one of the best I've seen."

Hames said the tournaments have become well known in the Southeast, which has helped the events grow from 120 teams to the current maximum allowed.

When she first organized the tournaments, she considered other convention centers but settled on the Sevierville Convention Center because of all the Wilderness had to offer.

"For us it was the deal with the water park and already having the courts; it seemed a good fit for us," Hames said. "And just the feel here."

Wilderness spokesperson Ryan Willis said the resort was sold out over the weekends.

“And many families will also be staying at other local hotels and spending money at area restaurants, attractions and shopping malls," Willis said. "It will be a great boost to the local economy during a typically slower time for tourism in the Smokies."

Although the format of the tournaments hasn't changed much in the last three years, Hames said the competition certainly has.

"We have seen the level of play improve over the last few years," she said. "We've had some college coaches come to see the girls, and that's kind of neat. And word-of-mouth has brought a lot of teams to the tournament."

rhargett@themountainpress.com