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Columbia, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has selected the Columbia College Athletic Department to host the Volleyball National Championships in 2006 and 2007. Twenty teams from across the United States and Canada compete in the tournament each year.
Columbia College's Southwell Complex will be the site of the 27th and 28th Volleyball National Championships Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, 2006, and Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 2007, respectively.
"It is a great honor to be selected to host the NAIA National Volleyball Championships for the next two years," said Bob Burchard, director of athletics for Columbia College. "We are excited about the opportunity to showcase the city of Columbia and Columbia College on the national stage."
This is the second national championship hosted by Columbia College. The college hosted the NAIA Softball National Championships in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1995. Other cities that have hosted recent NAIA Volleyball Championships include San Diego, Calif., West Palm Beach, Fla., Fresno, Calif., and Kankakee, Ill.
The Cougar volleyball team has played in five NAIA Volleyball National Championship games since 1998, winning the Volleyball National Championship in 1998, 1999 and 2001. The team was runner-up in 2000 and 2003.
"Our volleyball program has competed at the highest levels of our association for many years, and the city of Columbia has hosted a wide variety of sporting events," said Burchard. "The Southwell Complex will be a great championship venue, and we look forward to having the best volleyball teams in our association compete here for a national championship."
Lori Thomas, NAIA director of champions, said the NAIA selected Columbia College to host the NAIA National Volleyball Championship because of the college's knowledge and previous experience with NAIA national championships. She said the top priority is to provide NAIA student-athletes with a memorable championship experience.
"It is a natural fit when their athletic programs have had great success in post-season play," said Thomas. "Columbia College knows the expectations to be successful, and we are confident that the staff at Columbia College is ready to take this on."
"The championship tournament provides an opportunity for national-class athletes to perform in Columbia and to demonstrate not only on-court prowess, but to exhibit the characteristics of ‘Champions of Character'," said Dr. Gerald T. Brouder, president of Columbia College. "We will work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to make this a first-class event."
The tournament will have a positive economic impact on Columbia and boost the city's national visibility, said Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"This event will have a two-year economic impact of more than $750,000," Steiner said. "The positive media coverage for Columbia College and our community, however, is priceless."
The Holiday Inn Executive Center will be the hotel headquarters for the tournament and will house a majority of the teams. The Best Western–Columbia Inn is the secondary hotel and will house the remaining teams.
For more information about the NAIA Volleyball National Championships visit www.naia.org.
For more information about the Cougar Athletics visit www.columbiacougars.com.