Community volunteers assist teams
By RANDY GONZALES
After a two-year hiatus, there will be another "coach" on the bench at this week's Class 1A Division II state basketball tournament.
For decades, there were guest coaches assigned to each state tournament team that made the trip to play at Fort Hays State University's Gross Memorial Coliseum.
That practice ended in 2010. However, tourney coaches told the Kansas State High School Activities Association they missed the personal touch of a guest coach to assist their teams.
Jana Jordan, executive director of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, asked Brenda Herrman to be volunteer coordinator for the guest coaches. She is being assisted by her husband, Les, who had been a guest coach for more than two decades.
Hays Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, as well as other volunteers, will be guest coaches for the 16 teams at this week's basketball tournament.
"We have an honorary coaches meeting (today) to hand out information to these volunteers that are going to become what we call an honorary coach," Brenda Herrman said. "The honorary coach contacts the team coach on Monday of next week."
The honorary coach can sit on the end of the bench, and is asked to help the team while it is in Hays, offering advice about good places to eat, where to do laundry and everything in between.
"We have been able to fill those slots," Brenda Herrman said. "When we had a two-year drop, it makes a difference; people stay busy.
"We have learned over the years you seek out people who have an interest in this, want to do it. Some of them are return people who have helped us in the past."
There also were guest coaches at the state volleyball tournament last fall, and the program had a presence at last month's state wrestling tournament.
Les Herrman said both he and his wife are contacted by former players they got to know during their trips to Hays.
"That's the greatest thrill, people coming up to you and saying thanks," he said.
The chamber also is providing an added service for the first time this week. Executive Director Tammy Wellbrock will station herself next to the pass gate to answer questions.
"I'll just be there providing another level of support and knowledge and awareness to our community," Wellbrock said.