VAIL — With the exception of 2020, the King of the Mountain volleyball tournament has been one of the longest running athletic events in Eagle County, taking place every Father’s Day weekend since 1972.
Throughout its history, the tournament was run by Leon Fell, but Fell decided to hang it up after concluding the 47th edition of his annual event. Fell sold the tournament in July of 2019.
The tournament is now run by Volleyball of the Rockies, which kicked off the 2021 event on Thursday in the same way the King of the Mountain always begins, with the longest-playing players playing first.
Fell was there for the action.
“I wondered by today and took a look at some of the seniors and masters who were playing,” Fell said on Thursday. “Everything looked great. I’m a very happy camper to know that I got somebody in there who I think is really going to do a great job.”
In addition to the seniors, Fell said he was happy that Volleyball of the Rockies was able to attract a large youth contingent to the event again in 2021.
“I’ve always prided ourselves on our juniors program, and (Volleyball of the Rockies) has a large junior program, which they’re drawing from on the Front Range,” Fell said.
‘Everything is perfect’
Tom Davenport with Volleyball of the Rockies said the new tournament organizers received a warm welcome from the Vail Recreation District, which helps put on the tournament. Venues include Ford Park, the Vail Athletic Fields and the Red Sandstone Park volleyball court.
“The recreation district has been so helpful in making sure everything is perfect,” Davenport said.
Davenport said the tournament has attracted 550 doubles teams to Vail this year.
“It’s a really nice size,” Davenport said. “I’d say we’re a little off the six or seven hundred teams Leon attracted, but coming out of COVID, I think we’re all OK with that.”
Davenport said he thinks the tournament will be a pleasant event for everyone, including those who are still apprehensive about large events.
“You’re on your side of the net, I’m on my side of the net, and we play 10 to 20 feet apart,” he said.
Sand divisions will play on the Vail Athletic Field courts on Vail Valley Drive, and the Red Sandstone Park court on the North Frontage Road in Vail. Men’s and Women’s Open Division play will take place beginning Friday, concluding with finals at the Vail Athletic Field courts on Sunday.
The tournament will also feature grass court play at the Ford Park courts beginning Friday. Grass court play will commence with coed divisions on Friday, followed by men’s and juniors divisions on Saturday, and women’s divisions on Sunday.
While Sunday’s open division finals at the Vail Athletic Field courts will be the marquee event for spectators, the highlight for players is often the father-daughter and father-son divisions which play on the Ford Park fields. Those divisions will once again take place on Sunday, as part of King of the Mountain tradition, to coincide with Father’s Day.
For more information visit vaildoubles.com.