At the Waupaca Boatride volleyball tournament in Oshkosh, Wis., you’ll find men and women, young and old, playing volleyball in the sand and on the grass in a variety of numeric combinations, but the truly iconic and unique form of competition in this Midwestern tournament is grass triples.
Waupaca advertises itself as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Volleyball Tournament”(waupacaboatride.com), but it began as a small doubles tournament at Whispering Pine State Park in Waupaca, Wis. As more and more people heard about the tournament and wanted to play, the organizers decided to switch to a triples format so they could accommodate more players. Eventually, even with three on a team, there were too many participants for the location and the tournament organizers tried out a few new venues before settling in at Brighton Acres this year.
The 2013 Waupaca triples champs on the women’s side included Shelia Shaw, a University of Wisconsin graduate who played on the Cuervo tour last year; Jen Bowman, a former Long Beach State and Minnesota setter; and Megan Carlson, a three-time Division II national champion from Concordia University St. Paul. On the men’s side, the winning team was made up of Joseph Smalzer, the Loyola Chicago right side who led his team to the national semifinals back in May, along with Skylar Del Sol and Bill Kolinske who took fifth at the NVL Midwest Championships in July.
Local participants and those who fly in from all corners of the country to gather in Wisconsin in early July swear by this tournament, enjoying the close community atmosphere that includes camping out in the fields the entire weekend. This year, even Misty May Treanor couldn’t stay away, bringing her Dream in Gold clinic to Waupaca.