Coaches, Players, Parents Praise Greeneville Community And Tournament Organizers
BY SARAH R. GREGORY
The 25th annual Landair Ladies Classic basketball tournament wrapped up Tuesday evening and was a great success for teams and fans from both near and far.
This year, teams from Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia joined local and regional girls' high school teams in the tournament bracket.
Groups of parents accompanied the teams and stayed in Greeneville for the past several days, contributing to the annual economic boost local hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses enjoy during the event.
FROM NEAR AND FAR
Landair Ladies Classic Chairman Ron Metcalfe said one couple from Kentucky traveled to Greeneville to watch their granddaughter -- who lives in Florida -- play.
Another couple from Mt. Juliet, he said, have enjoyed coming to the tournament so much over the years that they made the trip this year even though their local team did not participate in the 2013 Classic.
Organizers set out to make this year's Ladies Classic a special success as it marked the 25th anniversary of the tournament launched in 1988 by a group of local citizens headed by Buddy Yonz.
Metcalfe said this year's event was "Great!" and a number of players and fans interviewed by The Greeneville Sun during the final afternoon of the tournament echoed his enthusiasm.
Players from Archer High School, in Lawrenceville, Ga., traveled to the Ladies Classic for the team's first-ever out-of-state tournament and made it to the championship game against the Lady Trojans of Morristown West High School.
The Tigers from Archer ended up taking second place overall in a 16-team tournament that Coach Ryan Lesniak described as being an "unbelievable" experience.
FANS TRAVEL, TOO
Groups of parents and fans from Georgia made the trip to Greeneville to support the team, with more and more arriving each day as the tournament progressed and Archer moved toward the championship match-up.
Many of the Georgia visitors stayed at the Hampton Inn along with the team and enjoyed local restaurants and attractions.
Players for Archer High School and Ohio-based Holy Name High School traveled to Knoxville to watch the University of Tennessee Lady Vols play on Sunday, an open day for the Ladies Classic.
The high school players had the opportunity to meet the Lady Vols and tour the facilities in Thompson-Boling Arena before returning to Greeneville in preparation for more games on Monday.
Shortly after defeating the South Greene High School Lady Rebels to take fifth place overall, Coach Kim Jones of the "Green Wave" of Holy Name High School spoke with the Sun about her team's second trip to Greeneville for the Ladies Classic.
Jones and players on the team commented that the tournament was enjoyable because it was well organized, and because great teams and people were involved.
Holy Name went 2-2 during its first Ladies Classic last year, and improved to 3-1 this year.
Jones said that the tournament not only provides opportunities to learn and improve on the court. In addition, she said, the value of team-bonding during the out-of-state trip is a huge positive factor.
"We appreciate being invited," Jones said, adding that the team enjoyed playing in the tournament and liked traveling to Greeneville.
"It's an awesome tournament -- great people, great teams and great hosts!" she said.
Another bonus, senior team members said, is the multi-media coverage the Classic receives.
Thanks to continuous updates posted on the Internet as the action happens, players have been able to check out photographs from their games almost as soon as they step off the court.
Team members from Holy Name High School say they have been looking through their in-game photos "right away" each night upon returning to their rooms at the General Morgan Inn.
The Greeneville Sun website on the 2014 Landair Ladies Classic delivered scores, game summaries, and photo galleries for each of the 29 games of the annual tournament.
Information and photos were posted to LadiesClassic.GreenevilleSun.com within minutes of each game's completion, said Wayne Phillips, the newspaper's Sports Editor Emeritus, who worked on the website and who has been associated with the tournament since its first year.
Sun photographer Phil Gentry posted more than a thousand photos of the games, the awards program, half-time entertainers, and fans.
Those images may be viewed and purchased online at LadiesClassic.GreenevilleSun.com.
The Sun's Ladies Classic website won a "Best Multimedia" award from the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors in 2013, said Brian Cutshall, the newspaper's director of online operations, who coordinated online aspects of The Greeneville Sun's coverage of the tournament.
Radio Greeneville Inc. broadcast all games of the Landair Ladies Classic, as well as providing "live streaming" of the games via the Internet.
At LandairLadiesClassic.com, Tusculum College provided "live stats" updates during the tournament.
CHALLENGING TRIP IN 2012
In all, five seniors and four juniors on the Holy Name team have traveled to Greeneville before.
This year, they said, was even better than last year, since they picked up an additional win and made the trip to Tennessee on schedule.
Last year the team's bus experienced mechanical problems that turned a seven-and-a-half hour trip from Ohio to Greeneville into a 14-hour ordeal, but the team persevered and played anyway.
Once they arrived in Greeneville, the Ohio contingent was greeted by their host family -- Jason and Amy Shelton, of Greeneville.
KEY ROLE OF VOLUNTEERS
Host families serve as a point of contact for the out-of-town visitors. They recommend restaurants, give some pointers on local sights and activities, and help in other, perhaps even more important, ways -- such as opening their homes' laundry rooms to keep team uniforms clean.
It's that kind of support from local volunteers, Metcalfe said, that makes the Landair Ladies Classic a great success every year.
"The tournament's success is because of support from the fans, support from Landair and our other sponsors, and the hours upon hours volunteers and staff have contributed," he said.