Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hospitality in good hands at Basehor-Linwood tournaments

January 24, 2007

Mary Myer has been running the hospitality room during sporting events at Basehor-Linwood High School for the past seven years. She is a key component to putting on the kind of first-rate tournaments that BLHS is becoming known for.

And yet, a vast majority of people attending these tournaments never see her face. She is a key cog in the process even if she is largely unrecognized by those who enjoy the fruits of her work. It can be a thankless job, but someone has to do it.

"She has been terrific, ever since we have had our tournaments," BLHS Athletic Director Joe Keeler said. "She is a great team player, and is very hospitable, and does a great job with all of the hospitality room food and everything else. That is a big factor in any tournament. She does a great job for us."

The hospitality room is set up for all sporting events when Basehor-Linwood will be hosting several teams. This includes last week's Bobcat Invitational boys and girls basketball tournament, the Bobcat Classic wrestling meet and league track meets. Non-yearly events are added as well, such as when BLHS hosted the Kaw Valley League Duals early in December.

Referees, coaches, tournament workers, bus drivers, sponsors, security, and the media are allowed entrance into the hospitality room. Myer doesn't like having to police the rule, but she will if she has to.

"Everyone would eat here if they could, you know?" she said.

Myer's workload has expanded over the years. She has had charge over the hospitality room since its inception. In the beginning, there were only a couple of events per year.

"It started out that I just did it for the two big tournaments," Myer said. "It's like when something comes along, Joe asks if I can do it, and I always say yes."

Keeler is grateful for Myer's work ethic.

"No, never," Keeler said emphatically when asked if Myer had ever turned down a request to set up the room. "Never."

Myer is in her 27th year at Basehor-Linwood. She began her teaching career in Harrington, Kan., where she stayed for two years before moving to BLHS. She stays busy as the assistant district advisor for the FCCLA (Family Career and Community Leaders of America).

She is the school's Family and Consumer Science Teacher, although that title doesn't do justice to the amount of subjects she expounds upon everyday.

"I teach money matters, parenting, person relationships, living on your own, introduction to foods, creative foods, family foods... and that's it," Myer said with a laugh.

Her typical school day begins with her arrival on campus around 7 a.m. This can make for extremely long days when the hospitality room must be run. On those days, she usually doesn't return home until 10 p.m. She usually leaves campus around 9 p.m. and heads over to the grocery store to shop for the next day's meals.

"I go to Wal-Mart, put it all in my car, immediately drive over to Price Chopper, put it all in my car," Myer said. "There are certain things that you go, 'OK, I like that at that store.' I don't know. I'm weird. You know, the cart is full, so you have to quit!"

Myer also orders a portion of her food from the service through the school's cafeteria.

Although she doesn't spend much time at home when tournaments are running, she still can sneak time in for her family.

"My husband (Mel) has been here every night for dinner," Myer said. "If he didn't come by and hang out for an hour or so, we wouldn't talk."

Myer also gets help from her sister, who helps her every Saturday during tournament play.

On school days, Myer tries to have everything ready to go by 3 p.m. She wants to be prepared for the teachers that want to eat. Before this time she will have picked the meal, shopped for the groceries, filled the coolers with soda and water, plugged in the coffee, organized all the utensils needed to serve and cooked a meal large enough for more than 100 people.

All of which leads up to the only part of the job that she really abhors.

"Dishes," she says. "My hands are just so dried out."

While Keeler has never given Myer a budget to limit spending, she stays extremely conservative. She calculated that the cost per fed visitor is just more than $1. She also doesn't like to plan meals out several days in advance, because she will parlay Friday's leftovers into a different meal on Saturday whenever she can (taco meat into sloppy joes, for instance).

Basehor-Linwood High School is not unique in deploying a hospitality room. Most schools put one on for larger athletic events. BLHS's athletic director, for one, believes it is the best hospitality room that he has seen.

"I would compare hers to anyone's," Keeler said. "We get a lot of compliments on the hospitality room that Mary Myer puts on. When we first started up, I kind of gave her some ideas and she went with it."

Myer's favorite aspect of the job is the interaction with visitors.

"I would say talking to people," said Myer, when asked what she enjoyed the most. "Like the Fort Scott bus driver, he's here every year, and I talked to him, and then my niece went to school in Fort Scott, and he just lived like three or four houses down. So it's a small world."

Myer has endeared herself to many for her work.

"She does deserve teacher of the year award," Dave, a janitor, said. "It don't mean a thing, but that is how I feel about it."

Myer, for her part, enjoys working behind the scenes and each year Keeler is confident that the school has the right person for the job in place.

"It is a major responsibility," Keeler said. "She does an outstanding job with it. She works very hard. It is a lot of planning out. It makes it easier for me, because I don't have to worry about it. I know that the people that come here are taken care of; they are in good hands."

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