Posted on March 21, 2012
Originally published as a Letter to the Editor in The El Dorado News-Times on March 22, 2012.
To the Editor:
For the first time in the history of the 6A classification, the State Basketball Tournament was held in the southern part of the state here in El Dorado. This also marks the first time that a state basketball tournament has ever been hosted by El Dorado. Thirty-one teams traveled to El Dorado and Union County to participate in the tournament. These teams filled with local hotels and supplied many restaurants with business, which is one of the reasons for hosting the tournament. Another reason for hosting the tournament was to showcase the new high school facilities and the community. Judging from the comments of the visiting school teams, administrators and fans, they were very impressed with our facilities and the hospitality of the community. Although our teams did not make it to the finals, the tournament was still a huge success.
I would like to take this opportunity to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this tournament a success. I will start with Henry Florsheim of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Frank Hash for lending their support to bid on the tournament. The Chamber also spearheaded getting donations from the following businesses for the coaches welcome bags: BNB Solutions, Inc. ? Chris Elia; State Farm Insurance ? Michelle Balstad; First Financial Bank ? Beth Weldon; South Arkansas Community College ? Heath Waldrop; T.O.U.C.H. Coalition ? Jill Weinischke; Life Share Blood Center ? Brandy Jones; Applebee?s ? John Rudock. The coaches were very appreciative of this kind gesture. Thanks to the local hotels and restaurants for working with the visiting schools to make reservations and schedule meals for their teams.
I want to thank the people responsible for what happened on the court each day, our tournament staff. They worked with the officials, secured line-ups, kept the scoreboards, the clock, sharpened pencils, copied scorebooks for the media, iced drinks for the teams, kept the brackets updated, and the list just keeps going. Billy Blackburn, Stephen Harshaw, Wendall Cartwright, Randall Miller, John Lynn, Donnie Tank, Landon Dover, Scott Perry, and Kathy Gill, along with Wayne Garner and Jason Sanders were responsible for everything that happened on the court during the game. Special thanks goes to our two announcers John Ralston and Mark Williams for lending us their professional voices for the games and for their help in making sure games ran smoothly. To Sargent Neville Matthews and the JR ROTC Color Guard and Greg Odom and the EHS Choir for presenting the colors and singing the National Anthem each day. John Peterson, Tom Simmons, Nelson Post, Tim Zylks, Byron McCoy, Sharon Tucker, Nellis Caldwell, Vince Dawson and Steve Shofner for working the ticket and pass gates and many other jobs; Kenneth Vaughn for handling the buss parking; and Lindsey Perry of ARTATTACK Graphic Designs for making the tournament street signs.
Thanks to Rel Luttrell for the tournament brackets. Thanks to Rick Arnold and the district maintenance staff, especially George Rainwater, for helping set up for the tournament. Thank you to Murphy USA for providing drinks for all the teams. Thank you to South Arkansas Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center Doctors Greg Massanelli, Kenneth Gati, and Dewayne Daniels and Trainer Lauren Lynch and also Dr. Robert Watson for providing medical services for the tournament. I also want to thank a group of young people who many times were the first people the teams and coaches met when arriving at the tournament. This group was responsible for passing out the coaches? bags, opening the dressing rooms, passing out and collecting forms, and just being our ambassadors. This group was the EHS Student Council and their sponsor Jason Sanders. They were organized, friendly, and on top of their game, which represented the school and community very well.
Many times the success of the tournament is not judged by what happens on the court but by how good the hospitality room is. Should that be the case this year, we should not have any problem getting to host the tournament again. Our hospitality room was awesome. I cannot begin to express my appreciation for those responsible for making it such a huge success, but I will try. Beginning with Bridgett Crain, Mary Beth Moore, Stormy Stanley and Dewanna Gober; these ladies were responsible for everything from organizing the room to decorating to serving food and just giving a hearty welcome from EHS to every visitor who entered the room. They spent many thankless hours preparing for the tournament and also working during the tournament.
To our cheer coaches, Tabatha Neely and Octavia Mahone, a huge thanks for providing and organizing the workers which consisted mainly of the freshman and varsity cheer squads. Thanks to Carolyn Smith, Bonnie Haynie and Alice Mahony for volunteering their time during the tournament. Of course, none of this would gave happened without the food that was prepared for the room. The following people were responsible for doing just that and what a great job they did: Mel?s Seafood – Lori Newton; Fayrays – Richard and Brandy Alewine; Mark and Geni Smith and Pat Johnson; Abe?s Ole Feed House – Whit Reed; St.Paul United Methodist Church – Rob Walker; Kozy Kitchen – John Duran; Ife?s Restaurant – Karen Seweje; Chicken-2-Go – Dana Tyson; T-Ricks – Donnie Clayton; the staffs of Barton Junior High, El Dorado High School, Hugh Goodwin Elementary, Northwest Elementary, Retta Brown Elementary, Union Elementary, Yocum Elementary, Hurry Back, Brookshire?s, Walmart, Mac?s Fresh Market, Neely Wholesale Supply, and South Arkansas Community College. Those who had the opportunity to visit the hospitality room know what I am talking about when I say it was awesome.
To Katy Cox and the year book staff for designing and selling the programs, thank you. I would also like to thank our other sponsors, First Financial Bank, Simmons Bank, Bancorp South, Murphy Motor Company and Murphy Oil Corporation. Thanks to Leah Panter for making the brochure for the arena as well as her East Lab classes for making team signs. Thanks also to Dewana Gober for making arena signs.
Because of Police Chief Ricky Roberts and Captain Kevin Holt, security was provided for the event and the teams were safe while visiting our community. To our school resource officers Michael Nolan, Latisha Heard and Kathy Phillips, thanks for all you do. I would also like to thank Chief Chad Mosby of the El Dorado Fire Department for providing the ambulance service for the tournament.
Thanks to Coach Scott Reed and the EHS football staff and the football boosters for running the concessions.
I want to thank EHS Principal Jim Tucker for his many hours he dedicated to the success of the tournament along with his assistants Alva Reibe, Russ Bechtelheimer, Derrill Smith and Shayna Lamkin. I also want to thank the EHS staff for their support as well as the students that supported our teams.
I want to thank our district Superintendent Mr. Bob Watson and the El Dorado School Board for allowing us to bid on the tournament, knowing that it would not make any money for the district, but understood the importance of bringing the tournament to El Dorado in an effort to give back to the community. Of course I want to thank the entire community for embracing the teams and fans while they were here and sending them home with a good feeling about El Dorado and South Arkansas and hopefully many will visit our community again.
— Phillip Lansdell, Athletic Director
El Dorado Public Schools