I’m coming home.

Depending on the context in which I say or write that sentence, home could mean about half a dozen places. It could reference my hometown, Hampstead, Md., or Huntington Beach, Ca., my first residence in Southern California. It could mean my current living situation, in Hermosa Beach, or, should I be overseas, just the United States in general. In this situation, however, “home” applies to none of the above.

In this case, home is Navarre Beach, “Florida’s best kept secret,” as it states on its sign as you drive in from either Pensacola or Fort Walton. Navarre is where I first learned to play beach volleyball, at a stunning little bar and restaurant on the Gulf called Juana’s Pagodas. I haven’t been back since I initially packed up my 2008 Chevy Aveo and left for California in the fall of 2015.

Eight years later, I’m coming home.

Juana’s, Navarre Beach Tattoo Company – where I went to get the gigantic crab inked on the right side of my back – and Saucedwear have joined forces to put on a $17,000 open tournament on July 21-23. The winners split $5,000, which is $1,200 more than the winners of an AVP Tour Series.

Register for SaucedWear Tournament here. 

Not bad for a beach more known for not being known by virtually anyone, save for those who accidentally stumble upon it, as I did in April of 2014.

It’s a rich little beach community in Navarre, overflowing with personality and color. Leagues dominate the nightly activities. Some cities might have softball or dodgeball or pickleball or whatever kind of leagues for after work; Navarre has beach volleyball. Twos, fours, sixes, co-ed, sober, not so sober, whatever.

They have it. And they love it.

Beach volleyball is the very foundation of both Juana’s and Navarre as a whole. It’s where people go to have a beer and chat and also where they go for exercise. It’s the proverbial office water cooler, where you talk sports and life and politics and movies and the latest gossip. It’s where I watched my first AVP tournament, when a kid named Tri Bourne was just beginning his brilliant career, and also where I first learned that there was an organization called the Association of Volleyball Professionals.

That sport has since become the very bedrock of my life.

I’ve stayed in touch, best I can, with a few of the folks back home. Judd Smith, the man who pulled me aside and began working with me, has remained a good friend, someone who will just text me here and there to say “hey bubba, just want to say I’m proud of ya and I love ya. OK. Bye.”

I’m excited to see him.

I’m excited to see everyone back home, including Jason McDaniel, the man who runs Navarre Beach Tattoo.

I’ll have time to do it, too.

The tournament includes two days of men’s and women’s open, followed by a Sunday co-ed fours tournament, which includes a $3,000 purse for the winners.

Again: Not bad for a decently kept secret.

Part of the intent of this tournament is to graduate Navarre from Florida’s best kept secret to a potential frequent landing spot for summer tournaments. Juana’s is home to some of the deepest sand and finest sunsets I’ve ever seen. Six courts – from what I remember – surround a sweet little pagoda that has cheap beer and postcard views. Should players give it a chance – something I encourage, despite the fact that the more people play, the more difficult it will be for me to come home with extra money in my pocket – I think it could become a regular stop on their calendars.

Maybe it’ll even become something like home.