The NCCAA DII National Basketball Championship Tournaments, which began Monday and end Saturday, draw large crowds to the campus of Bob Jones University.
Over 300 student-athletes and coaching staffs are present, as well as thousands of on and off campus guests, according to sports information director Jonny Gamet.
What these crowds do not see is the time and effort put into the tournament’s success by staff and volunteers. The tournament has many moving parts and requires much coordination and communication between departments. However, this year is slightly easier since BJU has already hosted three national tournaments, and the Athletic Department learned from them.
The tournament is fast paced; the Davis Field House supervisor team, made up of both students and faculty, keeps things running smoothly and fixes what is not.
“The days are just kind of blurry,” Madison Poe, senior health sciences major and office manager of the Athletic Department said. “At times you’re just like, ‘This is kind of boring.’ But then five minutes later, you need to be in six different places.”
According to Gamet, more than 100 people, including students, volunteers and staff members, contribute to the success of the tournament.
Over 50 student workers and volunteers work in the Davis Field House throughout the course of the tournament. Poe oversees most of the student workers and reports to the assistant athletic director, Wyatt Parker.
During the national tournament, Poe’s student staff work the ticket booths, run the concessions’ table, monitor the hallways around the main court and guide teams to locker rooms. Poe has many people helping her keep the DFH ship-shape. “I definitely do not do it alone,” Poe said.
Sage Passarelli, sophomore sport management major, helps Poe with scheduling the workers. Together they created a document on Google Docs that records shift times and who is working when.
Jess Powell, a crew chief in the DFH, also works closely with Poe in the Athletic Offices and helps manage the workers. Poe also has secondary supervisors who work many hours opening and closing the gym.
In the office, Poe does a lot of communicating between the teams, departments and others. Her job is to “put out fires,” including complaints, broken ticket scanners and miscommunications between teams. A lot of times, Poe acts as the middle man. “It’s just like communicating to people who can actually do something,” Poe said.
In addition to the student workers, about 15 to 20 student volunteers help with the tournament. Their jobs typically fall in the category of court maintenance: sweeping the key and three-point line and wiping up sweat.
Cross-country coach Landon Bright oversees the volunteers as well as the practice scheduling for the 14 teams participating in the tournament. Two practice courts were used off-campus Monday and Tuesday at Hampton Park Baptist Church and Relentless Church as well as the upper east and west courts of BJU on Wednesday.
Gamet supervises a team of about 12 workers who record statistics, take pictures and video for social media, update the social media and fill the Brody team.
Gamet himself also communicates with the NCCAA chair and runs all of the logistics of the tournament. Getting sponsors is another one of Gamet’s tasks, as well as creating the tournament guides that feature the teams.
Yet even more goes into the national tournament. NCCAA representatives check in to make sure the tournament is running smoothly. Athletic trainer Taylor Wilson and her staff stand by for medical assistance. The DFH facilities require cleaning each day; many custodial workers put in effort to keep the building clean.
Banquets are hosted on campus for the teams. Aramark provides chefs, waiters and food for these events.
Jordan Baun in the Center for Global Opportunities arranges a community service project for each team. Baun contacts many different organizations in search for an organization with the ability to host 15-25 volunteers at once. “The community is always very thankful for the many things these sports teams are able to contribute,” Baun said.
Hotels in the area also provide lodging for the many teams and fans visiting Greenville. With so many people visiting, the tournament positively impacts Greenville’s economy.
“We have a lot of fun at these tournaments,” Gamet said, “but it certainly is a lot of work. I enjoy being able to be ‘in the shadows’ and look and see all the teams, coaches and fans having an enjoyable tournament. To me, that’s a win for us because it means we did our jobs well.”