Gulf Shores is gearing up for a major beach volleyball tournament in 2016.

The NCAA® Beach Volleyball Committee selected the Gulf Shores Public Beach as the site of the 90th and newest national championship event for the association—the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship.

The championship will debut May 6-8, 2016, at the Gulf Shores Public Beach and will be hosted by the city of Gulf Shores and the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission.

The host institution for the inaugural beach volleyball championship will be the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The university and Gulf Shores have also been chosen as the hosts of the 2017 championship, which will be held May 5-7, 2017.

“We are thrilled to bring the very first NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship to Gulf Shores,” said Marilyn Moniz-Kaho’ohanohano, chair of the Beach Volleyball Committee and associate athletics director at University of Hawaii Manoa. “Gulf Shores provides a location where the sport originated ocean side and will provide a great experience for our student-athletes.”

Beach volleyball is the fastest-growing NCAA sport with 47 sponsoring schools. The addition of the beach volleyball championship will become the 45th NCAA championship administered for women.

The championship will have an eight-team bracket that will be played in a double-elimination format with teams consisting of five pairs of female student-athletes. 

After being placed on the list of emerging sports for women in 2009, beach volleyball is the fifth sport to succeed from the emerging sports program.

“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the City of Gulf Shores, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission, USA Volleyball Gulf Coast Region and Hangout Music Festival Productions to host the very first NCAA championship for beach volleyball,” said Mark Ingram, director of athletics at University of Alabama at Birmingham. “This is an exciting time for the sport and for our program. We look forward to the opportunity and helping to make this a great event.”

No stranger to hosting large sporting events, Gulf Shores has hosted the American Volleyball Coaches Association Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championship since 2012.

“The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission and Tourism Offices are beyond excited to continue our relationship with the Collegiate Beach Volleyball National Championship and to begin our partnership with the NCAA,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. “Our community has been supportive of this amazing sport for the four years the AVCA has hosted its championship here, and we are proud to help place the sport in the national spotlight even more as the NCAA begins conducting this championship.”

Bring the kids and come play volleyball on beaches near the tournament.

On the east side of Gulf Shores Public Beach are condos such as Island Winds East and West, Southern Sands, Tropic Isles, Ocean Reef and Island Tower. West of the Public Beach are Regatta, Castaways, San Carlos, Seawind and Boardwalk. Check availability here.