Holiday Tournament Directors Weather COVID Storm

Local Sports

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Each time his phone buzzed, Barry Gurvey was afraid to answer the call.

“Anytime the phone rings you’re nervous,” said Gurvey. It’s never good news.”

Gurvey, the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament director, saw three teams pull out of the 16-team Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament before it even started. And he wasn’t alone.

“We found out Sunday we were going to lose two teams,” said Manual Holiday Tournament director Tim Kenny. “We had already lost one. It makes things difficult.”

COVID-related cancellations trimmed holiday tournament fields throughout central Illinois this past week. That sent tournament directors scrambling to find substitute teams or find a way to revamp their tourney procedures.

But some basketball was better than no basketball, which was the case last December when all the holiday tournaments in Illinois were canceled.

“We only missed four of the 128 games we had scheduled,” said State Farm Classic tournament Kyle Meyers. “If you had told me that a week ago, I would have laughed in your face.”

Myers is in the first year of his assignment as the director of the 64-team State Farm Classic at sites in Bloomington and Normal. Four schools dropped out before the competition started but he and his tournament committee were able to find three replacement teams.

All the teams in the 16-team Pontiac Holiday Tournament made it to and through the tournament.

“Talking to a lot of coaches that came from up north, they said they cancelled practices, cancelled games just so they wouldn’t take chances getting their boys sick and not being able to com to Pontiac,” said longtime tournament director Jim Drengwitz.

After a crazy week of cancellations, phone calls and back-up plans, tournament directors admit they’ve learned a few things this week that may help them plan events in the future.

“I think what we’ll do is add to our bylaws about how to handle this,” Gurvey said. “So there’s no question (what to do) if a team drops out. It’ll be ‘this is the exact procedure’ to do.”

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