King of the Mountain tournament brings Olympians, enthusiasts to Vail
VAIL — Sure, the May-Treanor family may include two generations of Olympians and a Major League Baseball player, but this weekend they’re just another family enjoying volleyball in Colorado.
The King of the Mountain volleyball tournament began its 43rd installment on Friday, with hundreds of bumpers and spikers taking to the Vail courts and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Misty May-Treanor hosting her Dream in Gold clinic for kids.
“I always think of Vail as having a healthy lifestyle, everybody outside riding bikes and running, so it’s nice to bring this element here because with volleyball, you can bring a net anywhere,” Misty May-Treanor said after the clinic.
May-Treanor was introduced to the sport when a kid, playing with her parents. She entered her first tournament with her dad when she was 8. Now a mother of 1-year-old Malia, the trip to Vail was the first true family vacation they have had together.
“This was her first time on an airplane,” said Matt Treanor, Misty May’s husband and Malia’s father. “She enjoyed the drive out here, she was looking around, enjoying the scenery. It was really easy.”
It was time ever in Vail for Matt Treanor, Misty and her father Butch May, a 1968 Olympian volleyball player.
“We always said it was too far to drive and they didn’t play volleyball in Colorado, but they play volleyball here, they just kept it a secret from California,” Butch May said Friday. “What a place to look at, you can’t take it in enough. I’ve always wanted to come here, I cut myself short. I’m coming back.”
Misty May-Treanor said she is not usually able to spend much time in the places that she hosts clinics. While in Vail, however, she is making sure to stay through the weekend.
“The town really reminds me of Switzerland and Austria,” she said. “Those are two of my favorite stops on the International Tour, because they’re the greenest and you get the clean mountain air and the stream going by. It’s just like that here, I love it.”
SKILLS AND DRILLS
Edwards resident Chloe Pesso, 14, was among the large group of kids participating in the Dream in Gold clinic.
“I thought it was so much fun,” she said. “It was another perspective on how to pass, how to set, how to hit, and how to work with a team. She said she’s not best friends with Kerri Walsh Jennings, but when it comes to the court, they work together as a team as much as you can.”
Misty May-Treanor said the hard part of these clinics is the fact that in the sport of volleyball, a coach such as herself could spend a whole clinic just working on one skill. She said her goal is to give kids some drills they can practice at home which will help them see improvement when they move to the courts.
“Whether on the court or off the court, it’s having a goal and learning that it’s going to take time, nothing happens overnight, and it’s not going to be easy, but you have to be your own self-motivator,” she said.
As far as volleyball goes, however, “This is a game you can play for years and years and years,” she said. “And as long as these kids know what they’re doing, they may always enjoy the game recreationally.”
‘LIKE POWDERED SUGAR’
Playing in both the masters and seniors categories on Friday, 58-year old Paul Fair has now been enjoying volleyball for 40 years. Fair is a native of Denver and has participated in dozens of King of the Mountain volleyball tournaments dating back to the ‘70s.
On Friday, he had played nine games by late afternoon.
“And we may have a few more,” he said.
Fair plans on staying the weekend, watching some of the doubles matches and going hiking with his sons.
“Vail is wonderful. This sand might be the best sand in the state,” he said. “It’s like powdered sugar.”
Last year’s King of the Mountain tournament attracted 648 teams, making it the largest in Colorado. This year’s tournament is expected to draw even more, with teams continuing to sign up Saturday for Sunday’s father-son/father-daughter tournament. The highest level of competition will be represented by the open division, which begins in double elimination format Saturday and culminates with finals, held Sunday evening on the sand courts at the Vail Athletic Fields.
For more information or schedules, visit kingofthemountainvolleyball.com.