With the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship having begun Monday, the Sports Arena has been jam-packed with junior college teams and fans from all over the country.
With that in mind, how does everything not get out of control?
There are behind-the-scene people who help run the NJCAA Tournament and manage possible chaos. One of these groups is the team hosts. Tom Reilly, a Topeka native and Hutchinson resident is Hutchinson Community College’s host for this year.
“Every team has a host, and there are 24 teams in the Tournament,” Reilly said. “The hosts don’t know who they have until the seeds are finalized. Once they are informed who they have, they reach out to the school and introduce themselves.”
Their job is mostly to help the team with time management, scheduling practices and supervise the locker rooms and on benches with the team they are hosting. They cater to the coaches’ needs.
Sometimes, hosts know their designated junior college team close enough to have friends or acquaintances within the community. For instance, Reilly knows some people in the Hutchinson community who can help him out and he knows Blue Dragons coach Steve Eck well.
Because of his connections with Trinity Catholic, Reilly got to schedule a Blue Dragon practice for Tuesday night in advance, if the Blue Dragons were to win that afternoon against Cape Fear. Since they did win, they got to go over plays in preparation for Wednesday night’s game against Florida SouthWestern.
Reilly mentioned that he hasn’t gotten to host HutchCC until this year, and he is excited he is on the Blue Dragons’ bench this season.
“I’ve worked as a host for about 13 years,” Reilly said.
He has been through this several times and said that he always looks forward to basketball season. That is how he got his job in the first place. He said that he was asked in 2006 if he would be willing to become a host since he was a well-known basketball fan.
Since then, he has enjoyed the experiences he has had with the teams he hosted so far.