Volleyball, a game more closely associated with summer fun, is providing some warmth for winter tourism revenue in the Smokies this year. With 325 teams scheduled to compete, the third annual K2 Wilderness at the Smokes tournament and second annual K2 Elite Invitational, hosted by Wilderness at the Smokies resort will attract approximately 14,000 athletes and spectators to Sevierville, Tenn., over two winter weekends.
Citing the benefit of year-round offerings at the resort, the tournament organizers are bringing the popular national competition back to Sevierville for a third consecutive year. While winter is traditionally a slower tourism season in the region, Wilderness at the Smokies has successfully attracted large events to the area, boosting area sales receipts in shopping, food and family activities.
The opening weekend, January 26-27, will welcome 145 teams featuring some of the south’s rising stars in volleyball clubs from the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), USA Volleyball (USAV) and the Junior Volleyball Association (JVA). On February 2, another 180 teams will join the competition, taking part in the third annual K2 Wilderness at the Smokies tournament.
In addition to almost 4,000 12-18 year-old athletes, the tournament draws approximately 14,000 spectators and supporters over the two weekends. The tournament is sanctioned by the Southern Region Volleyball Association (SRVA) and has become one of the most popular early season tournaments in the southeast.
“We are excited to be back for a third year for the Wilderness at the Smokies Tournament,” says Christine Hames, K2 Volleyball Club Director. “The number of teams attending each year continues to grow, allowing athletes the opportunity to compete against some of the best in the nation.”
The back-to-back weekend tournaments will feature 21 courts of play each weekend. Each team in the tournament will have a five-game guarantee, giving players more opportunities to square off against talented rivals.
Wilderness at the Smokies resort is one of the Southeast’s only year-round destinations for hosting sporting events. The resort is attached to the 200,000 square-foot Sevierville Convention Center, providing direct access for guests to the tournament area without having to brave winter weather if it should arrive. Wilderness at the Smokies is home to restaurants, gift shops, convenience stores, game rooms, two 18-hole championship golf courses, as well as an indoor water park and Adventure Forest – an indoor adventure center featuring ropes courses, bowling, mini golf, laser tag, and more.
The resort is owned by Patrick Helland, Pete Helland, Jr., Tim Lucke and Tom Lucke (who also own Wilderness Territory Waterpark Resort in Wisconsin). Steve Cruz is the General Manager of Wilderness at the Smokies and Ryan Willis is spokesperson for the resort. For more information about Wilderness at the Smokies, call toll-free 877-325-9453 or visit www.WildernessAtTheSmokies.com.