Athens Review, Athens, Texas

August 22, 2013

A battle is brewing

Defending NJCAA champions Iowa Western Reivers’ return to Athens, brings economic impact

Joe Elerson
The Athens Review

Athens — The city of Athens will be packed on Saturday evening for the second annual Battle In The Valley sponsored by Virtual Communications Specialists.

Iowa Western, the No. 4 nationally-ranked team and defending NJCAA national champions, will be here to test the Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals at 6 p.m. Saturday on the Bruce turf.

The contest was started by Trinity Valley Community College Coach Brad Smiley and a local businessman, Paul Benson, last year — a game that the Reivers won, 40-20 last year in Week 3 of the 2012 season.

Iowa Western makes the trek again from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Athens behind financial assistance from Benson and local attorney Jeff Weinstein.

“The community is behind this game. Paul Benson is doing this for the second year and making this happen is unbelievable,” Smiley said. “Jeff Weinstein jumped on to help feed the team Friday night and this is a bowl game atmosphere.”

The financial assistance was given to bring more than 100 players, coaches, managers and trainers to Texas for the big game.

The game is expected to be a huge economic impact for Athens with players, parents and family members also coming to the city to eat, drink and sleep.

This year, the annual classic will have a tailgating party starting at noon where fans can come and have hamburgers and take part in other events.

Fans will have an opportunity to win an HP Elitepad 900 tablet, courtesy of HP and Virtual Communication Specialists.

Fans will also be able to catch all of the afternoon's sports action on a 3x3 video wall. They can also test their skills on a variety of video games, including NCAA Football '14.

“We will have noise makers at the stadium and he (Benson) thought it would be fun to bring some of the big-game atmosphere to Athens,” Smiley said. ”I think this gets our name out there to the whole Midwest.”

For five bucks, Smiley said, people who like to see a lot of Division I players slug it out for three hours on Bruce turf can save money and be entertained at the same time.

Smiley said another impact of this year's contest is the publicity coming for the Iowa and Texas media.

“This is great to get our names out there. We have 16 media requests that were given to us by both outlets for this game,” Smiley said. “We are kicking off the junior college season with our game at 6 p.m., so everyone will be able to see our score across the country.”