The 1964 film “Muscle Beach Party” is remembered for two things. It featured a then 13-year-old Stevie Wonder and — as the title might imply — a large contingent of athletes who made an impression in the sand with their weightlifting skills.
There may not be any Hollywood directors in Gulf Shores this weekend, but there will be plenty of powerful amateur athletes flexing their muscles during the fifth annual Alabama’s Strongest Man/Woman Contest.
The competition will be in the courtyard of The Hangout in Gulf Shores. Chris Slater, owner of Alabama Strength in Foley, is promoting the event.
“I am the chair for the state of Alabama with the North American Strongman Corporation,” Slater said. “Part of my role is to host a contest every year, but also try to help promote the sport of strongman in the area.
“This is our fifth year running this contest. We went from 14 athletes in year one to 73 last year.”
Competition starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There are five events for the participants: max axle press (for state record), axle deadlift for repetitions, duck walk medley, sandbag carry for maximum distance, plus keg carry and load. On Sunday, there will be an atlas stone-loading event where the athletes have a chance to win money.
The field will be divided into six divisions: Women, Novice, Masters, Lightweight Open, Middleweight Open and Heavyweight Open. Slater is expecting competitors from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana.
Although there is no admission charge for spectators, Slater said a portion of the proceeds will go to the family of 3-year-old McKinley Turner, who is battling anaplastic ependymoma, a rare childhood brain cancer.
For more information on Alabama’s Strongest Man/Woman Contest, call 517-812-4143 or send email to [email protected].
UM soccer teams get noticed
In preseason soccer polls for the Southern States Athletic Conference, the University of Mobile women’s team is picked to win the league title. Their male counterparts should also be in the running as they are third in the ballots.
• The Lady Rams got four first-place votes to edge out powerhouses Martin Methodist and William Carey. Last year, UM and Martin Methodist shared the regular-season title while William Carey grabbed the tournament trophy.
Brian Person is entering his 11th season as head coach. Last year’s club finished 15-4-2 overall and reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NAIA Championships.
“Graduating as many players as we did last year, we know it will be very tough to hold onto the number one spot,” Person said, “but we will work very hard to attempt to be ranked number one in the conference at the end of the year as well.”
Cayla Hebert, twice a NAIA third-team All-American, returns along with Noemi Mallet (SSAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year), Nikole Cruz (SSAC Newcomer of the Year), Cheyne Bush (SSAC All-Freshman pick), Colleen Kennedy, Savannah Rommel and Adama Samura.
The Lady Rams open play Aug. 24, hosting Spring Hill at 7 p.m.
• The Rams are picked behind William Carey and Dalton State in the men’s preseason poll. Coach Daniel Whelan’s team was 11-7 last year.
“As always, the SSAC will be extremely competitive,” said Whelan, now in his fourth season. “It is a very hard league with a lot of good teams.”
The Rams return 17 players, including eight starters. Two-time Offensive Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner Newton Henry leads the way. Fellow all-conference member Casey Culver joins him as the two seniors have combined to record 37 goals and 12 assists.
Other all-league selections include Jordan Sinclair (2015 Defensive Player of the Year and 2016 first-team pick) and Lamine Conte (SSAC All-Freshman).
The Rams hit the pitch August 25 at John Brown University in Arkansas. The first home match is Aug. 29 against Pensacola Christian.
Jaguar soccer game moved
Because of a conflict with a University of South Alabama football game, the Jaguar soccer team will move its Sept. 8 game with Southeastern Louisiana up one day. The starting time will remain at 7 p.m.
USA’s football game with Oklahoma State was originally set for Sept. 9, but was moved for television. It kicks off that Friday at 7 p.m. from Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
In other soccer news, the game against Alabama on Sept. 1 is now set for 7:30 p.m.
USSA faculty member featured
Dr. Brandon Spradley, United States Sports Academy’s director of sports management, was recently interviewed about the growth of eSports (video game competitions) in collegiate athletics for an article.
The “Learning English” program, Voice of America’s multimedia source of news and information for English learners worldwide, published the article, titled “Are Video Games the Next Big College Sport?”
VOA articles are both printed and voiced so that English learners can read along with the story. It can be found at www.learningenglish.voanews.com.
Spradley has conducted scholarly research on the growth of eSports and recently co-authored a piece on the subject for The Sport Journal, USSA’s peer-reviewed online production. The article can be found at www.thesportjournal.org.
Beans up for NCAA honor
Kaitlyn Beans, a former USA track and field athlete, is one of two women nominated by the Sun Belt Conference for the 2017 NCAA Women of the Year Award. The other nominee is Haley Haden from Louisiana-Lafayette.
The award is based on academics, athletics, service and leadership. There are 145 nominees. The winner will be announced Oct. 22.
During her career, Beans captured six individual conference titles in the triple jump and long jump. A second-team NCAA All-American, she was the 2017 SBC Outstanding Field Athlete of the Year as well as the Jaguars’ Female Student-Athlete of the Year.
Beans was a three-time recipient of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s All-Academic Award. In the community, she volunteered at Little Sisters of the Poor Nursing Home and St. Mary’s Orphanage. She also served on South’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.