FST Makes History Hosting Gymnastics Championships

Foley Sports Tourism (FST) will make history this spring by being the first in the state of Alabama to ever host the USA Gymnastics Region 8 Xcel Championships May 6 – 8 at the Foley Event Center.

          The event will not only be a first for Alabama but also a first for hosts Bama Bounders Gym. Bama Bounders Owner and Regional Championships Meet Director Erin Holdefer-Kightlinger said they are expecting an estimated 1,500 gymnasts and their families from across Region 8, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. This also makes it the largest gymnastics event FST has ever seen.

Holdefer-Kightlinger said working with FST for past events made it an easy choice when putting together a bid for the Regional Championships.

“We chose Foley when we bid on this event because the facility is one of the best in the country,” Holdefer-Kightlinger said. “The Foley Sports Tourism family helps put on the most incredible events and we are thrilled to be able to continue to work with them. The decision for us to bid on the meet in Foley was a no-brainer.”

Alabama State Gymnastics Chair Mike Holdefer said the regional committee takes a lot into consideration including location and history of successful gymnastics events. The decision is not an easy one considering the expansion of the Xcel program throughout the area. But having the event in Alabama for the first time since its inception in 2008 can impact more than just Foley, it can have a ripple effect on the sport throughout the state.

“It is a great boost to gymnastics in Alabama as many of our athletes have had to travel over 500 miles some years for this event,” Holdefer said. “The Xcel program in Alabama and throughout Region 8 is growing each year and this year’s event in Foley will only fuel growth, especially in Alabama. A successful event would certainly lead to the opportunities to receive future regional championships.”

Foley Executive Director of Leisure Services David Thompson said the Regional Championships are not only a chance to further FST’s reputation within the gymnastics community, but to also remember how far they’ve come as an organization.

“We’ve been in existence less than 10 years and when we first opened, events like this were something we dreamed about. Now we have the privilege of making sports history for the state,” Thompson said. “This is a testament to our incredible event staff, both indoor and outdoor, coming together to execute top-notch events that keep us growing. As leaders we can bring new events in, but when it comes down to it, it’s the one-on-one work of our field staff, building staff, and event operations staff with planners and visitors that create a positive experience and keep people coming back. This honor is truly theirs.”

For more information on the USA Gymnastics Region 8 Xcel Championships or any FST event visit our events page.