When the NAIA Division 1 Women’s Basketball National Championship rolls into Billings, Montana, March 15-21, it won’t only be 32 women’s teams competing for the title. The state’s largest city will also be looking to score when hosting an NAIA basketball championship for the first time.
“Somebody said to me, ‘Why don’t you host a national tournament in Billings?’” says Bruce Parker, Rocky Mountain College athletic director and the local point person for the event. “I thought that might be a good idea.”
Parker got the ball rolling, so to speak, when he teamed with Visit Billings Executive Director Alex Tyson to make the initial bid. “I knew if we could get her behind it we’d have a great chance,” says Parker of Tyson.
When it came time for the site visit, Parker and the team pulled out all the stops to impress NAIA Associate Director of Championship Events Jamie Adams and Manager of Athletics Communications and Media Alan Grosbach. The Billings mayor met Adams and Grosbach at the airport, and they participated in dinners with civic leaders, press conferences and individual media interviews.
Adams says the personalization factor helped Billings win the bid. “They did a great job of not only the wining and dining, but also asking us multiple times, ‘Who do you want to talk to? What do you want to see? What do you want on the itinerary so you can make this decision?’” says Adams, whose site visit was her first trip to Billings.
The tournament schedule is grueling: eight games per day for the first three days on a single court at Rimrock Auto Arena. To take home the trophy, a team must win five games in six days. “It’s a grind to win a national championship,” says Adams. “I’m just shooting for a smooth tournament.”