WILDWOOD CREST, N.J. – The sixth annual Ukrainian Sports Federation of the U.S.A. and Canada (USCAK) National Beach Volleyball Tournament was held on an absolutely perfect Friday, August 25, during “Ukrainian Week” on the beach behind the Pan American motel. Organized and hosted by Lys Sports Academy of Whippany, N.J., the tournament was sponsored by Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union and Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union of Philadelphia.
Registration began bright and early on Friday morning at a tent decorated with the sponsors’ banners. In order to participate, teams needed to be affiliated with USCAK member clubs, such as Chornomorska Sitch, Lys Sports Academy, Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization, Ukrainian American Sports Center Tryzub or the Ukrainian American Youth Association. Nine teams registered for the tournament.
The tournament began at 10 a.m. with opening ceremonies. The national anthems of Canada, Ukraine and the United States were played. Roman Bulawski, the tournament director, welcomed the players and described general rules. Mr. Bulawski then introduced Myron Bytz, USCAK president, who officially opened the tournament with words of welcome, encouraging participants to play their best and, especially, to have fun.
The teams registered in Division A: “Babushkas,” “??,” “Low Expectations” and “Rooftop Pavers.” The teams registered in Division B were: “ROMMA,” “Chornomortsi,” “Toro,” “New Friends” and “All Upside.”
The play format was round robin within the two divisions and at the end of round robin play, the teams were ranked within each division by the number of wins and losses, with the top two teams qualifying for the semifinals. The top two teams in Division A were Babushkas and Rooftop Pavers; the two top teams of Division B were ROMMA and New Friends.
The semifinals were held by pairing the first place of Division A, Babushkas, against the second place team of Division B, New Friends, in what turned out to be the “Canadian” semifinal. Babushkas won both games and advanced to the final for their second year in a row. In the other semifinal match, the first place of Division B, ROMMA, played the second place of Division A, Rooftop Pavers, in what turned out to be the “American” semifinal. ROMMA won both games to advance to the “international” final.
The final was held between two very competitive and talented teams, ROMMA and Babushkas. It is interesting to note that the Babushkas from Toronto were made up of two young sons, Lukash Darewych (age 14) and Christian Petrenko (age 15), playing with their fathers, Roman Darewych and Taras Petrenko. The boys’ level of play and their competitive performance was even better than it had been the year before, when they first set the tone for future generations of USCAK beach volleyball tournaments.
A large, supportive crowd gathered to watch the finals, with spectators anticipating a hotly contested match. The final match was exciting, with a high caliber of play and excellent displays of sportsmanship and athleticism. All games in the final were very close; in the end Babushkas prevailed to become 2017 USCAK beach volleyball champions by winning the third and deciding set 18-16.
After the final match, the tournament trophy was presented to team Babushkas. The winner of the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award – and a new volleyball – was Roman Darewych.
The tournament was pronounced a great success by all involved, and plans are already being made for next year’s event.