Volunteers needed for basketball championship

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Volunteers are needed to help Lake Charles host the Louisiana High School Athletic Association state basketball championship tournaments, to be held in March at Burton Coliseum.

Lake Charles will host the girls tournament March 4-8, followed by the boys tournament March 11-15. Each tournament will feature 28 teams.

Eric Zartler, sales manager/athletics of the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the primary area of need is people to serve as team hosts.

“The biggest thing we are looking for is team hosts, people that love the community, love the sport of basketball, want to come out, welcome the teams when they get here and be the liaison between the teams and the area,” Zartler said.

“Give directions to the team if they are trying to get somewhere, suggestions on where to go eat, things like that. People that are well-versed in the community, know their way around and can kind of guide the coaches from the hotel to the practice facility to the complex, get them from Point A to Point B without getting lost. Someone that could dedicate a full day to us. We need ushers, people to work in the hospitality room.

“We want people that are excited to be there, positive people, people that are excited for the event to be here and are going to put that out to the guests that are here and the teams and the players. There is nothing better than going to a strange place and seeing a smiling face at the door holding it open for you. I know Southwest Louisiana is going to come through again, they do for everything.”

Zartler said he hopes to build on the success of the Fast Pitch 56 state softball tournament, which has been held in Sulphur for the past 13 years.

“I work on that event and it is a fine-tuned machine, it has definitely set the bar for every other championship event in the state,” he said.

“Being that basketball is in Calcasieu Parish, we have a lot to live up to. I think we are going to accomplish that. I have talked to several of the organizers and volunteers over there and they have said to get reliable people and the ones that are smiling, and that makes all the difference in the world.”

Volunteers will be trained in advance of the tournaments.

“We will do a couple of volunteer workshops, share with them the schedules and information. We will do that the week before the event so they can pick whether they want to come during the day or the evening, tell them what their duties and our expectations are. We would like them to sign up as soon as possible so we can start planning other areas of the event, but there is no firm deadline. We would like to have our volunteer list complete by Feb. 14.”

For more information or to sign up, call the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau at 436-9588 or visit www.visitlakecharles.org/volunteer.