Grand Ole Opry Partners With Big Machine Music City GP For Second Consecutive Year

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix and Grand Ole Opry are partnering for a second consecutive year on the three-day festival of racing and music that will be held Aug. 5-7 at the Nissan Stadium campus in downtown Nashville.

The partnership will be highlighted by a live 90-minute performance of the legendary Grand Ole Opry show from the ZYN Main Stage on campus beginning at 5:45 p.m. CT on Sunday, Aug. 7. The lineup for the special show, titled Grand Ole Prix, will feature multiple performers and be announced in the coming weeks. Last year’s performance featured The Oak Ridge Boys, Callista Clark, Danielle Bradbery, Riley Green and Justin Moore.

“We are more than ready for another round of Grand Ole Prix,” says Dan Rogers, Opry Executive Producer. “While it’s been rare for the Opry to take trips outside Nashville for performances in iconic venues such as New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, it’s also quite uncommon for the show to step outside its permanent home for an outdoor performance in downtown Music City. We’re all looking forward to announcing a great show line-up and then to playing for hometown fans as well as guests from around the world in August.”

The Grand Ole Prix performance will culminate with a three-night concert series on the Nissan Stadium campus in association with the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Superstar Tim McGraw was recently announced as the featured performer for Saturday, Aug. 6, of the concert series.

“We are excited to be extending our partnership with the Grand Ole Opry,” Big Machine Music City Grand Prix CEO Matt Crews shares. “Last year’s INDYCAR post-race Opry performance was truly one of the weekend’s highpoints. We look forward to growing on that with music and additional promotions this year. The Opry is an iconic experience and the ability to bring that to our Big Machine Music City Grand Prix fans is very special.”

Brothers Osborne were previously announced as the headline act for the Saturday, Aug. 6 concert.

Three-day tickets and premium packages that are currently on sale provide admission to all on-track activities featuring the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix and all three concerts. Three-day tickets begin as low as $129 for general admission and $209 and $219 for reserved grandstand.

The Sports Credential Essentials—June 2022

June is here and that means NASCAR is heading back to Music City for the second annual Ally 400 at the Nashville Superspeedway.

The Superspeedway will be hosting another packed NASCAR weekend with the Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Cup Series races. Follow The Sports Credential all month long for exclusive content leading up to the highly anticipated NASCAR weekend.

Nashville SC is also in the heart of its season after a great May, which saw the opening of GEODIS Park and the extension of the club’s undefeated streak at home. This month, Nashville has four games, two of which are at home against San Jose and Kansas City. Nashville SC will be hosting its official PRIDE Night on June 11 against San Jose. The Boys in Gold will finish the month when they head to Orlando to face the Orlando City in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.

Both Tennessee and Vanderbilt are back in the NCAA Baseball Championships. The Volunteers hold the No. 1 overall seed and will host the Knoxville Regionals. Both teams will fight for a chance to play in the Super Regionals and hopefully the College Baseball World Series, which will take place June 16-27.

For more events and games, head to The Sports Credential calendar.

Tennessee Titans Sports Industry Career Fair at Nissan Stadium
Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee vs. Alabama State; NCAA Baseball Championship – Knoxville Regionals
Vanderbilt vs. San Diego; NCAA Baseball Championship – Corvallis Regionals

Nashville SC vs. San Jose – PRIDE Night at GEODIS Park Park
Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville Metro Sports Authority Board Meeting at Nissan Stadium
Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville SC vs. Kansas City at GEODIS Park
Nashville, Tennessee

JUNE 24 
Rackley Roofing 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Nashville Superspeedway
Lebanon, Tennessee

Tennessee Lottery 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Nashville Superspeedway
Lebanon, Tennessee

Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Nashville Superspeedway
Lebanon, Tennessee

Nashville SC vs. Orlando City at Exploria Stadium; U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals
Orlando, Florida

Special Olympics Tennessee To Host First State Summer Games Since 2019

Photo: Courtesy of Special Olympics Tennessee

Special Olympics Tennessee (SOTN) will host its annual State Summer Games this weekend (May 20-21) at Lipscomb University for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The games will be played at the Lipscomb Academy and Centennial Sportsplex, and will feature six different Special Olympics sports with more than 600 athletes from across the state participating.

“We’re so excited to be back for the first time in three years,” says Sean Stake, VP of Sports for Special Olympics Tennessee. “Our athletes, coaches, volunteers and sponsors are thrilled to finally be back. The athletes have waited a long time and have worked hard to show off their skills to compete against their peers at this year’s games.”

Photo: Courtesy of Special Olympics Tennessee

Opening ceremonies for the State Summer Games will take place tonight (May 20) from 6:45-8:45 p.m. at Allen Arena on the Lipscomb University campus. The event will feature a processional of participating athletes, awards and an encouragement speech from Super Bowl champion quarterback Trent Dilfer.

During the event, athletes will be competing in bocce, powerlifting, swimming, tennis, track and volleyball. Competitions will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (May 21).

A full schedule can be viewed on the Special Olympics Tennessee website.

“Opening Eyes, Healthy Hearing and health promotion Healthy Athlete events are an opportunity for our athletes to receive much-needed health screenings and education,” says Dr. Natalee Kamau, SOTN’s Manager of Health and Fitness. “These opportunities allow for us to assess needs in the areas of vision, hearing and general fitness and nutrition so that our athletes can participate at their highest level. We believe our athletes can achieve great things when given the right tools.”

To kick off the event, law enforcement agencies from across the state will take part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. This includes Metro Nashville Police Department, Brentwood Police Department, Knoxville Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sevier County Search & Rescue, and more. Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into Opening Ceremonies of competitions.

Throughout the event, SOTN athletes will also take part in Healthy Athletes screenings. Opening Eyes will offer free vision screening and Healthy Hearing will free provide screening for ears. There will also be fitness and nutrition booths to help educate athletes on healthy food and drink choices.

Registration is also open for Young Athletes, a program for children ages 3 to 10 with and without disabilities. More information can be found on the SOTN website.

John Ingram, Ja Morant, And More Announced As Tennessee Sports Hall Of Fame Class Of 2022 Honorees

Nashville SC owner John Ingram and Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant. Photos: Courtesy of Nashville SC and the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame has announced the honorees for its 2022 Achievement Awards, with Nashville SC principal owner John Ingram and Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant topping the list as the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame 2022 Tennessean of the Year.

Other top honors include a celebration of the 50 anniversary of Title IX, Memphis Grizzlies, Middle Tennessee State Head Track & Field Coach Dean HayesCandace Parker (Chicago Sky), Jack Leiter (Vanderbilt Baseball), Rachel Heck (Stanford Golf), East Tennessee State Football, and Tennessee Southern Women’s Soccer.

These honorees will be recognized for their achievements this past year alongside the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2022 inductees Sharrieffa Barksdale, RA Dickey, the late Harry Galbreath, Artis Hicks, Jevon Kearse, Randy Lambert, David Legwand, Nikki McCray-Penson, David Suddeth, Tony White, the late David Williams II and Toby Wilt.

Ingram has led Nashville SC from its USL origins to be one of the most successful MLS teams these past two seasons. In May, Nashville SC opened GEODIS park, the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S. and Canada, in front of a sold out crowd of over 30,000 fans.

Morant has been one of the best players the NBA for the 2021-22 season, leading the Memphis Grizzlies to the second round of the NBA Playoffs and has been named as Male Professional Athlete of the Year. After sustaining an injury last season, he was awarded the NBA Comeback Player of the Year averaging 27.4 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game and 6.7 assists per game. The Grizzlies have been named Professional Team of the Year after having one of their best seasons in almost a decade finishing second in the Western Conference winning 56 games.

Candace Parker has been named Female Professional Athlete of the Year. Parker, a former Tennessee Lady Vol, joined the Chicago Sky in 2021. The regular season ended with Parker and the Sky earning the No. 6 seed in the playoffs. They won two single-elimination games, followed by an upset of Connecticut in the semifinals, before beating the Phoenix Mercury to win the 2021 WNBA Finals. Parker averaged 16.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game on the way to her second World Championship.

Vanderbilt’s Leiter was one of five consensus first-team All-Americans nationally. He named a first-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). He was also the SEC Newcomer of the Year. He was selected by the Texas Rangers with the second overall pick of the 2021 MLB Draft. He has been named the Male Amateur Athlete of the Year.

Female Amateur Athlete of the Year is being awarded to Stanford golfer Rachel Heck. She is a native of Memphis, and a graduate of St. Agnes Academy in Memphis. She is a five-time AJGA All American, two-time USA Today High School Golfer of the Year, a four-time individual state champion, and winner of many events through the course of her prep career. Now, as a sophomore at Stanford, she is already tied for third most victories in school history.

Other honorees include Title IX 50th Anniversary for the David Williams Significant Historical Achievement Award, MTSU Track & Field coach Dean Hayes for the Pat Summitt Lifetime Achievement Award, the Tennessee Southern Women’s Soccer for the Female Amateur Team of the Year, and the ETSU football team for the Male Amateur Team of the Year.

The honors will be formally presented as part of the hall’s 2022 Banquet, presented by the Tennessee Titans on July 23 at the Omni Nashville Downtown. Tickets for the banquet ceremony can be purchased through the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame website.

U.S. Awarded 2031, 2033 Rugby World Cups; Nashville Named As Possible Host City

The United States has been named the host country for the 2031 men’s Rugby World Cup and 2033 women’s Rugby World Cup, the World Rugby Council announced on Thursday (May 12) morning.

The council unanimously approved the staging of Rugby World Cup in the U.S. as well as other nations. This will be the first time the men’s Rugby World Cup has ever been played in the Western Hemisphere and the second for the women’s tournament (WRWC was hosted in Canada in 2006.)

“The confirmation of host locations is supported by a new partnership approach to event delivery, that will power long-term, sustainable development, including in the USA and across the women’s game, enabling the sport to realize its global potential on and off the field, driving significant social and economic benefits for host nations,” said World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.

It was announced England will host the women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 and that Australia will host men’s Rugby World Cup in 2027 and women’s Rugby World Cup in 2029. The U.S. and Australia are the first-ever countries to be awarded both premier tournaments in the same country over a two-year period.

“I speak for the rugby community and fans across the United States when I express our sincere gratitude to World Rugby for their trust and endorsement of our vision to grow this incredible sport exponentially across our country,” said USA Rugby Chief Executive Ross Young.

“USA Rugby will now venture into a new era and ensure the sport’s most treasured event is a springboard for creating lasting, sustainable enthusiasm and passion for rugby from coast to coast,” added Young. “We look forward to partnering with World Rugby in the years ahead to ensure that our preparations for these tournaments and the events themselves are a paradigm-shifting catalyst for the growth of our sport, not only here in the United States but around the world.”

Nashville joined USA Rugby’s effort to bring the international Rugby tournament to America and is one of the top host city choices, according to a release from October of 2021.

“We were honored to be asked to support the U.S. bid as a potential host city. Now that the U.S. has been selected, we will be diligent in our efforts to be one of the cities to host games during the third largest sporting event in the world,” said Butch Spyridon, CEO, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp in a statement to The Sports Credential.

The U.S. along with Mexico and Canada are set to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup and Nashville is bidding on becoming a host city for the soccer tournament as well.

Music City will be a prime candidate for both the FIFA and Rugby World Cup tournaments when the Titans build a new football, modern and state-of-the-art stadium.

The Sports Credential Essentials—May 2022

The month of May brings some exciting events for the Nashville sports world.

Nashville SC opened GEODIS Park on Sunday, May 1 and will play four more home games this month, including rival Atlanta United FC twice.

May also means NHL postseason, and the Nashville Predators punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the last week of April. The Preds have made the playoffs each of the last eight seasons and will be taking on the extremely tough Colorado Avalanche starting on May 3. They host the Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena on May 7 and 9 for games three and four.

The Titans will be hosting its first ever Titans Foundation Dinner on May 18 hosted by general manger Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel. Fans can purchase tickets for the event and all proceeds will go to the Titans Foundation.

For more events and games, head to The Sports Credential calendar.

Predators vs. Colorado in Game One of the NHL Playoffs First Round
Denver, Colorado

Predators vs. Colorado in Game Three of the NHL Playoffs First Round at Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville SC vs. Real Salt Lake at GEODIS Park
Nashville, Tennessee

Predators vs Colorado in Game Four of the NHL Playoffs First Round at Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee

MAY 11
Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United FC in U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 at GEODIS Park
Nashville, Tennessee

MAY 18
Nashville SC vs. Montreal FC at GEODIS Park
Nashville, Tennessee

Titans Foundation Dinner at Nissan Stadium
Nashville, Tennessee

MAY 19
Nashville Metro Sports Authority Board Meeting at First Horizon Park
Nashville, Tennessee

MAY 19-21
Vanderbilt Baseball’s Final Series vs. LSU at Hawkins Field
Nashville, Tennessee

MAY 21
Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United FC at GEODIS Park
Nashville, Tennessee

Walker Zimmerman & Hany Mukhtar Extended Through 2022, Named Designated Players

Pictured (L-R): Walker Zimmerman, club majority owner John Ingram, and Hany Mukhtar. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC majority owner John Ingram announced on Friday (April 29) that Hany Mukhtar and Walker Zimmerman‘s contracts have been extended through 2025 and that both have been named Designated Players.

“One of the things that was important to me was that I wanted to build something that was sustainable, not just a flash in the pan,” Ingram shared in a press conference. “I don’t know how you build something that’s sustainable and carries on if you’re not keeping your best players.”

The two athletes have been key members of the club’s success in its first two seasons in MLS. Zimmerman was named back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year and Mukhtar was on the shortlist for MLS MVP in 2021. Behind both players and head coach Gary Smith, Nashville SC has made it to the conference semifinals in back-to-back seasons, the first club in MLS history to do so in its first two seasons.

Additionally, the pairing turned Nashville into the seventh team in league history to go a full season unbeaten at home.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this moment. I’m so happy to be here in Nashville,” Mukhtar noted. “I didn’t know much about [Nashville], and from the first day, I just can’t thank everyone in the organization enough. Everyone welcomed me with open arms and showed me the city and that’s really something special. It’s really feeling like my second home and there wasn’t a doubt in me that I wanted to stay long term.”

Mukhtar made 31 appearances, playing 2,505 minutes in 2021. He scored 16 goals and assisted 12 goals, leading the league in goals scored and assists combined. His offense elevated the team from a mostly defensively focused team which helped lead them to the MLS Playoffs.

Walker Zimmerman and Hany Mukhtar against the San Jose Earthquakes. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC.

Zimmerman has been the backbone of Nashville SC since day one. His defense and leadership earned him a spot on the USMNT roster where he helped the team qualify for the 2022 World Cup. He is one of very few defenders in the MLS to be named a Designated Player.

“It’s incredibly humbling first of all. Just that they would commit to me in that way,” Zimmerman explained. “When you look at the league and the amount of attacking talent that is coming in year after year, you have to have guys who can stop them. Centerbacks are an extremely important position. I’m proud to have this deal as a centerback and I don’t take that lightly.”

These deals were done just days before the opening of the club’s newest permanent home GEODIS Park, giving is a testament to the club’s dedication to star talent and their desire to continue getting better and attracting players.

Both Zimmerman and Mukhtar have laid roots in Nashville. Zimmerman and his wife Sally welcomed their baby boy Tucker into the world last year, while Mukhtar is engaged to someone he met in Nashville. Mukhtar is also set to open a soccer academy for the youth players of Nashville, showing his dedication for his adoptive city.

“That’s what was in my decision to sign a new deal: I want to be here,” Mukhtar summed. “It’s not because they’re the only club that wants me. I want to be here, I want to be successful here in this city and in the club.”

The Boys in Gold will play their first home match of the season on Sunday, May 1 at 3 p.m. at the brand new GEODIS Park to a sold out crowd.

Walker & Sally Zimmerman Start Men’s Soccer Endowed Scholarship At Furman University

Nashville SC defender Walker Zimmerman and his wife Sally have announced the Walker and Sarah Tucker Zimmerman Endowed Scholarship for Men’s Soccer at Furman University.

The Zimmermans’ commitment is part of a larger effort surrounding men’s soccer to expand scholarships through endowment, while creating greater long-term financial sustainability for the program. The effort, led by former players Rob Victor, Graham Seagraves and David May, and Spinx chairman Steve Spinks in partnership with Furman Athletics, has raised $1 million for the men’s soccer scholarship endowment and maintains a goal of raising $2 million total. Before this fundraising initiative began, the men’s soccer scholarship endowment stood at only $27,000.

“My wife, Sally, and I are thrilled with the opportunity to give back to the school and soccer program that brought us together,” says Zimmerman. “We believe Furman soccer is special, and are excited about being committed to help build a positive future for the program.”

The Zimmerman’s both attended Furman and Walker played two seasons on the soccer team. He recorded 11 goals and five assists and helped the program to a 26-8-7 record during his time in Greenville.

In 2011, Zimmerman was named to College Soccer News and Soccer America’s Freshman All-America First Team squads while garnering Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and first team all-league honors as the Paladins posted a 14-4-4 record and earned an NCAA berth. In 2012, Zimmerman played in and started 17 games while scoring six goals and adding three assists. He captured College Soccer News First Team and NSCAA Second Team All-America honors after leading the Paladins to a 12-4-3 record and captured first team All-SoCon accolades.

“Furman Athletics is deeply grateful for the generosity, leadership and friendship of Walker and Sally Zimmerman,” says Furman Athletics Director Jason Donnelly. “Walker and Sally’s passion for Furman University is inspiring and the creation of their endowment will allow Furman soccer to continue to provide transformational opportunities for talented student-athletes seeking academics and athletics excellence. We are proud of Walker’s impressive accomplishments on the field for Nashville SC and the United States National Team and admire the Zimmermans for their impact upon Furman and the Nashville community.”

Zimmerman is set to become only the third player in program history to compete in a FIFA World Cup later this winter in Qatar. He will join Furman Athletics Hall of Famers Ricardo Clark and Clint Dempsey as the only players in program history to appear in a FIFA World Cup