When I think of Aspen, I think of skiing. I think of cool fall evenings spent soaking in hot tubs with a view. I think of hiking the Ute trail, gasping for breath in the thin mountain air. I think of beautiful young Russian women dressed in designer clothes and following retired Wall Street executives around a picture perfect town square, dashing in and out of expensive restaurants where they sip exotic cocktails before heading to outrageous parties full of interesting people. Aspen is all those things, but during Labor Day weekend the town turns into a haven for volleyball players and their families.
Held over several days, the MotherLode Volleyball Classic (motherlodevolleyball.com) includes every division you could imagine. There are top-level professional beach volleyball players and aspiring juniors in the same park, enjoying the same surroundings and getting to know each other. My favorite official description appeared on the website a few years ago. It outlined the event as a small Labor Day barbeque tournament that just kept growing as players brought their friends.
Aspen has its own players as well, and these athletes go out of their way to welcome the visiting competitors and make sure they have fun. Last year, after I played our second round late in the day, my local Aspenite friend Hillary ushered us onto a bus to the Aspen Jazz Festival where we watched Kid Rock do his thing on a sunset stage outlined by the Snowmass Mountain. Unreal…and I was still sandy!
“This year,” said event director Leon Fell on the website, “the MotherLode becomes more of a ‘festival’ as it becomes a six-day tourney with the addition of a Men’s 55-over division and a Women’s 45-over division. In addition, the tournament organizers are taking pains to create a new format that allows for all participants in the multi-day divisions (Saturday–Monday) to break pool and to move into playoff competitions with the top teams moving into the ‘MotherLode Championship’ division and the rest of the teams moving into the ‘Festival’ division. Plenty of play and plenty of time for fun.”
Put simply, the grass is perfect, the surroundings are world-class, and the people are the glue that turn it all into one killer weekend that is worth the trip. I’ve “uno-dosed” (lost both games in a double elimination format) at the MotherLode and still had a great time. There is no way to lose spending Labor Day weekend in Aspen!
Indeed Mr. Fell – there is plenty of time for fun. Come see why I’m personally never ready to leave!
The Outside Edge is a preview of the major outdoor volleyball events coming up in the U.S. and will run in each of the summer issues of VBM. The column is written by Dave Kamena, president of Plastic Clothing, a volleyball performance apparel brand that sponsors many of the events. Send comments and feedback to Originally published in October 2013