Natural Retreats Sponsors Teams for Emerald Coast Volleyball Week

Natural Retreats proudly sponsored both an all-female and a coed team that competed in the annual Emerald Coast Volleyball Week, considered one of the largest East Coast sand volleyball tournaments. Each year, Florida’s Emerald Coast hosts two premiere volleyball events—this spring event and the Emerald Coast Fall Classic. These 5-day competitions take place on The Boardwalk of Okaloosa Island with access to the large white-sand beaches of Fort Walton.

Perfect for hosting tournaments, this Florida beach housed over 65 courts, set up by hand, spanning 3 miles along the coast. They not only hold games for roughly 500 teams—but they also feature a multitude of volleyball activities like Bring Your Own Partner, Kid of the Beach, and the famous Fudpucker 4 Player (also known as “FUDS”).

“Fudpucker is a restaurant chain that used to have volleyball courts at each of their locations, and the tournament grew out of that,” said Frankie Brown, former professional volleyball player that joined our all-female FUDS 4 Player team. She won one of these Emerald Coast tournaments nearly eight years ago with her cousin, “It’s always been about having fun.”

Our all-female sponsored beach volleyball team on Fort Walton Beach.

Roughly 500 teams participated at this year's Emerald Coast Volleyball Week.

This tournament is a chance for volleyball players of all levels to improve their skills, compete against some of the best players in the division, and enjoy the game. Here’s how our team stacked up:

  • Casey Justice: Our Account Manager at Natural Retreats has been competing in these events since she was part of the Junior FUDS competition; she played volleyball in college at the University of North Florida and once dreamed of going pro before sustaining an injury.

  • Frankie Brown: Former professional player who participated throughout college while on a scholarship at Florida Tech and eventually traveled overseas to Europe to pursue her career.

  • Sarah Miller: Miller also played throughout college for Long Beach City College and was trained by Misty May-Treanor, a three-time Olympic gold medalist. This was her first time playing in this tournament.

  • Sydney Small: Small has been Justice’s beach volleyball partner for years since they played together at the University of North Florida, and she has competed in this event before.

  • This Florida beach housed over 65 courts for games. [Photo Credit: Emerald Coast Volleyball]

    This is the back side of our Natural Retreats branded tank tops.

    While both teams did a great job, our all-female team nearly came out on top with 4-1 over the course of this single-elimination tournament. This is impressive considering they had never played together before. Justice explains, “Our first game of the entire weekend was my favorite part because all four of us had never played together before, but we really meshed well and won.”

    While they dominated their first four games, sadly they were eliminated on Sunday. Even though they didn’t win, the team members explained that it was about more than the prize money and getting the win. “It’s about reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in years. I, personally, enjoy the friendships,” said Justice about returning to Emerald Coast Volleyball Week.

    Brown tacked on, “As a stay-at-home mom who suffered from postpartum depression, I feel like I gained myself back. I returned to being a social butterfly and just having fun.” Brown took a break from volleyball to raise her kids, but explained that this year is her “comeback year” to train and get back into tournaments—and even try to qualify for the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP).

    Natural Retreats sponsorship helped out teams with airfare, accommodations, and so much more.

    Casey, Frankie, Sarah, and Sydney all show off their Natural Retreats branded tank tops.

    Even though they were busy playing volleyball and winning games, this Natural Retreats-sponsored team was able to hype up our company to the crowd of spectators and players by wearing eye-catching tank tops and talking about our company. “We made an announcement about NR and all the destinations we offer and let the volleyball world know we have gorgeous places to rent when they travel around,” said Justice.

    She continued, “We are so appreciative of the sponsorship, and were honored to rep NR for the weekend!” The sponsorship afforded her and her teammates the cost of travel, accommodations, entry fees, and more. Brown said jokingly, “It really took the pressure off, and even allowed us to buy food.”

    Our teams showed great sportsmanship and collaboration throughout the tournament and we are very proud of their accomplishments.

    This 5-day event is a great opportunity to experience the beauty of the Emerald Coast while playing the sport you love. If you are interested in staying here for the fall event, Natural Retreats, in partnership with 360 Blue, has incredible options for accommodations including chic condos and modern beach homes.
    See our collection here>>>

    Did you attend the tournament? We want to see all your photos! So please tag us at @NaturalRetreats and use the hashtag #openthedoortomore when sharing on social media.