The Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a youth volleyball tournament that brought 115 teams from cities across the country to Lafayette.
Teams are participating in the Rajun Cajun Classic tournament across six Lafayette recreation centers: Comeaux, Domingue, Dupuis, Girard Park, Martin Luther King, and Robicheaux Recreation centers. Games are being held Saturday until 8 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Typically hosted by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette at the Earl K. Long Gym and Bourgeois Hall, this year's tournament saw a change in venue due to COVID-19 restrictions. But officials don't anticipate the change of venue will have negative impacts.
"The tournament will provide a much needed boost to the hospitality sector this weekend," said Ben Berthelot, President and CEO of Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission. "We estimate the players, coaches and their families will infuse more than $300,000 into the local economy during their time here."
"Attracting events like this tournament not only draws in tourism dollars, especially at a time when our businesses have been affected by the pandemic," said Mayor-President Josh Guillory. "But also shows our city and parish appeal to people around the country."
Those teams from around the country usually play in Atlanta or Houston, where tournaments like this are typically held, explained Quinci Hayward, head coach of the 16U Bayou Elite team out of Baton Rouge.
"Keeping it close is good for family to see and give kids a sense what it'll be like for when it opens up," said Hayward.
A lot of tournaments this year have been canceled this year due to the pandemic, so Hayward said the players enjoy being able to play close to home and having the chance to invite their loved ones to watch them play has been great.
Parks and Recreation Athletic Programs Supervisor Walter Guillory said the tournament is a win for the department because it could create more opportunities for Lafayette to host more youth sports events in the future.
"Large-scale tournaments benefit players who enjoy competitive sports, and it's always a positive for our community when we attract more visitors," Walter Guillory said.
And Hayward encourages more who may enjoy to competitive sports to participate, especially in volleyball. Doing so can build team bonding and discipline, traits players can carry throughout their personal and work lives, she said.
To find out more information on Louisiana youth volleyball teams, click here. For more information on the Rajun Cajun Classic, contact Walter Guillory at 337-291-8375.
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