9/11/172018 NIKE Palmetto Cup adding a girls field to tournament Thomas Grant, Jr., Lexington County Chronicle
A new location and now an expanded format for next year’s NIKE Palmetto Cup.
Starting in 2018, the 26-year-old tournament will have a girls’ field to go along with the 24-team boys’ field that will compete April 3-5, 2018 at Saluda Shoals Athletic Complex at 6071 St. Andrews Road.
Co-founder and Gray Collegiate boys’ soccer coach Kevin Heise has confirmed plans to solicit commitments from at least eight to 12 girls teams for the tournament.
So far, only the Lady (War) Eagles and A.C. Flora have signed up.
The Crescent Cup, the girls’ version of the NIKE Palmetto Cup, was started two years ago by Heise when he was coach at Brookland-Cayce High. It will now continue under the guidance of Airport High head coach Keith Morris.
"My understanding is that the Crescent Cup will be a 16-team tourney field this year at Airport High only,” Heise said. "I want to be clear that we truly have enjoyed our relationship with the Crescent Cup and Airport High School, but in regards to the formation of the Girls Division to the NIKE Palmetto Cup, it really was just a matter of ‘it’s the right time to do so.’
"We have discussed the possibility in the past, but with only two fields at your disposal, it made the situation impossible. Now, with our use of the Saluda Shoals Complex for the (NIKE Palmetto Cup), we have multiple fields at the complex making it much easier.
"We feel the addition of the girls division will only enhance the stature of the Nike Palmetto Cup and hope to grow the girls side to the reputation enjoyed by the boys side currently.”
Throughout Heise’s 28-year tenure at Brookland-Cayce, the NIKE Palmetto Cup was jointly held between his school and Airport High.
It was named "The Southeast’s Premier Boys High School Soccer Tournament” by StudentSports.com as teams from as far away as Oklahoma and Puerto Rico competed in the event.
His departure from B-C prompted the move of the NIKE Palmetto Cup from Cayce to Saluda Shoals.
Among the 21 boys’ teams to commit are Gilbert, Gray Collegiate, Lexington and defending champion Wando. Even with the expanded field, Heise plans to coordinate the games at the Saluda Shoals Athletic Complex in a "normal tourney manner with equal access to fields and game times taken into consideration to be fair to all participants.”
For more information, contact Heise at (803) 447-6496 or visit nikepalmettocupsc.com