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The Story of South Mission Beach Sports Park, Bill Walton and San Diego Beach Improvement Group

The South Mission Beach Sports Park was initiated back in the 60s with a single basketball court and a couple of poles for beach volleyball. Through the year Bill Walton enjoyed playing as a young man and as he moved through his years with the NBA, he still relishes these memories (see video below).


In 1997, Bill worked with community, Parks & Rec and installed 14 beach volleyball courts. Because Bill had enjoyed having this open space to play basketball, free of charges and open, he advocated for this at the beach volleyball courts with the agreement that only a few major events would be grandfathered and be able to have permits.


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By 2002, the nets and lines had disintegrated or had been stollen, so the facility was looking run down. Laura Hendrickson initiated research on who was taking care of the court to find out that there were a few locals ready to help, but one of the main spearheads for the courts had moved to LA. After speaking to this person and Bill Walton, steps were taken to renovate the courts.

Laura rallied the volleyball players together and raised the money to get new nets, redo the lines and put it all back together. In 2007, we established the nonprofit, San Diego Beach Improvement Group or SD BIG. Being a native of San Diego, Laura wanted the nonprofit to include supporting all beach amenities, sports equipment, and master plans at the beach.

Some impacts of the work with the nonprofit include more beach volleyball and healthy sports at Mission Beach Sports Park and less gangs walking up and down the boardwalk at South Mission Beach. The Police no longer need pods and teams of policemen at this location. We actively do beach cleanups at the location and have maintained the beach volleyball courts so well that it has become a true haven for the beach volleyball players. We have many testimonials, some who have enjoyed this facility for years, made friends and having weekly gatherings to play. They mention how they can come, play and it truly changes their lives just because playing makes them feel better.

Currently our projects include maintaining the beach volleyball and basketball courts at South Mission Beach, doing regular beach cleanups, and painting utility boxes along Mission Beach Blvd. Our team is growing and we will be starting some beach volleyball clinics in 2024.

During the beach cleanups and working on projects at the beach, there are many individuals who tell us their stories. A young man who was playing at the basketball court told me that basketball saved his life! He proceeded to tell me how he had jumped from foster family to foster family, but through all of these transitions, he’s always found a home with his basketball friends. When I met him, he was a part of the National City Semi-Pro Basketball team. Having our open, public basketball and beach volleyball courts is a special place.

In 2022, after refurbishing the basketball court with the support of Veniceball LA, Hoopbus, Match Point and Project Backboard, Bill Walton came out for a ribbon cutting, kid’s clinic and a grand event to celebrate 25 years at the Sports Courts of South Mission Beach. Having the press and City Council Member, Jennifer Cambell really made it special. Bill told the story about playing on this specific court since the 1960’s and how special they were to him developing into the player and man he is today. It is a true testament to how public sports facilities can impact people and their lives.

Be sure to watch Bill Walton's video (above)

Recently, we put together a beach cleanup and painting project in North Mission Beach at Santa Clara Place. We had a small group arrive for the day, but we were able to clean up over 145 lbs of trash, paint 9 trash cans and 2 beautiful designs for the utility boxes. We had many individuals pass by to acknowledge how the art really brought joy and light to the beach, admiring the beauty and appreciating the work we were doing.

This is the impact we bring to all the beaches of San Diego. Coming together, collaborating and taking care of this amazing place for all to enjoy. Being able to have a space where people of all ages can play, feel better and become better people because of these environments, sports facilities, and a clean beach… we not only take care of ourselves as a society, but we take care of earth.

Giving Back
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Giving Back

We strive to create beauty and inspire people through our activities, art and events.

Left: Laura Hendrickson incorporates local businesses like the Women's Health Center, Olive Baking Company, Cheap Rentals, Miss B's Coconut Club, Guava Beach, Salt Water Culture, Just Get Wet and BouTiki into paintings on the utility boxes at Santa Clara Place in Mission Beach. This project is part of our annual "Clean Sweep" event to keep Mission Beach looking beautiful.

I have walked past this #mermaid #mural painted on a utility box on #missionblvd so many times, I simply love it. This is one of the special things I look forward to seeing every time I am in #SanDiego. such a great vibe Come on, a baby mermaid nursing? Absolutely awesome.”

                                 – Steve Diamond

BIG Kahuna Beach Beautification FUNdraiser 2020

BIG Kahuna Beach Beautification FUNdraiser 2020

This year has been interesting to say the least! We were very excited to bring back the beloved 6-Man Beach Volleyball tournament, but COVID-19 has created an environment that is one we all have to adapt to. So, this year we will be hosting a booth at the beach and doing a fundraiser. Luckily the beach, the park, surfing, beach volleyball and basketball and all other activities at the beach can be enjoyed daily as a healthy outdoor activity and we love supporting these activities. Join us on Oct 10th and donate towards our efforts to create great experiences at the beach. By donating and making your commitment to our vision, join us on Oct 10th at South Mission Beach and receive lunch from The Lunch Guru, Perfect Hydration Alkaline water and Snow Monkey Ice Cream plus some other goodies. If you are unable to attend on Oct 10, you will still get some fun surprises in the mail! We are currently raising money to maintain the beach volleyball courts, resurface the basketball court and paint utility boxes along Mission Beach Blvd. Raffle prizes and other opportunities will be available! We appreciate your support and patience and look forward to seeing you there! REGISTER / DONATE TOWARDS A SPECIFIC PROJECT Donate to SD BIG nonprofit and our efforts in general or choose a specific projects that you want to support. We love your input and feedback and often hear that you want to know exactly where the money goes. We are actively seeking sponsorships and grants to help us with keeping the lights on and a percentage of all donations do help us do this but our goal is to make sure that most of the money goes towards the projects you care about! Register for FUNdraiser – Other ways to donate to SD BIG Venmo: @SanDiegoBIG PayPal: Be a Sponsor: Buy a BIG Kahuna BIG Beach Towel: ________________ Costume after party at The Pennant - Space is limited! RSVP HERE OUR Sponsors - They make this event rock! iHeart Media, The Lunch Guru, Promo-Drone, Snow Monkey Icecream, Perfect Hydration, Kamena Outdoor, Firehouse, Dig Magazine, Ed Chan VBShots, Mission Market, The Beachcomber, The Pennant, Belmont Park,, WishPond, Invested Traveler, Grandelli Properties, Dana Inn, Hyatt, HipSea Swimwear, Greg Martin Realtor, Rickaroons, Sandsocks and Beach Fire Guy have joined this celebration of volleyball and helping the beach community be the best. All proceeds will benefit San Diego Beach Improvement Group, the sports equipment and other beach beautification projects in South Mission Beach, San Diego, California. San Diego BIG is a non-profit dedicated to creating great experiences at the beach. Since 2002, we’ve been raising money to maintain the sports courts at South Mission Beach including 14 beach volleyball courts and 1 outdoor basketball court. We also assist with beach clean ups for I Love a Clean San Diego and engage with the Mission Beach Town Council and Mission Beach Women’s Club for other beach beautification projects. Parks & Rec and the City of San Diego are already providing a clean environment and great lifeguard services and San Diego BIG wants to support these efforts and make improvements for all residents and visitors to enjoy. Learn more at Join us on Facebook: Join us on Instagram: Join us on LinkedIn: #fundraiser #charity #beachvolleyball #beachimprovement #beachprojects #beachcleanup #beachbasketball #beachbeautification #fundraiser #teambuilding #beachlandscaping #paintingutilityboxes #sandiego #missionbeach #southmissionbeach #ilovethebeach #beachrentals #beachvolleyballtournament #sandsoccer #basketball #surfing #ultimatefrisbee #volunteeratthebeach
BILL WALTON - New Basketball Court San Diego BIG 25th Year Anniversary

BILL WALTON - New Basketball Court San Diego BIG 25th Year Anniversary

Tribute Event to Bill Walton’s 25th Year with South Mission Beach Sports Park and Refurbishing of the Basketball Court South Mission Beach Sports Courts, 1 N. Jetty Rd, San Diego, CA 92109 Special Guests: Bill Walton, Steve Lavin and City Officials Sponsored By: Veniceball , Project Backboard, and Hoopbus™ San Diego, CA Twenty-five years after developing South Mission Beach Sports Park in South Mission Beach, Bill Walton returns to celebrate the refurbishing of the outdoor beach basketball. On June 4th, 2022 there will be a grand reopening of the main court, basketball clinic, 5-on-5 basketball games and a special ribbon cutting ceremony with Bill Walton (MC and Speaker) at the South Mission Beach Sports Park, 1 N. Jetty Rd., San Diego, CA 92109. The court was professionally repaired and resurfaced by Match Point, which included filling in a major crack, updating poles and backboards and finishing the base with several coats to sustain the beach weather and active use at this facility. Special original artwork was created by Veniceball and Project Backboard with a fun beach wave theme and colors. The team of Bill Walton, David Gill, Steve Lavin, San Diego’s Parks and Rec Department, Veniceball, Hoopbus and San Diego Beach Improvement Group worked together over multiple years to secure funding, provide oversight and administration for the court renovation project. Thirteen years earlier at this same park, MatchPoint worked with San Diego Beach Improvement Group (SD BIG) to refurbish this basketball court. SD BIG is a 501c3 non-profit which focuses on keeping our San Diego beaches clean, well-maintained and beautiful. SD BIG has been working with Bill Walton and Parks and Rec since 2002 to support the maintenance and upkeep of these sports courts that include the basketball court as well as 14 beach volleyball courts. Over the years and with this support, over 1000 people play on these sports courts weekly. Activities include beach cleanups, socials, painting utility boxes, sports events and implementing master plans. Learn more at For further information about the Mission Beach Sports Courts event, please contact David Gill at Laura Hendrickson President, San Diego Beach Improvement Group
SD BIG BIG Kahuna Beachfest Promotions 2022

SD BIG BIG Kahuna Beachfest Promotions 2022

You’re invited to the San Diego BIG Kahuna Beachfest and Fundraiser at South Mission Beach on October 8th! We are looking forward to having you join us for this exciting sports and costume fundraiser for keeping our San Diego beaches well-maintained and beautiful! This year we will be offering: • 4-Man Beach Volleyball Mens: Open & Intermediate Womens: Open & Intermediate Co-ed: Open, Intermediate & Social • 5-Man Pro Am Beach Soccer Mens: Open & Social Womens: Open & Social U19: Boys & Girls U17: Boys & Girls • 2-Man SD Roundnet / Spikeball Coed (All ages): Open, Intermediate & Social • 3-Man Basketball (TBD) Instructions on registering your team: 1) Get team members (up to 10 for volleyball & soccer) and decide on a team name. 2) Register your team (you will need info from each participant like b-day, email, phone, emergency contact & phone, t-shirt size, etc). 3) Recruit more players/substitutes to join you... they can register as individuals once you have your team name confirmed. We will be posting team names in each division on our main website at as quickly as possible. 4) Individuals who don't have a team may contact event director to be placed at Individuals must register by Oct 1st! We will list your name, level of play and sport – teams may browse this list to pick you up or we will place you as a team on a first come, first serve basis. Anyone who contacts us after Oct 1 will be on a wait list but is not guaranteed a spot in the tournament. 5) Hotel room blocks and house rentals are available through our event website. 6) Become a member of San Diego BIG and get 20% OFF costumes and uniform options as seen on the "UNIFORMS" tab of event website. If you have questions visit the event website at Food Trucks will be available for lunch. Participants will get a lunch ticket as part of your goodie bag of sponsored items. Extra lunches are available for purchase with registrations for your guests and supporters. Event T-shirts and Towels are an additional fee. Deadline: Oct 1st at 11:00 pm After Oct 1: Additional fee. Any registrations on the day of event are not guaranteed. This is a fundraiser. You can get insurance for your entry fee, but we play rain or shine and no refunds. ___________________ This event will be hosted in beautiful San Diego at South Mission Beach Sports Park. The beach is open for sunbathing, beach volleyball, basketball, swimming and other activities. T-shirts and other goodies will be available for purchase and all donations are tax deductible. For more information about sponsorships, please contact us at General public welcome. Food and drinks will be available for a small donation. __ San Diego Beach Improvement Group is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to creating great experiences at the beach. We raise money for sports court maintenance, improvements and cleanups for San Diego beaches. Established in 2002, we enjoy giving back to the community with fun activities, beach tournaments and supporting a clean, beautiful and well-maintained beach area for all to enjoy! Sponsors - They make this event rock! Empower Me Marketing, Pandamonium VB, Promo-Drone, Onesie Tourney, Athletic Brewing, The Lunch Guru, Surfwater, Cheap Rentals, WOW Surfboards, Katrina Karnes Massage, Functional Performance Institute, Life’s a Beach Camps, Strength in the City, Cindy Whitmarsh Fitness, Halloween Costumes, The Pennant, The Beachcomber, Crossnet Game, Miss B’s Coconut Club, iHeart Media, BIG 100.7, Access Trax, Kamena Outdoor, Friends of Bonobos, Firehouse, Ed Chan - VBShots, Grandelli Properties, The Dana Inn, Hyatt Resort, The Bahia Resort, HipSea Swimwear, NuSkin, Greg Martin Realtor, Cathi Brennan Massage, Edwin Simpson Tax Guy, VAVI Sports and Social Club, Rickaroons, Sandsocks and Beach Fire Guy have joined this celebration of volleyball and helping the beach community be the best. Follow us on Instagram! Like us on Facebook! @SanDiegoBIG Let's rock this thing out ;) #beachvolleyball #beachsoccer #spikeball #southmissionbeach #sandiego #beachfest #fundraiser #funevent #bestbeachevent #bigkahunabeachfest #bigkahuna #sandiegobig #beachimprovementgroup
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Business Info

501c3 nonprofit  |  33-0735342   |  Established in 2007, Re-instated in 2020

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