As the 75th annual Tournament Of Champions gets underway Thursday, many elements of the tournament will be slightly different than other years.
Friday night, one of those will be the welcoming back of 60 years of TOC Committee members.
“It felt like we needed to do some things to kind of tie it all together a little bit,” said Shawn Steiner, Dodge City High School activities director and Tournament Of Champions co-tournament director.
Another will be bringing back the All-Time All-Tournament team.
Friday will not be the first time former members of the TOC Committee, which is all-female, will have been welcomed back, but it isn't a frequent occurrence either, Steiner said. The last time it was done was in 1999.
“We really felt like it was time,” Steiner said. “If you do something every year, you don’t get as many back, but we felt like it’s been about 20 years, we’ve got a lot of new ones, it really was time to bring back all those girls, all the ladies that were on the committee and bring them back and have a little reception for ‘em and let them be recognized since this is the 75th (TOC).”
The TOC Committee was first established in 1956. Over the years, a number of members have served on it, then eventually had daughters or granddaughters that did the same.
Last year was a good example. Steiner said two of the the three on the committee last year were daughters of former committee-members. It was cool to hear them talk about how as little kids they knew about the committee because their mothers had been on it.
The committee includes girls who are sophomores, juniors and seniors. They are enrolled in a class, with the sophomores and juniors spending every other day as their schedule allows, Steiner said. There are two sophomores this year, three juniors and three seniors. The seniors are there every day.
Sophomores spend the year learning how it all works, but the year is largely introductory to them. Juniors get some responsibility, such as contacting cheerleaders, but also get some space to watch how the seniors on the committee operate.
The seniors, Steiner said, are the ones who do the most, and this year was even more difficult for them because of it being the 75th year of the TOC.
“They’re really the ones that do the majority of the work,” Steiner said. “They get kind of a right of passage when they come to senior year. They are the main people contacting schools and contacting halftime-performers and things like that to get them available.”
This year’s seniors are Leah Stein, Kameron Lowery and Sydney Foster.
“It’s one of those things that’s kind of cool because our sophomores, being the first year, they don’t really know what to expect,” Steiner said. “They really get to sit back and see the whole thing, whereas our juniors get to take a little bit more of a lead, and then by the time they are seniors they’re fully in charge of the tournament and basically do a lot of it.”
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