County to host major sport festival

LaGRANGE – Starting on Wednesday, local tennis courts, golf courses, baseball fields and more will be filled to the brim with student athletes from all over the Southeast – as well as coaches, parents and school administrators – gathering for the USA South Spring Sports Festival.

The sports festival is scheduled to run from Wednesday to Saturday, and it is set to take place at sports facilities throughout the county including Cleaveland Field, Shuford Fields, Highland Country Club, Callaway Stadium, the McCluskey Tennis Center and the LaGrange College Tennis Center. The NCAA uses the term “festival” to indicate a collection of multi-sport tournaments at one location that are spread out over various sites, but even though this will be an athletic festival, the LaGrange Chamber of Commerce hopes to show off far more than just local athletic field during the event.

“It will provide a perfect opportunity to showcase all that our community has to offer,” said Vice President of Marketing and Tourism Dave Marler. “Our local merchants will enjoy a positive economic impact as our guests shop, dine and experience a warm, hospitable welcome.”

According to Marler, the chamber is expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors to eat, sleep and shop in town during the tournament which could potentially have the economic impact of up to $1 million for the area including local hotels, which currently have very few rooms available.

Among the teams competing in the festival will be Troup County’s own LaGrange College, whose administration is excited for the opportunity to share its hometown with its athletic rivals.

“LaGrange is a very special place,” said LaGrange College President Dan McAlexander. “We are proud to share one of the prettiest and friendliest small cities in the South with our visitors.”

While many of the college’s facilities will be used for the event, the college will not be an official sponsor of the event since its teams will be competing. The college is, however, excited that the major NCAA Division III tournament will be in LaGrange.

“The USA South Athletic Conference prides itself on putting the student-athlete experience first in all of its decisions,” said Jennifer Claybrook, athletic director of LaGrange College. “I know that this is going to be an incredible event for the student-athletes, parents and fans.”

The USA South Spring Sports Festival is scheduled to run April 12 through 15. The chamber encourages local businesses to update their signs to welcome the more than 850 college student-athletes, not counting coaches, parents and administrators, expected to be in town for the festival – or an estimated 2,000 visitors in all to LaGrange.

“We just hope that everyone will give them the warm LaGrange welcome that we are known for,” said Marler.

All games are free and open to the public.

 

The schedule for the tournament is expected to go as follows:

– Baseball games will run Wednesday through Saturday at LaGrange College’s Cleaveland Field and Point University’s West Point Park.

– Softball games will run Thursday through Saturday at the Shuford Softball Complex.

– Men’s and Women’s Tennis will run Thursday through Saturday at the LaGrange College Varsity Tennis Courts and the McCluskey Tennis Center.

– Women’s Lacrosse will run Friday through Saturday at Callaway Stadium.

– Men’s Golf will run Thursday through Saturday at Highland Country Club.