July 22. 2012 6:00AM
Twenty years of mud volleyball tournament tradition brought 33 teams to Valley Springs Saturday, and it seems with Saturday’s intense heat, those not afraid to take the muddy plunge, were cool as, well, a pig in the mud.
And that’s just the reason that Brendan Muchow of Sioux Falls signed on to play with his team, Scared Hitless.
“When you get in the mud, it feels good – really it does,” he said. “That’s why the pigs do it.”
This was Muchow’s third year taking part in the town’s Booster Days-related event. So what’s his reason for Muchow’s encore?
“It’s fun!” he said. “But the bathtub’s pretty dirty afterwards.”
Mud volleyball tournament organizer Jenna Ackerman attributes Saturday’s participation of 33 teams – the most ever in the event’s 20-year history – to word of mouth.
“Facebook did a lot too,” she said. “I kept track of everybody and their emails and send them out reminders starting in May already. The deadline is always July 1.”
Ackerman, a member of the town’s Community Club, the organization which plans the annual three-day Booster Days celebration, took over the tournament from Marcy Lee. She’s the gal who introduced the event to Booster Days and is the only original member of the Valley Corner Bar team playing on Saturday.
While Ackerman doesn’t mind organizing the muddy fun, she’d rather be playing.
“I’ve played at least two or three times I’d love to be playing in it but I couldn’t do both,” she said.
Lexie Jacobsen made the short trip from Sioux Falls to Valley Springs for a day of mud volleyball action.
“A friend talked me into it,” was the reason she gave for getting muddy on Saturday.
She was also given the task of coming up with her team’s name.
“Lexie Picked It,” she answers with a smile.
Dean Helgeson of Valley Springs was relegated to the sidelines Saturday. He’s played in past years and would’ve loved to be rolling in the soupy mud. However, after breaking his leg last year in the competition and scheduled for knee surgery this week (not related to mud volleyball), he opted to cheer on the Corner Bar team.
“They keep saying I’m too old to play,” Helgeson says, “But I’ve got to be here in spirit for the group.”
His beer-drinking buddy and former Corner Bar teammate Justin Ruhlman of Valley Springs was playing in his third or fourth mud volleyball tournament.
“I’ve lived here a long time but never thought of the usual night before fun dampens my early morning spirit,” he said.
With one loss and one win in the books, the Corner Bar team was hoping to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament. But if they were dealt a second tournament-ending loss, that was OK with Helgeson and Ruhlman too.
“At least we’ve got spirit,” Ruhlman concludes.