The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 15, 2013

Huntsville lands state soccer tourney through 2016


From wire, staff reports

— Local high school soccer teams won’t have to travel far to play in the state soccer tournament. The Alabama High School Athletic Association and the city of Huntsville have agreed to a new contract that will keep the boys and girls State Soccer Championships at Huntsville’s John Hunt Complex for the next three seasons.

AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese made the announcement Thursday at a news conference in Huntsville. Details of the contract were not released.

The new agreement between the AHSAA and the city of Huntsville and the Huntsville Sports Commission insures the soccer championships will remain in Huntsville for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The news is especially good for local teams that have frequented the state tournament over the past decade.

The Athens girls team won the state championship this year after seven consecutive trips to the final four in Huntsville while the boys team also returned to John Hunt Park in May.

Other local teams to make the short drive down U.S. 72 to the state tournament recently include East Limestone boys and girls soccer teams.

“We are proud to be able to continue our relationship with the city of Huntsville concerning our soccer championships,” Savarese said. “This is a very good contract for our member schools. Huntsville is a great venue for soccer and this agreement ensures that our student-athletes and schools will continue to be afforded the experience of positive, life-long memories.”

Savarese thanked the other cities, especially Montgomery, which also made a very strong proposal.

Huntsville has hosted the State Soccer Championships for the past 12 years — beginning in 2002.

“The relationship between the AHSAA and the city of Huntsville has been mutually beneficial,” Savarese said. “The John Hunt Complex is an excellent venue located near many of our schools that participate in soccer, and the economic impact has been very important.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle says he can’t imagine a soccer championship being held anywhere else in Alabama.

“Huntsville has become historically significant in serving as the site of the State Soccer Championships,” said Mayor Battle. “Throughout the year, on fields across the state, the challenge is heard — ‘We’ll see you in Huntsville!’ We are delighted to provide a world-class championship complex and a hospitable community to welcome soccer players and their families to this soccer highlight of the year.”

Savarese praised Mayor Battle, his staff, the Huntsville Sports Commission, its executive director Ralph Stone and assistant director Gina Conard for their outstanding service and support since the AHSAA moved the soccer championships to Huntsville in 2002.

The AHSAA State Soccer Championships just completed its 23rd year in 2013, crowning state champions in three boys divisions (6A, 5A and 1A-4A) and three girls divisions (6A, 5A and 1A-4A). Until 2002, the championships were held in Birmingham at John Carroll Catholic High School.

The city of Huntsville also hosts the AHSAA State Wrestling Championships, the North Regional Softball qualifying tournament and North Super-Regional Volleyball Championships.