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Six Man keeps tradition alive

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Raffe Paulis of Team Rock & Brews spikes the ball as Yoseleder Cala of Team Spyder goes for a block at the 55th annual Charlie Saikley Six-Man Volleyball Tournament this weekend. Team Spyder would go on to claim the Men’s Open title. Photo by Parnia Mazhar

Raffe Paulis of Team Rock & Brews spikes the ball as Yoseleder Cala of Team Spyder goes for a block at the 55th annual Charlie Saikley Six-Man Volleyball Tournament this weekend. Team Spyder would go on to claim the Men’s Open title. Photo by Parnia Mazhar

by Parnia Mazhar

Jay Saikley still hand draws the pairings bracket for the Charlie Saikley Six-Man Volleyball Tournament.

It’s a technique that most tournament directors no longer bother with, but one that Saikley prides himself on. And, for a tournament so steeped tradition, it seems to work just fine.

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“A lot of the people at the tournament are the same ones who knew my father who started the event around 50 years ago,” Saikley said. “They have and continue to love and respect it just as much as I do, and that’s what I love about this event.”

This year marked the 55th staging of the light-hearted volleyball tournament in which men and women, professionals and amateurs, locals and visitors don costumes and dig into the sand south of the Manhattan Beach Pier. With its dedicated spectators and high-level volleyball, the tournament has come to embody what residents love about their hometown

Forty six teams were grouped into four categories: Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Men’s Masters and Women’s Masters. The tournament drew several professional players, including Olympians Sean Rosenthal and Mike Lambert.

After losing to Team Rock & Brews in the first final match, the Spyder team took home the Men’s Open championship in a closely fought finale.

“I’ve done this for 10 years and even more than winning, I look forward to just being with these guys,” team Spyder founder and captain Jim Kjar said. “They come from all over the country to play for me and give it their all and that’s what really matters.”

The Redneck Angels prevailed in the Women’s Open, Wicked ’87 in Men’s Masters and Sandpiper in Women’s Masters.

An estimated 1000 people watched this year’s tournament, a significant drop from five years ago, when more than 60,000 revelers stormed the beach, many of whom were drawn more to partying than volleyball. The raucous atmosphere inspired officials to move the tournament to weekdays from its historical slot on Saturday and Sunday.

But for some participants, the drop-off in attendance has hurt the tournament. A common view was that it should take place later in the week in hopes of bringing back some of the enthusiasm of past years.

“I think a fair compromise is moving the tournament to Friday and Saturday because more supporters adds to the fun,” said David Smith, a coach and player for Team Rock & Brews.

Saikley and many others agree that as long as there are regulations, moving the tournament to later in the week could only benefit the event and give it the respect it deserves.

Even so, the tournament still stands out in an increasingly crowded beach volleyball landscape for its unique blend of talent and moxy.

“This tournament is one of a kind, because a regular person gets to play against the best volleyball players from all over the world,” Saikley said.

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