During the 2017-18 school year, no high school in Indiana hosted more IHSAA postseason tournaments than Seymour High School.
Not including days where there were multiple sessions, tournament competition took place on the campus over 23 separate days between the months of October and May.
Seymour hosted sectional games for football, boys soccer, boys tennis, boys basketball, girls basketball, girls track and field and girls tennis. At the regional level, Seymour had boys soccer, volleyball and boys basketball. In semistate action, it hosted boys basketball.
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While some tournaments, like football, dictate the host based on the draw, many are conducted annually at SHS.
“I think its threefold. I think we have very good facilities, our location is good and we do a really good job. Our staff and volunteers take a lot of pride in running tournaments,” SHS Athletic Director Kirk Manns said.
The IHSAA approaches the school each year to determine which events will take place at SHS.
“They will ask if we’re willing to do (a tournament) or if we would like to do (a tournament),” Manns said. “Some, at this point, are a given. For some, like tennis, they will send me an agreement article and I will sign off on it. With some of the other tournaments, we will talk about what they want and what’s best for the IHSAA moving things around. Some of them, at this point, with Seymour High School are a given.”
Seymour took on the boys soccer sectional in part of the construction of the new complex on campus in 2016. Like the soccer tournament, Seymour hosts the tennis tournaments because of the facilities.
“The tennis goes along with the facilities,” SHS Assistant Athletic Director Dave Urbanski said. “We have 10 courts, and most everyone else, on average, has five courts. We also have lights, which is another big factor.”
Manns is a full-time, year-round employee, while athletic secretary Shirley Knecht is full time during the school year. Urbanski splits his time between teaching and working with Manns.
Manns said former athletic director Mickey Beck also spends a lot of time volunteering his time to help the athletic programs.
At events, certified athletic trainer Kyle Coates is typically in attendance to help with any injuries.
“We want a medical expert in attendance at all times,” Manns said. “If Kyle isn’t able to make it, we will get someone else through Schneck (Medical Center). Kyle is a big part of what we do here, too. He does a great job, and he takes a lot of pride in what he does.”
He said the staff, while experienced, is always learning after each tournament.
“I think critics, especially Twitter critics, don’t think about how we don’t have an event staff like the KFC Yum! Center,” Manns said. “We had three straight weeks where the gym had 8,000-plus people this past winter. We learned from our mistakes and made adjustments. We tried to get better each week, and we tried to do that with all of our tournaments.”
While the postseason boys hoops tournament gains major notoriety each year, Manns said he and his staff put their best foot forward for every tournament at the school.
“I think it’s an expectation of our community,” Manns said. “Everybody wants to talk about the basketball but don’t realize that we host many other IHSAA events. It’s an expectation that we have in our office here. We take a lot of pride in being able to run a tournament. We want to make sure teams and schools feels like and believe we did everything to make their experience a good one.”
Another plus of hosting tournaments is that Seymour’s teams get to play on their home turf.
“It’s one of those things where if we can also have our teams participate at home for a tournament, that’s an advantage,” Urbanski said. “We can give our teams that advantage. We have no problem with that.”
Manns said the athletic staff wouldn’t be able to host the events without the help of the administration.
“Our administration, from the central office down to the high school office, is so supportive in everything we do,” he said. “They understand what we’re doing here. We have the full support of the entire administration.”
The athletic staff at Seymour expects to host anywhere from 11 to 13 events again this school year, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.