Who would have thought that basketball would be the tie that binds so many families in the Chenango County area? With a touch of trepidation, Gus Macker made its debut in July of 1996 with just over 200 teams competing. The exuberance and excitement of the first-year tournament overcame inclement weather on opening day, and since that time, the tournament has maintained such a high level of execution, it is seemingly run on auto-pilot.
“Oh no, it definitely does not run on auto-pilot,” said Tom Revoir, now in his 16th year as local tournament director of the 3-on-3 basketball tournament. “We have anywhere from 200 to 250 volunteers involved, and those might be modest numbers.”
The volunteers range from the set up of the courts in the days preceding the tournament, player registration, water runners, garbage removal, concessions, scorekeepers, and above all Gus Busters. Many of the same faces volunteer at the tournament, and have done so nearly every year since the inception. That has allowed for continuity, but it’s a situation that is good and bad, Revoir said. “We need some new blood,” he said. “The veterans are getting burned out and are just tired. It’s about time to pass the torch.”
At least this year, the passing of the torch will not take place. Still, Revoir cautioned that volunteers to serve as Gus Busters required to actually officiate games and “blow the whistle” are low. “Without enough Gus Busters, there is no Gus Macker Tournament,” Revoir said. “We’ll never have a problem getting teams. We had to cap the number of teams in the fourth year, but I bet we could still get close to that (high number) if we allowed that many entries. What we need now are guys confident in their officiating skills and an understanding of basketball. If you understand the rules of basketball, the rules of Gus Macker will not be a problem.”
Thursday, two days before the tournament’s opening, Gus Busters are asked to attend a summary of their duties with guest speaker Bruce Bonney offering a presentation of proper officiating techniques and conflict resolution. “Bruce does a great job and he teaches Gus Busters a command of presence on the court and how to deal with the unruly parent or fan,” Revoir said.
As for the tournament itself, not much has changed. Saturday, Mid York Press will sponsor the three-point and dunk contests, popular activities that usually draw large crowds on the top men’s and women’s courts. Also available are the Tom Schwan Memorial Kids Court for young kids not participating in the tournament, and a “Dream Court” set up for kids 14-and-under. Kids who have the opportunity to play on the dream court will be treated with play-by-play announcing. “The dream court gives the feel of kids playing on the top men’s court,” Revoir said.
About the only thing that could potentially put a damper on the tournament is Mother Nature. Rain is the enemy of all outdoors basketball tournaments, yet Norwich’s Gus Macker Tournament has completed all 16 of the previous tournaments without any serious complications. “Games have been postponed on Saturday and games have been canceled,” Revoir said. “The biggest thing is that on Sunday (if it rains on Saturday), every team needs to report to their court at 8 a.m. (To finish the tournament), we’ll play shortened games until we finish.”
Revoir also reminds players, fans, and supporters of the tournament to remember that while Gus Macker is a competition, it is a fun-filled, family sporting event small on trophy size, but large on life-long memories. “We’ve done a good job running this event from top to bottom, and it’s a quality event,” Revoir said. “It’s about being a quality community event, that’s what drives people to come here.”