A popular ABQ volleyball tournament returns - Albuquerque Journal

A popular ABQ volleyball tournament returns

A popular ABQ volleyball tournament returns … with a touch of grass. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

The tournament formerly known as Mudd Volleyball is cleaning up its act – literally – as it returns to operations for the first time since 2019.

The popular event, which has typically been the largest single-day fundraiser for the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation, is making a comeback this year with a new name and location: Not-So-Muddy Grass Volleyball at Balloon Fiesta Park on July 30. Registration is $350 per team (co-ed, 8 players max, ages 18+) and closes on July 22, with each squad getting a minimum of five games.

There are cash prizes for first ($1,750) and second ($1,400) place, while third gets access to a free suite at an Albuquerque Isotopes home game.

The change in theme and location was necessitated when ownership of the property on Second Street and Rio Bravo Boulevard SW, where Mudd Volleyball was held for 25 years, changed hands.

“Like everybody, we just sort of cut back during COVID to see how things unfolded year after year. This year we were super excited because we saw things were opening up,” says Connie Chavez, Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation executive director. “We thought we could pull off another Mudd Volleyball event and just found out that the property was under contract and being sold. That was the end of that.

“Folks who are familiar with the site, it’s not like you can just go find that amount of acreage anywhere. There has to be certain site conditions: the clay in the ground, close to a water source, plenty of parking – lots of work to be done on a new place if we were even able to find one. We had to pause for just a minute and then pivot over to something that is a crossover.”

Enter Balloon Fiesta Park, which will provide enough space for 40 grass courts and up to 240 teams, which amounts to approximately 2,000 participants if everything goes as planned.

While that is considerably less than the 6,500 that played at the last mud version in 2019, organizers are nonetheless thrilled to be up and running once again.

“It’s exciting to be able to hold our events in-person,” Chavez said. “… The interest has been great … We’re looking to have a great time. Everything’s falling into place. We’d love to see folks come out and support the event and the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation.”

Many of the fun-filled elements from the previous iteration will carry over to the grass. The event will feature a “Disco or Dive!” uniform theme for the teams, and on hand will be a DJ, food trucks, beer garden and raffle with some nostalgic prizes.

“We sort of mirrored it – minus the mud,” Chavez said. “Just go in your disco outfit and dive for a ball. We’re gonna be raffling off as prizes some of the old Mudd T-shirts and volleyballs that we’ve had left over in stock from previous years, which is really gonna be fun because some folks who have done Mudd for years and years, it’ll be a nice memento for them.”

Most importantly, those who trade their mud stains for grass stains will be doing so for a good cause. UNM’s Carrie Tingley Hospital is the only pediatric rehabilitation facility in the state, and the foundation provides adaptive programs, resources and assistance for special needs children and their families.

“That’s where all the money from all our fundraisers goes, to support the hospital and our other two programs – our quality of life program, which is our adaptive sports and adaptive recreation activities, and then our patient and family program that assists our Carrie Tingley hospital families who need assistance,” Chavez said. “Sometimes it’s just meeting their basic needs: Housing, utilities, gas money or purchasing adaptive equipment, whether that be something that the insurance will not cover. So it’s really important for us to be able to do that.”

Chavez is hopeful that the grass volleyball will grow into the same type of staple that its dirtier predecessor became over the years. While she won’t rule out Mudd Volleyball making a comeback at some point, there are a lot of variables involved that would need to fall into place.

“We’re not gonna say, ‘No, never again’ because that is our hope,” she said. “All the stars would have to align to make that happen.”

If you go
WHAT: Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation Not-So-Muddy Grass Volleyball Tournament
WHEN: Saturday, July 30
WHERE: Balloon Fiesta Park, 9401 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy. NE
MORE INFO: carrietingleyhospitalfoundation.org/cthf-events/not-so-muddy-grass-volleyball

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