Local Volleyball Tournaments to Be a Boost to Area Economy

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All of the hype every fall surrounds football.

We get it. We’re huge fans of the pigskin, too.

But off in the shadows of football’s brightly-lit spotlight each fall is volleyball. And locally, we’re awfully good at that sometimes-forgotten sport — maybe even among the most talent-rich in the entire state.

Area volleyball is expected to thrive again in 2019 after sending multiple teams to the Pontchartrain Center last year, including a back-to-back State Champion in Vandebilt Catholic.

Local coaches say the sport has grown so much in the past 10-20 years with participation numbers up around all of the schools in the Houma-Thibodaux area.

“It’s just amazing to see,” longtime H.L. Bourgeois volleyball coach Peter Verret said. “We have experienced coaches like me, like Coach (Chip) Didier, like Coach (Sandy) Fussell but now, there’s these new, energetic young minds — many of them were coached by us. The sport has just grown and grown and it’s been amazing to see and be part of.”

Now, local coaches are thinking next level.

This fall, our area will host two separate huge events — to showcase the talent in the area, but events which will also have a huge benefit to the local economy.

H.L. Bourgeois will host their annual Lady Braves Classic from Sept. 12-14 — an event which features some of the best teams in the state.

Verret said the tournament was like “Baby Pontchartrain Center” because many of the teams competing will head to the State Tournament later in the fall.

Verret said he has teams from every direction of the state, which will benefit H.L. Bourgeois volleyball, but also the area because of the influx of people the event will bring into Houma.

“The hotels around the area are booked full for that weekend,” Verret said. “It’s just a great, great thing to see.”

Once H.L. Bourgeois hosts its event, the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center will have its turn to shine on Oct. 11-12 for the Terrebonne Tiger Classic.

That event will feature more than 20 teams from around the state, according to Lady Tigers coach Craig Hamner.

There will be multiple courts working throughout the event and Hamner said his event, too, will cover geography all around the state.

“We have almost all of Louisiana covered,” Hamner said. “We took a lot of pride in getting a lot of teams together for what we believe will be a great event.”

For fans, the tournaments will be a showcase of talent.

But for the area, it’ll be a rehearsal for what they hope is more in the future.

Hamner said he believes the Civic Center is wanting to use the Terrebonne Tiger Classic to showcase itself as a premiere sports venue — something the building has been trying to do since Dean Schouest became director in 2018.

The Civic Center has been in the running to host the LHSAA State Tournament in years past, but was never able to secure the winning bid.

But Hamner said he’d love to someday see Houma be the host of the prestigious tournament.
The October event will be a showcase of the power of athletics and the wonderful things that being an athletic hub can do for a community — something that he and other coaches in the area hope sparks a fire for more events in the future.

Athletics are a multi-billion dollar industry in America.

At the professional level, ticket sales, jersey sales, shoe sales and memorabilia, alone generate countless millions of dollars.

At the local youth and high school sport levels, money is wide-ranging from hotel rooms, which spills over into restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and sports equipment stores — all which should be full during both volleyball events.

By comparison, the Manning Passing Academy attracts close to 1,000 campers to Thibodaux each summer. Studies have shown the event to have a multi-million dollar impact to Thibodaux’s economy.

These two events should bring close to 1,000 players into the area, which should likely have similar impacts.

“The hotels will be full. The restaurants will get business. I think it’s just great for everyone,” Hamner said. “We think it’s going to be a great weekend and we’re anxious to get on the floor.” •