PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – While the effects of red tide continue to hammer the Tampa Bay coastline, organizers of a beach volleyball tournament confirm they are still hosting it on Treasure Island this weekend.
“It is good right now until we hear anything else, obviously, from the city,” explained Isabella Thayer-Persaud, who is one of the owners of SSOVA, Sunshine State Outdoor Volleyball Association. “If they were to say the irritants were too bad for us to be out there, we wouldn’t be.”
The depth of the beach, which puts plenty of space between the volleyball courts and the water, is extremely helpful considering the circumstances.
“It is a long hike,” said Thayer-Persaud. “Normally, we do not even see the ocean, honestly, when we go there for tournaments because we are so busy with the volleyball closer to the boardwalk so this weekend should be good to go.”
She added she has heard players have been unable to play volleyball on the outdoor courts at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg.
“Some people are going to go out there and tough it out because beach volleyballers will do almost anything to play volleyball, even put themselves at risk, but there are a lot of people who are not going to be able to play in those areas where the respiratory irritants are high,” said Thayer-Persaud.
She has been playing volleyball for about two decades and she recalls being affected by the red tide in the past.
“I was not able to play,” she said, “but as long as the winds keep shifting, we are good on the beach. If it gets worse it will definitely impact our ability to play quality volleyball.”
The tournament, which starts around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, is still accepting teams but you must register before the 3 p.m. deadline. It should be finished by Sunday evening.
If you are interested in serving the surrounding community, SSOVA is also spearheading a beach cleanup effort on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can meet them on the beach behind the Bilmar Beach Resort. They will be standing by their yellow popup tent.
“We cannot play beach volleyball without the beach,” said Thayer-Persaud, “so it is super important to us that, not only are we taking care of ourselves and each other, but that we are going the extra mile to watch out for our community.”