National Championship Awarded to Orange Beach
December 14, 2011
“The NAIA is very excited to continue its partnership with Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission as hosts of the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship,” Eric Olson, NAIA Director of Championships said. “We look forward to many more wonderful experiences and the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach community needs to be commended on their teamwork and efforts. They will organize a terrific Championship for all student-athletes, coaches and fans.”
For the past two seasons, the Orange Beach Sportsplex was home to the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship. The 1,500 spectator venue opened in 2001 with renovated locker rooms and a pair of soccer fields. The Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission has engineered numerous sporting events and sells Alabama’s Gulf Coast as one of the premier destinations.
“We are thrilled to welcome the NAIA Women’s National Soccer Championship,” Beth Gendler, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission Vice President of Sales said. “The Orange Beach Sportsplex has hosted the Men’s National Championship for the last two years and it is very exciting to be named the host city with the NAIA once again.”
In addition to hosting the NAIA Men’s and Women’s Soccer National Championships, the Sportsplex has welcomed the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Women’s Soccer Championship for eight-consecutive years, along with various levels of the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) World Series.
“This is a very prestigious honor for our Sports Commission and the teams work so hard all season to make it into the championship,” Gendler said. “We are excited to welcome the women’s championship for the next two years and show them the great southern hospitality everyone comes to enjoy while here in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach. We hope this is a long term relationship with NAIA and that we have the opportunity to host these events for many years to come.”
There are over 200 NAIA member institutions that sponsor women’s soccer. The NAIA conducted its first women’s soccer National Championship in 1984 and has been contested in Alabama twice before. For the past three seasons, the event was held in Decatur, Ala., with Lee (Tenn.) winning all three titles. With their most recent title, the Lady Flames became the first program in NAIA women’s soccer history to win four-straight national championships. Mobile, Ala., also hosted the tournament in 1998.