January 26, 2013

More than basketball at county tournament



Food and hospitality in MInco

There's a lot of food at the Grady County Tournament.

Eight schools bring 16 teams. Sixteen teams have between eight and 12 players, who each bring parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members. Each team has several coaches. Students come to watch their friends play.

And that's still not everyone. There are teachers, administrators, and volunteers who are at the Minco Activity Center from early in the afternoon before the games start until after 10 p.m.

It takes a lot of food to feed a crowd that size every night.

The concession stand is staffed every day by volunteers. The Chickasha Bank & Trust Company and the Bank of Union each volunteered to staff the concession stand for a day.

For those involved with the tournament, including coaches, administrators, teachers, workers and media, there is the hospitality room.

Each day, Shirley, with plenty of help from the Minco Booster Club, makes sure there is enough food for everybody to eat from 4-10 p.m. Some of the food is prepared by club members, and some of it is catered from local food establishments.

Monday there was pizza. Tuesday there were sandwiches. Wednesday there was food from Chicken Express, and also more pizza.

The refrigerator is fully stocked with water, Gatorade, soda and lemonade, and there are many different snacks and desserts. All of that preparation takes a lot of time, and sometimes a lot of money.

"The county has a checking account, and since I was at Verden last year, I still have it," Shirley said. "The county funds pay for the hospitality room. The gate fees go back to the county, minus the expenses for the tournament.

"There have been years when $3,000 or $4,000 has been spent on a hospitality room, which is absurd, so we try not to do that," Shirley said. "But even what we're doing will cost $1,500 to $2,000."

Tracy Allen is the vice president of the Minco Booster Club. She said that as busy as it's been, the assistance she and her club have had has made it bearable.

"It's been a lot of fun," Allen said. "A lot of help helps, if that makes sense. It's for the kids, it's a good cause."

Allen and the booster club sell t-shirts, solicit donations for the team and for the hospitality room, and make sure there is someone staffing the hospitality room each night.

"Administrators and coaches do a bulk of the work, we just kind of assist wherever we're needed," Allen said.

There are more people involved in the tournament still. The National Guard volunteered to staff the pass gate. There are maintenance workers, student volunteers who sweep the floors between games, and other volunteers who work in the concession stands or help with clean-up. There are scorekeepers and scoreboard operators who watch every second of every game. Each one of them is necessary for smooth operation.

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