ORLANDO, Fla. (June 28, 2016) – More than 27,000 athletes from across the country bumped, set and spiked their way through the 43rd annual AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships last week in Central Florida.
The eight-day event, which has held the title of largest volleyball event in the world since 2012, attracted approximately 40,000 spectators, 9,000 coaches and a University Athlete record 502 college coaches. It drew an expected $52 million to the Central Florida area with participants and their families visiting local hotels, shops, restaurants and other local businesses.
Still, the greatest impact to the Orlando area may not be measured by dollar amounts or attendance numbers.
Prior to the first day of competition, hundreds of participants – athletes, families and referees – joined together to pack 40,000 meals for underprivileged youth in Orlando in partnership with Feeding Children Everywhere.
“I strongly believe we should do more in athletics than just provide events,” said Dr. Roger J. Goudy, President/CEO of the AAU. “We're trying to do some positive things in addition to being a sports provider. That's important for the student-athletes in our programs. I want us to provide a great athletic experience and also include some kind of social responsibility and an awareness of giving back."
Throughout the event, many of the more than 75,000 event attendees donated to the OneOrlando Fund, established by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to assist victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Participants were invited to write notes on banners and game-used volleyballs that will be taken to survivors of the shooting who were hospitalized in Orlando. As of last week, 19 still were hospitalized.
“We are part of this community,” Goudy said. “We want to be part of that group that helps bounce back. We [had] 2,330 teams here and it’s an unbelievable opportunity to show that we care.”
The AAU also rolled out their AAU Proud program, an integral piece to the AAU Cares initiative, which allowed children ages 4-7 years old to enjoy a non-competitive type of sport in order to include them in the AAU’s increasingly popular volleyball event.
The event included teams from 43 states and 11 nations.
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