Boone Area Sports Commission helps bring in and support High Country sporting events


Lynette Files

Former App State standout running back Darrynton Evans scores a touchdown in the 2019 Sun Belt Championship game. “The first event the commission assisted was the Sun Belt football Championship when App State hosted the University of Louisiana at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone,” said Jackson. 

Alex McCaskey, Reporter

Boone is a tourist destination, many people come to the High Country for sporting events. The Boone Area Sports Commission helps with the process. 

When App State hosts a sports championship, the Boone Area Sports Commission is available to assist in a variety of roles, such as coordinating with fan groups from other schools to give them a place to gather before the event, and to provide insight on businesses in Boone so the visitors can enjoy their time before, during and after the event. 

The sports commission has many roles, overseen by Roachel Laney, former director of the Mountaineers’ athletic department for 14 years, from 1990-2004.

“Doing the little things adds up, we put gift baskets in the coaches’ rooms,” Laney said. 

The sports commission works closely with the Tourism Development Authority to promote sporting events in the area and provide visitors with information about the town. 

The commission is looking to recruit events to the area and assist, but not run, the events, Jackson said. The commission also helps out with youth sports tournaments, including two basketball, baseball, and soccer tournaments, in addition to championships that App State is hosting and local events such as the Highland games according to Laney.

“A lot of communities are developing sports commissions to bring people in and in turn help the local economy,” Laney said.

Boone Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Jackson, who was the voice of the Mountaineers’ football program during the historic Michigan win, founded the sports commission.

The commission was established in 2019 and is currently in the process of becoming a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. In 2019, current App State Athletic Director Doug Gillin had a conversation with Jackson about starting a sports commission. 

Don Schumacher, who was, at the time, the outgoing president of the National Association of Sports Commissions, put together a feasibility report in order to see how, and if, a sports commission would benefit Boone. After the report came back from Schumacher, they decided a sports commission would be a good idea. The report analyzed various factors, such as the quality of sports facilities in the area and the strengths and weaknesses of the area in regard to sports related tourism.

Currently, there are nine members on the commission, which reports to the Boone Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Development Authority. 

“The first event the commission assisted was the Sun Belt Football Championship when App State hosted the University of Louisiana at Kidd-Brewer Stadium in Boone,” said Jackson. 

The commission also helped bring sports teams to the High Country. On July 9, 2019, Tobacco Road FC and Tri-Cities FC faced off in a USL League 2 soccer match at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex in Boone. The match was a success with 700 attendees. After seeing that, the commission proposed to bring a professional soccer team to the community. 

Laney says the match between Tobacco Road FC and Tri-Cities FC was agreed to in one day after former App State men’s soccer coach Jason O’Keefe made a few calls. Eventually, after many meetings and careful planning, the commission made the decision to bring a soccer team to the High Country. 

In May 2021, Appalachian Football Club will play its inaugural season as a member of the National Premier Soccer League, one of the largest men’s leagues in the country with over 90 teams. The team will play home matches at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex in Boone.

Additionally, the Boone Bigfoots are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit baseball team that plays in the Textile League. The league fields eight teams from Virginia and North Carolina . The Bigfoots play their home games at Beaver Field in Boone and the season runs from early June until early August according to the team website. Proceeds from the games and merchandise go toward a scholarship fund for App State Athletics.

“The sports commission works with many different organizations for a variety of functions,” Jackson said.