It was so traumatic, Jeff Maul remembers everything that happened the day back in 2010 when the Nebraska School Activities Association board of directors voted to move the state high school volleyball tournament from Lincoln to Grand Island.
“I can even tell you what I had for lunch that day,” the executive director of the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau told the board on Thursday at their January meeting in Lincoln. Lincoln had hosted state volleyball from 1981 to 2009.
Of course back in those days, Maul’s proposal to the NSAA had the now-abandoned Pershing Center as the centerpiece facility.
Armed with the Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Devaney Sports Center, the primary state volleyball sites the last six seasons in Lincoln, this was another uneventful day for Maul as the board voted 7-1 to keep state volleyball in the Capital City for the next five years.
Grand Island, which hosted four state volleyball tournaments between 2010-13, also made a bid Thursday, with the 6,500-seat Heartland Events Center headlining the proposal. Its bid also included a clause in which Grand Island and Lincoln would share the event with Grand Island hosting in years when Nebraska has home football games during the state tournament.
Grand Island also touted the rave reviews it received when the tournament was there. GI Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Brad Mellema reminded board members that in 2013, the last year before state volleyball moved back to Lincoln, 79% of the teams that played in the 2013 tournament wanted to see it return to Grand Island.
He also said that 92% rated the hospitality in Grand Island as excellent or good.
But in the end, PBA, which has hosted United States women’s national team matches and international tournaments, and Devaney, the home of the Huskers, won out. First-round matches for the 2020 tournament will be played on two courts at PBA and four LPS high schools on Nov. 6. The semifinals will be on the two PBA courts Nov. 7, with all six championship matches at Devaney on Nov. 8.
Lincoln’s attendance for the 2019 tournament was 41,298, the most since the event moved back from Grand Island. The last year it was held in Grand Island, attendance was 31,754.
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Lincoln, however, also fared well on the financial front. The Lincoln bid included annual incentives of $95,000 per year from the Convention and Visitors Bureau for 2020 and 2021, and $105,000 for 2022-24. The NSAA received $85,000 last year to help cover facility rental and other expenses.
Jennifer Schwartz, NSAA associate director in charge of volleyball, said that the $85,000 exceeded the rental costs and the cost of workers, leaving the organization with a net of around $20,000.
The Grand Island bid covered all NSAA expenses and a $10,000 incentive.
Pinnacle Bank Arena general manager Tom Lorenz told the board that two Taraflex courts, the same court the Huskers play on at the Devaney Sports Center, are being purchased and will be used for the 2020 tournament.
The board also awarded Lincoln with the state unified bowling championships for the next five years at Sun Valley Lanes, the site of the first four state events from 2016-2019. The 32-lane facility will host the PBA U.S. Open men’s championships next month.
In other business, Sutton superintendent Dana Wiseman was introduced as a new board member from District 1 starting in the 2020-21 school year. She’ll replace Fillmore Central superintendent Mark Norvell, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Lincoln Public Schools athletic director Kathi Wieskamp is the other District 1 board member.
The board revealed that two different girls wrestling proposals advanced through the district meetings earlier this month for consideration this spring. An approved ruling to bring girls wrestling in as an emerging sport will be decided by the board at its April meeting. A separate proposal to make girls wrestling a full-fledged NSAA sanctioned sport also received enough support to make it onto the Representative Assembly agenda in April.
Girls wrestling needed 30 of 50 votes to be ratified at last year’s Representative Assembly, and the vote was 29-21 to approve.
A girls state high school wrestling tournament sponsored by the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association will be Feb. 1 at York.
Among the seven new cooperative sponsorships passed by the board on Thursday was one for Parkview Christian and College View to form a boys soccer team this spring.