Nancy Cothron is a fixture in the Bradenton volleyball community, but she hasn't been at Bayshore High School long. The first-year Bayshore varsity volleyball head coach previously coached at Southeast High School, plays competitively in the area and coaches a club team in Manatee County, too. Now she's trying to host her first community tournament with the hope it can become an annual Labor Day fixture.
Cothron is working with the Bruins, Manatee Area Volleyball and the Bradenton Area Sports Commission are hosting the first Ironman 3 on 3 Volleyball Tournament this weekend at a variety of locations throughout Manatee County. Entry in the tournament, which will be played on three different surfaces Saturday and Sunday, is $150 per team with proceeds benefitting Bayshore.
"Trying to raise money for Bayshore is one of the things I've been tasked with," Cothron said, "and I thought why not try it."
She first got the idea for a community tournament when she saw one down in Atlanta and right now makes the most sense. With the help of Manatee Area Volleyball, there's less liability falling upon Cothron and the Bruins.
"It's something I've al
ways wanted to do," Cothron said, "and I figured why not just try it."
Registration for the tournament is open through Thursday with space available in the elementary and middle school, girls high school, co-ed recreational and co-ed competitive divisions. Cothron has already received some interest in most divisions and hopes for at least five teams in each, although there is no limit.
The tournament begins Saturday on the grass fields at G.T. Bray park and will continue on indoor high school courts, including at BHS. The tournament concludes Sunday with playoffs at Holmes Beach.
"I would love to get more for co-ed rec," Cothron said. "Refs, parents come play. You don't have to be really good at volleyball, just come and play."
Soccer tournament time
It's not just volleyball taking over the county during this upcoming long weekend--the Labor Day Soccer Showcase will kick off Saturday at the Premier Sports Campus (PSC) in Lakewood Ranch and more than 250 teams from around Florida and the United States are expected to compete.
There are several teams from Manatee County and Sarasota County, but about 90 percent of participants come from elsewhere, making the showcase one of the biggest tourism events in Lakewood Ranch this year. Boys and girls divisions U11-U19 will all be represented at the PSC.
Games are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday with the championship game wrapping up around 3 p.m. on Labor Day.
M's wrapping up season
The Bradenton Marauders are playing their final homestand of the season at McKechnie Field this week with games against the Palm Beach Cardinals on Tuesday and the St. Lucie Mets on Thursday and Friday. All games start at 6:30 p.m., and Friday's home finale is Fan Appreciation Night in Bradenton.
The Marauders, who are the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, feature top Pirates outfield prospect Austin Meadows and top catching prospect Reese McGuire.
David Wilson, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @DBWilson2.