[caption id="attachment_376347" align="alignright" width="391"] Coed fours at Grant Park Beach. Photo by Volley Life LLC[/caption]
In just over two months, summer will be quickly approaching and Bradford Beach will be primed for a full season of sunbathing, fitness classes, tiki bars and, of course, volleyball.
Volleyball, including leagues and competitions, attracts thousands of people to the beach each summer, but this year, Tomás Goldsmith, owner of Milwaukee-based Volley Life LLC, plans to take it to the next level.
The company was recently contracted by Milwaukee County Parks to manage Bradford's volleyball offerings, replacing previous operator SURG Restaurant Group, which departed from that role earlier this year.
Goldsmith had worked for SURG as volleyball manager at the beach for a few years before launching Volley Life in 2017, with hopes of eventually taking over operations at Bradford and other places throughout Milwaukee, he said.
Last summer, the company worked with the county to organize volleyball leagues and tournaments at Grant Park Beach in South Milwaukee, attracting a total of about 100 players. The league will return to that beach this summer, with additional teams and days.
"(The county) liked what we did at Grant Park, so they expressed their interest," Goldsmith said.
Volley Life will offer league play at Bradford Beach five nights per week starting May 29 until Aug. 27. It includes three levels of the traditional coed sixes as well as men's and women's coed doubles for more serious players, setting the league apart from most bar-sponsored leagues, Goldsmith said.
Registration for leagues at Bradford Beach and Grant Park will be open until May 24 on Volley Life's website.
"I wanted to make sure the volleyball community continues to grow and that players like myself have a place to play," he said. "Beach (volleyball) is a great way to expand your game and improve your skills."
Both adult and youth tournaments will be held at Bradford Beach and Grant Park this summer, with the first tournament taking place on May 25. Volley Life is also offering youth beach volleyball camps at Grant Park for middle school and high school athletes.
With 26 volleyball courts, Goldsmith is aiming to have about 400 teams participate in Bradford's league this summer. That's between 2,000 and 3,000 players, he said.
Volley Life aims to provide the best possible experience for players, Goldsmith said, which includes necessary upkeep of the beach's courts. Nets will be adjusted frequently and lines will be removed nightly so the sand can be groomed.
Milwaukee County Parks is currently seeking an operator for the beach's tiki bars, which were also previously operated by SURG. Goldsmith said he expects to work closely with the selected vendor.
"We both have a lot to benefit from," he said.