The Great Lakes Valley Conference will host its annual GLVC Football Kickoff event Aug. 1, at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts on the campus of McKendree University.
The GLVC Football Kickoff event serves in preparing one the nation's newest NCAA Division II football conferences for its third season on the gridiron. Following two successful events in St. Louis, this year's celebration moves across the Mississippi River to scenic Lebanon, on the campus of McKendree University.
This season's event, which will serve both the league's media members and passionate fans through several social media outlets, will take place at The Hett from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT.
"We are excited to host such a great event for the Great Lakes Valley Conference," said Chuck Brueggemann, director of athletics at McKendree. "The GLVC Football Kickoff is one of the premier events held by the league each year, and draws a wide variety of attention through both tradition and social media platforms. The 2013 Kickoff was one of the most talked-about events at the NCAA Division II level, and it is our goal to aid the GLVC in making this year"s event even more successful."
According to GLVC officials, the Hett will provide the perfect fit for the third annual event as the GLVC continues to expand its coverage and number of participants in the sport it began sponsoring in 2012. In its first two seasons, GLVC Football Kickoff was held at the Millennium Student Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis -- a conference member that does not sponsor football. The 2013 edition was a rousing success as the event"s official Twitter hashtag, #GLVCkickoff, trended second only to the NFL Pro Bowl over a two-day span.
Moving to a venue just steps away from McKendree's Leemon Field will already give a distinct football flavor, but it will also serve as the origin of another new era for GLVC football.
McKendree head football coach Mike Babcock will welcome his peers to his home turf after he led the Bearcats to a fourth-place finish in the GLVC at 3-4, including a 4-6 record in his first season in Lebanon. McKendree will have 41 returning lettermen, including 18 starters, back from last year"s squad. Babcock will lead the Bearcats into their 2014 season opener on Sept. 4 at Leemon Field against Ferris State University.
For the first time, the head coach will be joined by not one, but two student-athletes from each of the nine GLVC football institutions to help promote the 2014 campaign, which this year will include two new associate members in Lincoln University and Southwest Baptist University. Last October, the GLVC and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) entered into a Strategic Conference Football Scheduling Alliance, enabling MIAA members Lincoln and Southwest Baptist to join the GLVC in the sport of football only in a proposed four-year agreement.
Southwest Baptist is led by Craig Schuler, who is in his second season mentoring the Bearcats and is known for his offensive mindset from his previous nine campaigns at Lindenwood University. Lincoln's Mike Jones enters his fourth season in Jefferson City, Mo., but most notably is known for being a 12-year veteran of the National Football League"s St. Louis Rams. Jones made "The Tackle" on the one-yard line to preserve the Rams' win over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, which is arguably one of the greatest moments in Super Bowl history.
In his fourth season, Indianapolis head coach Bob Bartolomeo, guided the Greyhounds to their second consecutive undefeated league season as well as back-to-back GLVC Championships and NCAA Division II Playoff appearances.
Cory Sanders is set to open his fourth season in Rensselaer after guiding the Pumas to an 8-3 record last year, including a 5-2 mark in conference play to tie for second with Truman and Missouri S&T.
Gregg Nesbitt's Bulldogs, who nearly earned a share of the GLVC Championship in their first-ever season competing in the GLVC, finished 7-4 overall after a 5-2 league record.
In his first year on the Missouri S&T sidelines, Tyler Fenwick guided the Miners to a 6-5 mark and a 5-2 stint in the GLVC.
At William Jewell, Jerod Kruse is set to open his fifth season after turning in a 3-8 mark and 2-5 conference campaign in 2013. Tom Pajic is back at Quincy for his third year following a 2-9 overall record and a 1-6 finish in the GLVC.