NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The impact of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four on the Nashville community will be felt for years to come thanks to numerous legacy programs that the NCAA and Nashville Local Organizing Committee implemented in Music City. A news conference was held at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday to provide post-Women’s Final Four details and to recognize those from the community who played a part in the success of the event.
Through the NCAA Community Outreach 101 Program, Coca-Cola NCAA Youth Clinics, Broadway Bounce Refreshed by Coca-Cola, Tourney Town Presented by Capital One, NCAA Girls Junior Journalism Workshop, 4Kay Run Presented by Northwestern Mutual, equipment donations through Wilson Sporting Goods Co. and additional local organizing committee initiatives, more than 15,000 Nashville middle school and elementary age children and their schools were impacted.
More than 30,000 fans visited and enjoyed all that Nashville had to offer for the Women’s Final Four, with thousands more, young and old, being touched by additional Women’s Final Four events. These included sellout crowds for the national semifinal and championship games played at the Bridgestone Arena on April 6 and 8, open practices and autograph sessions and a $100,000 research grant from the Kay Yow Cancer Fund to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Additional outreach included a visit to The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial and Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University by the cheerleaders and mascots from the two teams competing in the national championship game: Notre Dame University and the University of Connecticut.
“We are always looking for ways to fully integrate the numerous Women’s Final Four events into the local community and in working with the Nashville Local Organizing Committee we were able to achieve a great deal of success this year,” said Anucha Browne, NCAA vice president, women’s basketball championships. “Our ultimate goal each year around the Women’s Final Four is to leave a lasting legacy in the host community. In Nashville we accomplished this objective with the assistance from many locally who shared our passion.”
Community outreach accomplishments around the Women’s Final Four included the following:
NCAA Community Outreach 101 Program. This program reached more than 2,000 children in the Nashville community, offering youth-centric, educational initiatives that were designed to enhance Nashville neighborhoods. The purpose of the NCAA Community Outreach 101 is to teach youth about social responsibility through service learning and to encourage participation in volunteer opportunities, enhance existing projects and foster a lifelong commitment to community service. The program provided a fun and educational platform for youth to positively impact their community. Youth in Nashville participated in group volunteer projects that they selected on their own, including blanket drives, community gardens, murals and neighborhood fitness programs. NCAA Community Outreach Service Awards were presented to 14 schools and groups for their projects, which took place in the days leading up to the Women’s Final Four. Receiving awards were the following:
Girl Scouts of America – Troops 195, 188, 702
Ross Elementary School
Battle Ground Upper and Lower School
Kipp Academy Middle School
Lake Providence Church Girl Scouts – Troop 649
Lead Academy Middle and High School
Franklin Road Academy High School
61st Avenue United Methodist Church Afterschool Program
Boys and Girls Club of Middle Tennessee
Cub Scouts – Pack 43
Nashville After Zone Alliance
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Coca-Cola NCAA Youth Clinics. Four-hundred fifty Nashville youth participated in the Coca-Cola NCAA Youth Clinics conducted at McGavock High School, Cane Ridge High School and Tourney Town as part of the 2014 Women’s Final Four Super Saturday festivities. Youth had the opportunity to learn and enhance their sports skills and conditioning and life skills with women’s basketball coaches and student-athletes, as well as collegiate administrators and basketball experts from all over the country. Following the clinics, basketballs, ball racks, coolers, ice chests and other miscellaneous items were donated to the hosting locations and other outreach organizations in Nashville, including the Dream Big Organization and the Nashville Youth Basketball Association.
Broadway Bounce Refreshed by Coca-Cola. Held on April 5, the Broadway Bounce featured approximately 2,000 Nashville youth, ages 18 and under, who dribbled down Nashville’s Broadway Avenue to the entrance of Tourney Town at the Music City Center. All participants received a t-shirt from the NCAA and a basketball from Wilson Sporting Goods Co. Additional items from the Bounce were then donated to area community centers.
Tourney Town Presented by Capital One. Tourney Town took place on April 5, 6 and 8 at the Music City Center to near-record participation, with almost 28,000 fans in attendance over the three days. Tourney Town provided free interactive exhibits and events for fans of all ages, which also encouraged participants to be active through sports, as well as educating them on the history of women’s basketball. A concert given by Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery at Tourney Town attracted more than 4,000 fans prior to the national championship game on April 8.
NCAA Junior Journalism Workshop. A group of 15 elementary school girls from various Nashville area schools participated in the workshop on April 5 at Bridgestone Arena and Tourney Town. The students observed Women’s Final Four team practices, participated in news conferences and were provided open locker room access for interviews. Instructed in the latest media and social media coverage techniques, the young women then provided content to the NCAA Women’s Final Four social media platforms. Each participant received a Women’s Final Four backpack which included a basketball and other mementos.
4Kay Run Presented by Northwestern Mutual and Kay Yow Cancer Fund Research Grant. Over 1,000 runners and walkers joined in the battle against women’s cancers by taking part in the 2014 4Kay Run on April 5 that ran through the streets of downtown Nashville. Approximately $22,000 was raised for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund from this year’s event. Conducted each year in the host city of the Women’s Final Four, the 4Kay Run has now helped raise over $260,000 since its inception in 2008. The 4Kay Run is held in honor of the late North Carolina State University head women’s basketball coach, Kay Yow.
Also, in January 2014, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, in partnership with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and The V Foundation for Cancer Research, awarded a $100,000 research grant to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville to further research efforts directed to finding a cure for ovarian cancer.
The Kay Yow Cancer Fund has now awarded a grant in each Women’s Final Four city since 2009, totaling $600,000 in women’s cancer research support.
Cheerleader/Mascot Hospital Visits. The Notre Dame and UConn cheerleaders and mascots attended “Pep Rallies” at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial and Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University on April 7, the day before the national championship game involving the two schools.
“Nashville should be proud of the passion and the effort it took in hosting the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four so successfully,” said Beth DeBauche, commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference and one of the Nashville Local Organizing Committee co-chairs for the event. “We had such great support from the city and tremendous backing from our citizens, with over 1,000 volunteers giving of their time and talent to make sure the many programs left an undeniable impression on the participants. It was important to the NCAA and to us that our community felt the positive effects of this event, not only when the games were being played, but for many years following.”