Cheerleading, softball, volleyball, basketball and more come play at the beach!
by Jonathan Paris, executive director of Sports Tourism, Visit Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach welcomes thousands of athletes annually in sports such as track, baseball, softball and basketball in addition to the visitors who come each summer to vacation and take in our beaches and attractions. While some are repeat visitors, many athletes are first timers to Myrtle Beach. Ranging from California all the way to Massachusetts, these visitors come from all the corners of the country to the Grand Strand for their summer tournaments and vacations.
At the beginning of June, more than 900 track athletes, ages 7-18, from across South Carolina competed in the USATF South Carolina Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships. This great event continues to showcase the newly renovated Doug Shaw Stadium and highlights the city of Myrtle Beach’s commitment to track and field.
Beginning in June and ending in August, the fields of Grand Park saw 10 straight weeks of action with event organizers Athletx, Triple Crown and Top Gun. Athletx held four weeks of their Summer Nationals, attracting teams from across the country in record numbers. Triple Crown returned for their 15th season in Myrtle Beach with both their baseball Summer Nationals and their fastpitch Softball East Coast Summer Nationals. And the Top Gun Baseball Summer Nationals stretched from Pawleys Island to Myrtle Beach.
At the Myrtle Beach Sports Center, youth basketball ruled the courts. There were record registrations for the National Travel Basketball Association (NTBA) in their boys and girls championships held over three weekends. And Myrtle Beach’s own Big Shots showed continued success with their NCAA-sanctioned basketball showcase tournaments. Shaking it up a bit, USA Team Handball hosted their 2018 USA Club Championships in May attracting 30 teams from across the country in this largely European sport.
These are just a few of the events and championships we have hosted over the past several months. Rest assured there were plenty more in cheer, dance, softball and volleyball to name just a few!
What’s new on the horizon? eSports is the growing phenomenon in the sports tourism world. With the gaming world exploding with games such as Fortnite, Overwatch, and League of Legends, the new frontier of sports events is not on a court or field, but with a gaming system and behind a screen. In July, I attended an eSports summit bringing together event owners, eSports teams, venues, and destinations to learn how to work together in this new and growing segment of our industry.
The fall is a busy time for sports industry tradeshows and conferences and Myrtle Beach will be well represented. In August, we attended the Connect Sports Marketplace, in September, we will be attending the S.P.O.R.T.S. Conference, and in October, we are headed to the TEAMS and USOC Olympic SportsLink. These will be excellent opportunities to showcase the Grand Strand and all we have to offer to event owners and organizers.
As we look to the future, we are focused on continuing to offer great service to our existing events to ensure they return to Myrtle Beach, while staying on the forefront of new events and opportunities.