By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced a contract extension with the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission and the University of Mobile to host the 2014 and 2015 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championships. The annual event will continue to take place at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, Ala. The 2014 national championship is scheduled for Dec. 1 – 6, with the 2015 event taking place Nov. 30 – Dec. 5.
Earlier this year, the NAIA and the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission, in partnership with the city of Gulf Shores, Ala., executed a contract to host the NAIA Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field National Championships at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
“The NAIA is excited to continue its partnership with the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “Orange Beach has served as a first-class national championship destination for many of the NAIA’s events, especially for soccer. Our student-athletes deserve to have an experience that they will remember for a lifetime and we are confident that the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission will continue to offer that to them.”
The 2013 championship will mark the second year that the Orange Beach Sportsplex is the home to the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship. The 1,500 spectator venue opened in 2001 with renovated locker rooms and a pair of soccer fields. The facility has since been expanded to include soccer, football, softball and baseball facilities, which are continually used by area youth organizations.
“We are honored for the opportunity to hold the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship through 2015 alongside the City of Orange Beach,” said Beth Gendler, Vice President of Sales for the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission. “It has been a pleasure to welcome such a unique and incredibly talented group of female athletes to our area for the past few years, and we are excited to continue to partner with this top-notch organization.”
In 2010 and 2011, the venue served has the home of the NAIA’s Men’s Soccer National Championship. In addition to the NAIA, the Sportsplex has been the home of the NCAA Division I Southeastern Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament since 2003 along with regularly being used by area youth, high school and intercollegiate organizations and programs.
The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission is a partnership between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, the Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce and the cities of Gulf Shores, Ala., and Orange Beach, Ala. In 2007, this commission became a department within Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. The goal of the organization is to bring high-quality sporting events to the Alabama Gulf Coast area.
The NAIA has sponsored women’s soccer since 1984, when its inaugural championship was held in St. Louis, Mo. Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) won the 2012 National Championship with a 3-2 victory over Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) – the Blue Raiders third all-time national title. Currently, 200 institutions sponsor the sport of women’s soccer. For a complete list of participating schools, click here.
Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs and championships in proper balance with the overall educational experience. In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character-building aspects of sport. Through the Champions of Character program, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
To learn more about NAIA Women’s Soccer, click here.
To learn more about the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission, click here.