About the Growler

The Story of Growler! 

The Growler Cup represents man’s ability to overcome their own physical weakness brought on by age, overindulgence and years of neglect to win a contest that does not really require that much physical or mental ability.


If it were possible to wrap the Stanley Cup with a Green Jacket from the Master and fuse it together with the Vince Lombardi Trophy and melt a Noble Peace Prize to the mass it would have the likeness and prestige of The Growler Cup.


In 2008 after many beers and a contest “who’s taller” landed a crushing defeat for Mark Williams, Chris Bunting then challenged Mark to a game of Volley Ball. Not just… any game; a match between mediocre private swim clubs. Clubs with the type of exclusivity that require the ability to write a check and a promise to at least try to keep your clothes on.  Mark and Chris wanted to create a trophy that would stand the test of time. They wanted to encompass glass; a technology perfected by the Romans the producers of gladiators and Beer invented by the Egyptians the builder of pyramids. After many sleepless nights The Growler Cup was formed. It is come to be the Mount Everest of co-ed neighborhood beach volley ball trophies in greater North Raleigh area. For most the Growler Cup will be the last award they will ever win in their lifetime.


The Growler Cup; truly there is no other trophy like it!
– Rob Caulfield




Growler Chronicles (The story behind the results)

For More Details on Each Year Go to:  https://growlervolleyball.com/past-results/         Or   Click on each year listed below

2008–  Chris Bunting(LKP) ,  Mark Williams(SARC) and their wives were out to dinner one night, when the idea of a small sand volleyball tournament between swim clubs was born.   Everyone would pitch in $5 and we would get a keg or two.  Chris can be credited for the name “Growler” and he also made the perpetual trophy which is still coveted to this day.  The first tournament was held at Lake Park and included 5 teams from 3 clubs:  Lake Park(2), Springdale(2), and Crabtree(1).   The first tournament spanned over 2 Tuesday nights just after swim team season.   We didn’t have team names that first year.  The Springdale A team won.

2009–  Since Springdale won the first year, it was decided that Springdale would host the 2nd year.   We grew to 8 teams from the same 3 clubs.  The Springdale B team (Renegades) got revenge and won the second year.  The team name Renegades was used, because of Lonerider Brewing, one of our first sponsors.   At the time they were just forming their brewery and not too many people had heard of them.  Fortunately, one of their partners was a member of Springdale and sold us kegs for $50 each.  Lots of Shotgun Betty was enjoyed by all.

2010– Growler really started to take off in year 3.  We brought in 3 more swim clubs primarily contributed to late night Y- Princess “Fire Water” chats.   Mark’s tribe included guys from Greystone and Seven Oaks.  North Raleigh Swim Club rounded out the year with 6 clubs and 15 teams.  We expanded the tournament to 4 weeks.  This was the first year we printed t-shirts and had official sponsors.    PF Changs became a long-standing food sponsor and set the bar for many other restaurants sponsors we’ve gained over the years.   We actually made a little bit of profit which a kegerator was purchased.  We could tell that Growler was something special and that we needed to find a purpose for our profits each year.   We had a club member whose son was undergoing chemo treatments earlier that year and the club had a St Baldrick’s event to honor their son.   Cancer research was dear to Mark’s heart, who had lost his brother to cancer a few years prior.  After learning more about St Baldrick Foundation’s mission and the way they were formed, it just seamed a natural fit to merge a “Head Shaving” event into our already festive volleyball tournament.

2011–  Our first year with St Baldrick’s gained modest donations of just over $4,000, however we were ecstatic to think we’ve done something good while playing volleyball.  North Raleigh Swim Club broke the 3 year streak of Springdale wins and were 2011 champs.  We continued to grow with 18 teams and 20 sponsors.   We capitalized with our network of 6 swim clubs to barter as much of our expenses as possible.  We started to learn about the power of “It takes a Village”.  Much of our success can be contributed to the networking power of all the swim clubs involved.

2012–  We really started to get aggressive with gaining sponsors and we were growing into North Raleigh’s Largest Sporting Social Event of the Summer.   We formed a partnership with RA Jeffery’s, the area Anheiser Busch distributor.    Good thing, since we went through 33 kegs of beer that year.  At the time Brian Tobey was our RAJ rep and he soon got the bug to form his own Team Kona the next year.  We improved our St Baldricks donations to $13,471 that year.

2013–  Continued growth with 28 teams and over $28,000 donations to St Baldricks.

2014–  This was a milestone year.  We added our 7th swim club, Harrington Grove and were now up to 32 teams.  It provided a nice even number of 4 Divisions of 8 teams each.  This was popular since it allowed teams to play other teams of equal skill level.   It was the first year we added a band to our festive event and had produced a drone YouTube video that we still use to help with new sponsorships.  While we raised over $33K for St Baldrick’s, we also started hosting a child with cancer and  support their family through their treatments.  We continue to support a different child each year.

2015–  It was decided that we needed to cap the number of teams to 32.  However, we continued to grow with the number of sponsors to 45 and our increase our efforts to raise money for St. Baldricks.  We exceeded $50K for SB that year.

2016 Continued growth and improvement with the tournament.  St Baldrick’s donations continued to grow to $64K.  Jeff Chaffin was our first shavee to raise more than $10K.  Lake Park finally was able to lay claim to a Growler Championship.

2017–  Another record breaking year with $83K in donations.   2017 was the First Annual Junior Growler headed up by the Here for Beer team.

2018–  It was the first year we exceeded $100K for SB.  In fact we blew it away with $126,698 in donations.   Brooke Bryand, Lindsay Rynearson and their mom highlighted the event by all three shaving their heads.  They raised over $26K.  2018 was the 1st year we held the SENIOR Growler which was hosted by the Crabtree Club.  After 10 years of Growlers, we were seeing a new generation of volleyball players and a need to let the Old Timers have their own tournament.

2019–  This was a milestone year by totally over a Half Million dollars for St Baldrick’s.  We raised over $121K with 75 sponsors.   We started to change our relationships with local breweries by serving more local beers.  Seven Oak’s Kiss My Ace became the first team to win back to back years of Growler and also tying Springdale’s Volleywood with 3 Growler Championships each.

2020– Covid.  Volleyball was canceled however we held our First Ever Virtual Head Shaving event and raised over $56K.   John Kruse did an excellent job as master of ceremonies

2021  We rebounded from our Covid year to raise more than $130K.  In 2021, Mark moved to the coast which presented challenges to complete his local responsibilities.   We expanded our GROWLEadeRship team to take ownership of several areas.   Bill Speri stepped up as our new Growler Director, Cristine Allison as Set up/Volunteer lead, Beth Rea as Treasurer, Brian Tobey as Beverage lead, Sue Schaefer as Growler Gear lead, Scot Carboni as St Baldricks lead, and many others to continue the well-oiled Growler machine.  This expanded leadership has taken Growler to the next level.  It’s amazing the effort that goes behind our event.  See the complete GROWLEadeRship team.  https://growlervolleyball.com/contact-us/

2022– We expanded to 8 clubs and 36 teams.  North Hills Club is the 8th club to join the Growler Nation.  Lake Park hosted the 1st Annual GrowlHer Tournament and raised over $1600 for St Baldricks.  We reached a new milestone by raising over $175,000  for St Baldricks, making us the #1 SB fund raising event in North Carolina.

2023– We exceeded ONE MILLION dollars in total donations to St Baldrick’s and have reached the #1 event in NC and #10 event in the US.  We ended the year with over $207K in donations.  The final night’s highlights were Shannon Fuller and Dana Heil shaving to bring in over $18,000 in donations.  We had a special guest, Kathleen Ruddy CEO of St Baldrick’s Foundation who traveled from California to attend our event.  In 2023, we also filed to be incorporated with a 501c(3) status so we can manage our own finances.  Prior years, we’ve relied on Springdale to manage our funds.