NICEVILLE, FL (WJHG/WECP) Northwest Florida State College is the new home for the FCSAA/NJCAA Region VIII State Tournaments! With both the men's and women's tournaments taking place at Raider Arena.
That news coming from the college Tuesday. Northwest A.D. Ramsey Ross telling us he presented that bid last month during the State Tournament in Ocala, and it was accepted unanimously!
So starting next year and running through the 2022 season, Raider Arena will be the home to the tournaments. This a dream that began back in 2011.
"We really kind of targeted and built this facility for tournaments." Ross told me by phone Tuesday afternoon. "I think you can point to the Emerald Coast Classic as a perfect example. We have a lot of experience hosting tournaments, we really enjoy it. And our community has really embraced the opportunity, and we really looked forward to possibly doing this one day. And we're really excited to be able to do it."
It's logical to believe this gives the Northwest teams, if and when they qualify for State the next three seasons, a serious homecourt edge. It's an edge Chipola enjoyed for some years when it hosted State between 96 and 2013!
"You know it's going to be a very neutral venue, as much as we can." Ross says "And we're committed to doing that. But no doubt about it, our coaches are incredibly excited. Number one not to have to travel. And number two to maybe have the opportunity to play in front of our fans. But we play in a very competitive league, and certainly we're gonna have our hands full just to qualify for the tournament."
By the way at this year's Emerald Coast Classic in late november, FSU, Tennessee, Purdue and VCU, all NCAA tournament teams this year. Ross says the community has always been behind that Division One tournament, and it is already lining up to support the State Tournament.
"Oh a hundred percent, you have to have the whole community rally around it. Not just the community but the college, we have to pull all our resources together. The early returns on breaking this news has been incredible positive. We already have laid some groundwork and gotten some civic organizations involved. So we're really looking forward to it."