On the third day of the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay, three of the first four games on the day headed into overtime. With most games already ending a half-hour later than expected this year, the extra quarter of play created new problems for the event staff. Nonetheless, strong communication from top to bottom helped avoid what could have been chaos.
“It’s coming up with any solution to problems that we think will really work, and treat the teams fairly because they all come to this event to get a high-quality experience and we have to deliver that to them,” said head supervisor Grady Short.
Springfield College students Grady Short and Sophia Bucal are the head supervisors on this year’s event staff, and the two oversee their staff and manage the teams as they enter and exit Blake Arena. After being selected back in October, they’ve been working with the special events staff and the Hall of Fame to make the annual tournament go as smoothly as possible. Each worked the last Hoophall Classic back in 2020, but the pair are in a leadership position this year.
Each game on Saturday was separated with 90 minutes in between, and with games consistently heading into overtime, it was Short and Bucal who were tasked with having to manage the new issues.
“We have to be ready,” Short said.
Because teams were showing up two to three hours before their games began — due to the first few going into OT — there were more teams than gyms available. With some quick thinking, the event staff was able to use Springfield’s field house as another practice facility for teams.
“[We] wanted to make sure teams waiting were not just standing around,” Bucal said.
With locker rooms being used by the teams on the court, the upper level of Blake Arena was used for teams to relax while they waited for their turn on the court.
“One big thing that has helped so far is the communication from the staff,” Bucal said. Each member of the event staff uses a walkie-talkie, which allows them to communicate from both levels of Blake Arena. Those working downstairs had monitors displaying the scoreboard on Blake Arena, allowing for easier transportation of teams between locker rooms and courts.
For Bucal and Short, their participation in the Hoophall Classic is something they will never forget, and they appreciate the opportunity Springfield has given them.
“They can’t say they worked with the Basketball Hall of Fame… It’s a huge resume-booster for us,” said Bucal.
With both Bucal and Short in the midst of their junior years at Springfield, working event operations has quickly become a field they can see themselves a part of in the future. The two are both registered for venue and personnel management in the spring, and Short jokingly wished they had the opportunity to take the class before the tournament.
“Maybe that would have been nice to have before this event,” said Short with a chuckle.
With unprecedented issues coming and going, both Short and Bucal managed their staff of over 100 students alongside the Hall of Fame, and made sure to accommodate teams when things no longer went as planned.