Polk County to host six high school state championship events annually, in multi-year deal
AUBURNDALE – The state Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) championships for high school volleyball and weightlifting will join basketball in calling Polk County home for the next five years, thanks to a partnership orchestrated by Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing (PCTSM) including its long time partners Polk State College, the RP Funding Center and Polk County Public Schools.
“Polk County Public Schools (PCPS) is honored to work with PCTSM and our local partners to host state championships for the Florida High School Athletic Association,” said Senior Director of Athletics Dan Talbot. “PCPS will collaborate with the RP Funding Center and Polk State College to host championship matchups for basketball, volleyball and weightlifting. Each competition will bring significant numbers of visitors, creating a tremendous economic impact for our area. Polk County is well known for hosting high profile FHSAA events, and we look forward to continuing that tradition.”
The FHSAA championships for both girls volleyball and boys volleyball will be held at the Winter Haven Campus of Polk State College. While girls volleyball is a fall sport, boys volleyball is played during the spring.
“To have student-athletes, their friends, families, and classmates from across the state utilize our wonderful facilities and see our beautiful campus is a tremendous opportunity for Polk State College and our community,” said Stanley Cromartie, Polk State Director of Athletics. “We’re humbled to partner with PCTSM, Polk County Public Schools and the Florida High School Athletic Association as these high school athletes compete in championship matches that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
The FHSAA championships in weightlifting will call the RP Funding Center home. A spring sport, the state championships for boys weightlifting will be April 14-15. A winter sport, the state championship for girls weightlifting will be Feb. 17-18.
Of course, the RP Funding Center in Lakeland has been the home to the FHSAA boys and girls high school state basketball championships for many, many years. The girls FHSAA state championships will be held Feb. 22-25, 2023, while the boys FHSAA state championships will be held March 1-4, 2023.
“The City of Lakeland, Polk County and the RP Funding Center have enjoyed a rich tradition for more than 30 years of hosting the Boys and Girls HS State Basketball Championships, not to mention wrestling, volleyball and cheerleading,” said Tony Camarillo, the Executive Director of the RP Funding Center. “We are excited to add the Boys and Girls State Weightlifting Championships to our roster, bringing with it new revenue to our local businesses.”
According to Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing Director Mark Jackson, the winning teams aren’t just the ones playing on the court.
“This is just another great example of what makes Polk County such a great place to work, play and stay,” said Jackson. “Partnerships for PCTSM have been a core philosophy for decades and continue to pay dividends to the businesses and municipalities we serve while providing what we hope is a home field advantage for our winning Polk County athletes.”
The projected economic impact for all championship series is expected to exceed $30 million over five years.
“The commitments being made by each of these organizations, along with Polk County’s overall location, amenities and track record for hosting state championship events in the past, makes this a winning formula for all involved,” said FHSAA Executive Director Craig Damon. “The FHSAA and its members schools would like to thank everyone for their time, energy and willingness to promote high-level championship experiences for all involved.”