FOLEY, AL – Foley Sports Tourism (FST) has had the pleasure of hosting a number of female athletes across a range of sports, but this weekend will likely bring a record number of girls to the city. The Bounders Beach Bash gymnastics meet and the Publix SuperCup Girls Weekend Soccer tournament will welcome hundreds of girls from around the country to Foley for competition, September 7-8.
The Beach Bash is an established meet that has been running for the past nine years. Foley has served as host of the Beach Bash for the last three years and even has the distinction of being the first event held at the Foley Event Center when it opened in 2017. This year, organizers anticipate more than 500 participants from around the region including Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida to compete.
The gymnastics meet is a fun event that encompasses a beach theme each year, with this year’s centering around “Flip Flops and Flamingos.” Participants truly enjoy the atmosphere, but the meet also allows them further themselves within the sport explained Erin Holdefer-Kightlinger, co-owner of Bama Bounders Gymnastics (meet host). If gymnasts earn a certain score, according to their level, they can qualify for the state competition.
Holdefer-Kightlinger understands the importance of providing girls the chance to compete, having been a part of the 2002 NCAA Championship Team at the University of Alabama.
“The opportunities for girls to take part in athletics is huge,” Holdefer-Kightlinger said. “Sports teach so many lessons to children! No matter what sport a girl participates in, she will feel a feeling of empowerment. She will learn about motivation, discipline, perseverance, but most of all she will gain a huge sense of positive self-esteem.”
Publix SuperCup Girls Weekend
Gymnastics isn’t the only sport where girls are stealing the spotlight. With the success of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team at the World Cup, the growth of soccer among girls is something that’s been evident on the Gulf Coast.
Nick Cooper, tournament director for the Publix Super Cup Girls Weekend, explains the competition is a partnership between Snap Soccer and Perdido Bay Futbol Club. The tournament was previously called the Florabama Showcase and has continued growing for the past 12 years. In 2014, the event was split into two weekends, one for boys and one for girls, however, the separation didn’t slow growth in the slightest.
Cooper anticipates 140 teams just for the girls weekend including teams from around the nation. Teams will compete in age divisions ranging from U9 – U19, and the key to guaranteeing a spot to participate was registering early.
“We are having to turn teams away from multiple age groups due to the growth,” Cooper said. “The facility is a huge help and attraction in bringing larger numbers in. Foley not only has one of the best facilities in the southeast, but the staff are incredibly welcoming and make sure everything is set way ahead of time to ensure a perfect weekend for all in attendance.”
FST Event Operations Manager, Angela Sullivan said being able to not only help welcome teams to Foley but also help empower female athletes is something she loves about her job.
“Big weekends featuring female athletes are truly some of my favorites,” said Sullivan. “We share our Foley hospitality with every participant who visits Foley. But, the chance to provide girls an opportunity to compete and grow as women, that’s something that’s very close to my heart.”
Both the Bounders Beach Bash and the Publix SuperCup Girls Weekend are open to the public. The Beach Bash will be charging an admission fee of $10 for adults and $5 for children (free for children five and under). The SuperCup will be charging a $5 fee for parking.
For more information on these competitions or any FST event contact Stephanie Donald.