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EH Schools, CitC and a united effort save Classic in the Country

Heavy snowfall accompanied earlier ice and made for some travel risks that put this year's Classic in the Country at risk. Thanks to a concerted effort, the show went on as advertised, and East Holmes School District's administrations played a key role in making it happen.

Dave Mast

Since its inception Classic in the Country has made it a priority to promote unity, teamwork and keeping open the doors of communication that will hopefully help the nation better understand how to get along as one.
The 2018 CitC XV was a shining example of how those attributes can unite people and help overcome some pretty huge hurdles.
As Mother Nature unleashed a brutal winter attack on Holmes County as Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend approached, CitC officials realized the massive winter storm was going to unleash its fury on Amish Country right when the girls high school basketball showcase was about to kick off.
With area hotels booked, restaurants preparing to be inundated with the huge crowd that accompanies this event and 32 teams preparing to play 20 games in three days, all of that was in danger of fading away into the storm that brought both ice and snow.
However, in a 24-hour period, CitC officials, Hiland High School administration and even Bill Andrews, who heads up the referee crews who call the games, put forth a collective effort that showed just what a little bit of cohesiveness and willingness to work together can accomplish.
What happened during that 24-hour flurry of activity paved the way for the showcase to remain a 20-game event, and even during the Saturday, Jan. 13 opening day when the weather was at its worst, a throng of fans still showed up to view one of the nation’s finest high school girls basketball events.
Perhaps Erik Beun, East Holmes superintendent, summed it up perfectly as he described the way so many different entities came together.
“It was a big team effort, and it took everyone working together and communicating, and I can’t say enough about everybody’s attitude about the way so many people were able to come together and make sure we had a quality event while at the same time keeping the safety factor in mind,” Beun said.
Beun said much of the onus from the school perspective fell on the shoulders of Hiland athletic director Art Yoder.
“I can’t say enough about Art and the investment he put into making sure we were able to support such a great community event,” Beun said. “We saw people chipping in everywhere, and while we had to make a lot of alternate plans, it was amazing to see the way everyone just dug in and did whatever was necessary to make things run smoothly.”
Yoder said nobody panicked when the process of revamping the weekend became a reality.
The biggest change in venue was having the Saturday 10 a.m. opening game moved to Sunday at 10:30 a.m. In a community that truly values the sanctity of Sunday morning worship, the school allowed the game to be moved to Sunday morning after plenty of thoughtful introspection.
“The school district was very accommodating in allowing the game to be moved to Sunday morning, which is very out of the norm, but considering the circumstances, Mr. Beun and the school board were very helpful and understanding in allowing us to make that move for the sake of the event,” Yoder said. “It has been amazing to see how this has come together over the 24 hours that has allowed us to keep all 20 games.”
Aside from the games, another factor the school district had to factor in was the economic impact CitC has on the county. In an area so dependent on tourism, the winter months are oftentimes slim when it comes to tourism. For 15 years Classic in the Country has infused a shot of adrenaline to a slow time.
With many area businesses relying on this event to serve as a bridge to get from fall to spring, it was vital that the show went on as scheduled or as close as possible.
Many fans and even some teams rolled into town early Friday ahead of the storm, figuring if they were at least in Berlin, they could find their way to the Reese Center.
The fans’ commitment to the event was evident as well, as the attendance didn’t suffer a whole lot despite the weather.
It was all one enormous effort from many, and it took a lot of people giving and allowing themselves to bend a little, plus a whole lot of hard work, to pull it off.
Yoder said once all of the changes were made, the school and CitC used every available news media outlet and social media to spread the news concerning the status of the event and the updates to the schedule.
“Everyone that we dealt with throughout this whole thing extended a lot of grace and a lot of mercy and understanding with the situations,” Yoder said. “I think seeing everyone come together was a very impressive thing because everyone was thinking about the whole instead of themselves. It all came together, and it took a lot of people willing to make it happen, but in the end it worked out well.”

Published: January 23, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180129996