In 1981 the Epperson family was just getting started in Volleyball. Anna and Lara had been playing for their Junior High school program and for the Davis Volleyball Club. The Davis VBC raised money for the girls to travel to Omaha, Nebraska to play in the Junior Olympics. Dave and Bernice helped put together several fund-raisers with the other parents.
In December of 1981 the Epperson helped organize an exhibition with the local media to promote the Volleyball program. Due to the successful organization of these events Bernice was recommended to Gary Colberg to help administer the Junior Olympics in 1982. This started with the regional tournament at Davis and Knoxville and then to the Finals in Santa Barbara.
In 1983 the Eppersons were living in Laguna Niguel when the Junior Olympics were scheduled to be played at UCLA. The natural flow had Bernice and now her husband Dave in the organization of the 1983 Junior Olympics. At this tournament the decision had been made that the Junior Olympics in 1984 was to take place in Rhode Island. Wink Davenport, the commissioner from California, was convinced that with the Olympics themselves being played in Los Angeles the California teams (representing 70% of the teams enrolled in the junior Olympics at that time from the West Coast) would be unwilling or unable to make the trip to Rhode Island. Therefore, Wink asked Bernice and Dave if they would consider running a tournament on the West Coast during the same time frame. Bernice and Dave agreed on the premise that they could use their own format that would allow for more play by all teams. This was the beginning of the Volleyball Festival format that allows equal amount of play for teams at all ability levels of the draw. Working with Santa Clara University as the girl’s site and with San Jose State University as the boys site; Bernice and Dave held the first Volleyball Festival in 1984.
For the 1985 Volleyball Festival, it was suggested that the girls and boys be at completely separate location. In this vein, Bernice and Dave ran the girls tournament at UC Davis and the boys at UC Berkeley.
In 1986, the Volleyball Festival became an all girls tournament, with 190 teams playing at UC Davis and the surrounding area. The tournament continued to grow over the years. The expansion of the Sacramento Convention Center and utilization of Cal Expo allowed the number of teams to grow to over 900 and marked the beginning of a new era for The Volleyball Festival.
In 2004, the Festival moved to Reno, Nevada to take advantage of a newly enlarged Convention Center that held 75 courts and reduced the number of playing venues to only three. After five years in Reno, the Festival moved the event to the newly expanded Phoenix Convention Center in 2009. This beautiful facility allows the Festival to utilize 107 courts in one location with hotel and university dormitory space in the immediate neighborhood.
Further expanding its roots into the greater Phoenix area, Festival Sports held the inaugural Festival Fiesta Classic over President's Day Weekend in 2013 at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The event, now in its 4th year in 2016, has grown to over 300 teams and has become an attractive annual event for teams of all levels and college recruiters early in the club volleyball season.
The Volleyball Festival offers...
- An Event that was Honored by the International Volleyball Hall of Fame for its contribution to the sport
- Leaders who have been inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and who have been honored by USA Volleyball for their contributions to the sport
- Girls teams from all over the United States and abroad (ages 10 & under through 18)
- Guaranteed 10-12 matches over four days (12-18s)
- Competition at multiple ability levels
- A fun-themed Welcome Party at the Phoenix Convention Center
- Professional HD Webcast by the Volleyball Network of matches
- A fun interactive Kids Zone for non-volleyball participants