Restoring Southern California's Wetlands Video
Coming July 28th... Toes Beach
The Gillis Volleyball Tournament was started in 1971 by Steve and Dave Cressman at Gillis Beach, in Playa del Rey, California. That first year, 17 teams participated, playing on one court. At this year’s 40th tournament, there will be 170 teams with over 600 players, playing on 28 courts.
Gillis Beach was named after a one block-long street in Playa del Rey called Gillis Street that ended at the sand. Junior high and high schoolers from Westchester High and St. Bernards High learned what the Southern California beach lifestyle was all about. The beach shoreline community was wiped out though in 1974 by expansion of the LA Airport’s west runway. Although the neighborhood and homes were gone, The Gillis tournament continued there until 1980. It was that year when the city dredged the marina of sand and dumped it on Gillis Beach, destroying the 10 courts that had been built over the previous 10 years. The tournament was then forced to moved to Toes Beach, 1 mile north, for a run of 25 years. In 2005 the county forced another move on The Gillis to the southern-most point of Playa del rey called Dockweiler Beach. The history of Playa del Rey and of Gillis Beach is preserved through the tournament each year as a reunion for those that grew up here. This makes the Gillis a “locals” event like none other.
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