The 2019 Region II National Junior College Athletic Association tournament, to be played at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, is only a few weeks away. It’s scheduled for March 6-9 and this will be its 24th consecutive year in Shawnee.
OBU, working with the local Shawnee committee, has agreed to host the tournament next year, too, Larry Smith, committee chairman has said.
Smith said, “Robert Davenport, Athletic Director for OBU, is going to be a huge ally in our quest to continue to make this a great reward for the athletes but also for the citizens of the City of Shawnee.”
“OBU has made several great enhancing changes to the gym and I know the student athletes will be happy to play in this new and exciting venue. The committee is very happy to be back at OBU and I know their staff and all the folks at OBU will do a terrific job,” he said.
“VSI has also played a vital role in making this tournament happen each year during March Madness. They have always been there willing to get in the trenches and work with us every year from start to finish,” he added.
Seminole State College and the Seminole community have played an integral role in the 23 years the tournament has been hosted in the community of Shawnee, as did St. Gregory’s and OBU has, Smith said.
Smith pointed out, “it’s the volunteers who have made this tournament possible throughout the years.” In addition to Smith, L.D. Wortham, Lance Wortham, former St. Gregory’s Coach Don Sumner, Mike McCormick, Sue Snodgrass and Hope Pickering have been there from the outset.
The late Ken Fullbright served as chairman for 23 years. He passed away in January following a long, courageous battle with cancer.
“There have been seven or eight volunteers who have been there from the beginning,” Smith said. “We have a great group of guys and women who put this together,” he added.
“We have added some new people over the past few years,” he noted.
“There have been five, six, seven of us who are always there,” he said.
Those who have joined the committee through the years include Rick Gowin, Carl Packwood, Tim Barrick, Brad Walck, Kenny Howard, Rachael Melot, Nick Atwood, and Mike St. John.
Adding to that last year were Davenport, Deonne Moore and Brian Dude, all from OBU. This year Danielle Rains, Visit Shawnee President/CEO, Amanda Johnson, Visit Shawnee Director of Marketing, have joined the committee.
Major sponsors include OG&E, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Pottawatomie Telephone Co., the VSI and Black Hawk Casino.
“TS&H has been one of those with us from day one too,” he said.
“These are in addition to the 40 or 50 other sponsors we have annually as well,” Smith said.
There will be four games played daily beginning on Wednesday, March 6, running through Friday, March 8, at 1, 3, 6 and 8 p.m. The final two games will be on Saturday afternoon at 2 and 4 p.m.
This year the men will play on Wednesday, the women on Thursday, and each will play Friday and Saturday in the semi-finals and finals.
Smith continued, “We’re helping kids move on to the next level. We’re giving them an opportunity to play before 40 or 50 college scouts and coaches, men and women.
“For a lot of these kids it’s the only way to get an education and in turn allow them to turn into the kind of people we want to be our leaders in the future,” he said.
He noted that because it’s played in Shawnee, “it provides the opportunity for coaches at OBU to look at 240 kids during this tournament each year.”
The eight women’s and eight men’s teams will be playing to decide which women’s and which men’s teams head to their respective national tournaments in March.
Ticket prices are $20 to attend all the games. Individual session tickets are $10 for adults and $7 each for Seniors and kids first grade through college.