With wide stretches of powdery, quartz crystal sand, occasionally cooled by a Gulf sea breeze, Siesta Key Public Beach is prime property for big-time volleyball and soccer tournaments.
Having claimed Dr. Beach's 2011 Best Beach in America award, Siesta Beach has some of the softest sand in the world, world-class accommodations and an island lifestyle as kick-back as its swaying palms.
"It's just a gorgeous location for a tournament," professional beach volleyball player Kristen Batt said. "You kind of get that small-town atmosphere and have almost the whole community that gets involved and comes out to support the tournament."
The beach's exceptional width - about 400 yards -- allows event promoter Chris Colgan to set up between 40 and 50 volleyball nets for a tournament. "We want to try to make Siesta Key the No. 1 place for beach volleyball in the state," Colgan said.
Sarasota County Parks and Recreation beach event manager Jonathan Poyner expects to add beach soccer tournaments that, with about 15 adjacent courts, would cover half the beach and leave plenty of open powder for the public. "And because the sand never gets hot," Poyner said, "you can have beach soccer at midday in July and your feet won't get burned."
Aside from the glorious attributes that make Siesta Beach a sport enthusiast's paradise, athletes, coaches and their families travel for the hospitable accommodations and first-class dining. Siesta Key is a short drive from Michael's on East Restaurant, the Broken Egg Restaurant and Gallery of Siesta Key, as well as Marina Jack. Stay near Siesta Beach's iridescent Gulf waters at The Inn on Siesta Key, Banyan Tree Beach Resort & Vacation Rentals or the Sarasota Surf & Racquet Club, to name a few.
And did someone say: "Free parking"?
"It's one of the few beaches with free parking," pro volleyball player Chara Harris said. "And the wildlife areas are completely untouched. It looks completely untouched and on top of that it's not that tourist trap like Clearwater with a million people walking up and down -- all that riffraff. This is a calm Florida feel."
Siesta Beach is home to USA Volleyball tournaments such as the Corona Light Wide Open, which attracts the top volleyball players in the country, including USA Volleyball legend Karch Kiraly, who in a June 2011 tournament put up a $10,000 bonus for players in the men's and women's open.
The country's top-rated beach also is home to the Dig the Beach Volleyball Series in which more than 600 Florida athletes participated, as well as many collegiate tournaments such as Fiesta on Siesta Key.
"Wherever I go on the East Coast of Florida it seems like there's always a lot of wind and a lot of rain, and beach volleyball is a huge control game anyway," Batt said, "but when you add the wind element there's just a lot of strategy and adjusting your game to fit whatever wind you're dealing with. At Siesta, there's usually like a 13 mph breeze. So you get that nice sea breeze."
No doubt, Siesta Key is a beach soccer and volleyball mecca in the making.
To reserve Siesta Key Public Beach for sporting events, call (941) 861-5000 and ask for Poyner.