ALTON — Lts. Bryan and Teri Ellison announce the Alton Salvation Army will host the inaugural Red Shield Mud Bug Classic Mud Volleyball Tournament June 10-12 on the north side fields at Gordon Moore Park.
“Coming from Minnesota, mud volleyball isn’t a big thing, but in speaking to Greg (Gelzinnis), our director of community outreach, he told us there was a long history of mud volleyball at the Alton Expo and we just decided that it was time to bring it back,” Bryan Ellison said.
The tagline of the tournament is Play Dirty Against Homelessness, and proceeds will go toward the Alton Corps’ homeless ministry and outreach. In particular, the tournament will provide assistance for ongoing expenses of the Booth House Men’s and Women’s emergency shelter. The men’s shelter is the only one in Madison County.
“The idea for the classic started formulating when I came on board last fall as the kettle coordinator as a way to broaden our fundraising mix outside of our annual Red Kettle campaign at Christmas time,” Gelzinnis said. “The events in Ferguson were also fresh in my mind, and I felt like this tournament could go a long way in continuing to bring our community together in a fun and nostalgic way. I know that Police Chief Simmons was very supportive of the idea.”
“When Greg brought the idea to us, we were excited to assist in any way that we could, and with the offer to share proceeds from the tournament’s concessions at a time when the city and department budgets are as tight as they are, it really became a win-win for us,” Park & Recreation Director Michael Haynes said.
Following the model of a successful 37-year Fourth of July tournament produced by the YMCA of Hannibal, three tournament courts will be created on the North Side Field area at Gordon Moore Park. The tournament will also feature three separate brackets, one for adults (18 and older), one for high school students (age 14 by June 10 to class of 2016 grads) and a Salvation Army Corps Bracket for all of the corps in the Midland Division. Commemorative prizes will be awarded to each of the bracket winners and a final Red Shield “King of the Mud” champion will be awarded to the final winner between the three bracket champions. All registered team members will also receive a tournament T-shirt.
“There is going to be another special aspect of the Red Shield Mud Bug Classic — an authentic crawfish boil on Saturday evening of the tournament will be shared with all of the registered teams and event sponsors,” Gelzinnis said. “We plan to bring several hundred pounds of fresh crawfish up from Louisiana just for the Classic.”
Tournament registration is open and forms can be picked up at the Alton Salvation Army, 525 Alby St., Alton. Additional information is available by calling the Alton Corps at (618) 465-7764. Early bird team registration rates will be available up through Friday, May 27, and prices will go up by $50 per team until the brackets are filled. Public admission to the three-day event is free and concessions will be available for purchase. Anyone interested in being a sponsor of the event can contact Gelzinnis at the Salvation Army-Alton Corps at (618) 465-7764 or by cellphone at (618) 550-9291. Sponsorship levels from the $3,000 Big Muddy Title Sponsor, to $500 Who Dats are now available.