Marymount hosts first two rounds of NCAA tournament after 10 years
By: Melanie Martinez
This is it. It’s all eyes are on us. Women’s basketball has won conference and now it’s onto the next step: the NCAA tournament. When Marymount put in a bid to host, it was only a matter of time before the athletic department could really get prepared to host the first two rounds of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
The NCAA tournament is the national tournament where various schools get to compete for a chance to become national champions in each division.
The last time Marymount was chosen to host the first rounds for the Women’s basketball tournament was ten years ago during the 2009-2010 season, so the pressure to do well was on.
Before a team has the chance to compete, they have to win their respective conference. Certain conferences have automatic bids into the tournament while others have to place a bid. Once a bid is placed, schools are chosen by a committee and placed in a bracket.
Since Marymount is not in a conference with one of the automatic bids, a bid had to be sent in order to be chosen to play in the tournament as well as to become a host.
When choosing a host for the bracket, there is a lot that must be taken into account. According to d3hoops.com, “geography, facilities, attendance history and revenue potential and a school’s willingness to host” is taken into account when deciding which team will host.
According to athletic director Jamie Reynolds, the process to place a bid started well over a year before. In the year prior, Reynolds had to plan out how tournament weekend was going to be kept free from other sports competitions before putting in a bid. Also, she had to consider which sports they were going to be able to host because there is a lot of work that needs to be planned beforehand.
However, Reynolds said that too much planning should not be done because you never know if you are really going to host until a few days before teams arrive. So, there needs to be a plan that can be put into motion within a matter of hours from finding out that the school is hosting. Yet, there cannot be any overplanning because it would be a waste of time, money, and resources if not chosen as host.
Once it was announced on the Selection show on Monday, March 2nd that Marymount was going to host, it was all hands on deck because the visiting teams would be arriving soon.
Every minute counted and there was lots of work to be done.
Reynolds was no longer in charge of the actual process of setting up for the tournament, Stacy Natoli was in charge of getting everything under control and set up.
On the communications side of the tournament, Josh Laveck was in charge of setting up the press conference room, live stream, and oversaw other game-day operations.
“Working these games is not much different than working the regular conference tournament games,” said Laveck. “However, we were regulated by the NCAA with what music we can play and when the clock has to start for warmups.”
Laveck also had many of his student staff work certain operations during the games, such as managing the ticket booth, merchandise table, as well as taking stats during the games and recording the live streams.
“[During] normal games we let students, staff, and parents/friends on the guestlist come in for free, but since we were under NCAA rules, everyone had to pay. We had to explain this to the parents and students who usually come in for free,” said student worker Sita Nair.
However, despite these changes, there were not many changes to what the games normally were as well.
“This was a little bit different because I could tell my mom ‘look at me at the table wearing a yellow pass,’” said student worker Carolyn Treuting. “But other than that there really wasn’t anything different.”
According to Laveck, the biggest difference for this tournament was the fanfare. “We had areas roped off and we gave people wristbands,” said Laveck. “It was a little more like going to a Division I or professional game.”
Laveck also explained that there are lots of small details that they had to do very last minute such as having a print shop print out signs and put them up before teams arrived on Wednesday night or Thursday.
He also explained that he had previous experience working during tournaments when he was at Salisbury University, however, this was the first tournament he worked where he was in charge of game operations.
“That helped me be more comfortable going through this tournament here at Marymount, but having the first time where I was in charge with what was going on in my office, makes me even more comfortable for the next time,” said Laveck.
Another aspect that required a lot of attention was the preparation of the athletic trainers. In order to do that they had to make sure that everything was in place and to be ready in case of an emergency.
According to Karen Lipyanek, the women’s soccer and lacrosse athletic trainer, there was not much preparation that had to be done, but it was a matter of staying organized and available.
“As we got closer to the tournament we started setting up water jugs, making sure the locker rooms were clean,” said Lipyanek. “There were signs that had to go on the locker rooms to show which teams went where and we had to make sure that the water was filled in the locker rooms every time.”
Not only that, but they also had to make sure towels were available for those who wanted to shower after games, which added onto their responsibility of doing laundry.
“Laundry I’m pretty sure was going 24 hours a day because we had all these towels we had to do on top of our laundry in the athletic training room,” she said.
On top of helping with water and towels, the trainers had to make sure everything was stocked for our own women’s basketball team. They also had to communicate with the other trainers about emergency procedures and even make themselves available to attend the practices of the visiting teams.
“When you visit another school as an athletic trainer you look to that school’s athletic trainer to be the person you look to in case of an emergency,” said Lipyanek.
One common theme did arise throughout the entire process: it was an entire collaboration between the entire athletic department and other departments of the school as well. As soon as the department found out that we were hosting, everyone pitched in to help set up in some way.
Coaches from different teams also helped to put up banners and signs in the Lee Center and around the campus in order for the visiting teams and fans to know where they were going.
“I think one of the important things to take into account is the collaborative effort that took place between Athletics, Campus Safety, the Copy Center, and Physical Plant to get everything into place and coordinated in such a short amount of time. We also had many faculty and staff come together to support the team at the games, so it was a true team effort to provide a great tournament atmosphere,” said Reynolds.
However, throughout this whole thing, most of the reflections of this experience were positive, from the students to the staff.
“What I enjoyed the most was how professional everything was. It made me feel important walking around with a tag and wearing an NCAA polo,” said Nair. “Even though the first day was crazy, I’m glad I got to be a part of this experience and be part of history for MU.”
There was also a sense of pride that some students felt while working the tournament. “It really felt like an honor to be hosting the NCAA tournament and working the event. That’s another huge end goal for teams after conference champions of course. The NCAA is a ‘hey look at me’ and how my school represents ourselves in our conference. It was an awesome experience watching and taking stats (statistics) for a high-level and intense tournament,” said Treuting.
According to Reynolds, there are already plans on placing a bid to host the first rounds of the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament for next fall.
One thing it is for certain, a lot was learned from this tournament.
“The one thing that I learned was to be a little more proactive and things have to happen really fast and it is really important to do them as soon as you can,” said Laveck.