USA South Fall Festival Featured in Martinsville Bulletin
(MARTINSVILLE, VA) - When Martinsville and Henry County built it, the USA South men’s and women’s soccer tournaments were the first to come.
The complex and USA South made a joint announcement Thursday that the complex will host the USA South’s Fall Sports Festival — the tournaments for men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball — for the next three years in the Martinsville and Henry County area. The conference has hosted its men’s and women’s tournaments at the complex since 2009, but this will be the first year USA South volleyball will be played in the area.
“This is truly a relationship. I liken it back to 2009, when we were first getting started. USA South was really our first prom date,” Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said. “You guys (the USA South conference) stepped up and let us go to the prom with you that year.
“We didn’t know what we were doing, but we were excited to be there. That has grown along the lines of a true relationship.”
Since the Smith River Sports Complex doesn’t have any indoor areas to set up a volleyball court, the complex partnered with Patrick County Community College to provide the necessary gym for the sports.
The volleyball tournaments will be played at William F. Stone Hall at PHCC, where the Patriots men’s and women’s basketball teams play their games.
“We had to find the right community and the right facilities, and I think we found that in Martinsville,” USA South commissioner Rita Wiggs said of why the conference chose to have its Fall Sports Festival at the SRSC. “(The players and coaches) love the field, the hospitality and the community, the easy access to the hotels. It’s been very positive.”
Wiggs estimated that volleyball will bring close to 200 more players, coaches and other athletic personnel to the area. Billy Russo, the operations director of the Smith River Sports Complex, said nearly 300 coaches, players and other team personnel come to town for the soccer tournaments. Those numbers do not include the players’ parents and other family members who may attends or any fans of schools who decide to drive to the complex.
The USA South Conference is primarily a southwest and central Virginia-based conference, and teams from the conference include Averett University, Christopher Newport University, Ferrum College, Greensboro College, Mary Baldwin College, Methodist University, Meredith College, N.C. Wesleyan College and William Peace University. The conference also added Piedmont College, LaGrange College and Maryville College this summer.
But while bringing in the extra sport and more players and spectators to the area in a plus, Russo also is hoping to use the renewal of this event to market the SRSC for other conference tournaments and soccer events. For example, with the recent addition of men’s and women’s soccer at PHCC, the complex is targeting the Region X men’s and women’s soccer tournaments in the future.
“When I go out and recruit other events, we say we’ve hosted this event, and it kind of gets their eyebrows raised,” Russo said. “Nothing against small youth soccer tournaments, but a lot of logistics go on with these sorts of things. We can go after those type tournaments.”
Jimmy McGarry, the chairman of the South Virginia Recreation Facilities Authority Board, was also present for the announcement. He said that while the tournaments might not bring in substantial revenue for the complex, they should positively impact Martinsville and Henry County’s local businesses and hotels.
He added that the impact from the tournament and other events is not insignificant, noting that the economic impact of the complex is has been more than $1 million locally.
“I think it’s only going to build from here,” Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins said. “The Smith River Sports Complex is a major destination for this area, not only for the economic impact but for improving the quality of living here.”
Release courtesy of the David Reynolds - Martinsville Bulletin Sports Editor.