The littlest guys on the court during Classic in the Country XV may have been the busiest guys at this national gem for girls high school basketball.
While teams come and go throughout the three-day event that took place Jan. 13-15 at Hiland High School’s Perry Reese Community Center, and referees all take their respective turns at officiating the games, and countless volunteers take their turns at the concession stand or in ushering teams and officials, Hiland seventh-graders Jace Clark and Reese Mullet are the iron men of CitC.
The two volunteers wield their wet mops and take to the floor during time-outs and end of quarters, making sure all of the dust and debris is removed from the Reese Center hardwood in and around the lanes.
The two young men are stationed along the baselines throughout the entire 20-game, three-day event, always on call to do their duty when the moment calls for it. Whether it is a clash of the titans in the paint that sends bodies sprawling and the two have to dispatch all of the sweat on the floor, or whether they are doing their ordinary duties between time-outs, the floor cleaning crew is on the job every day, all day during CitC.
“It’s actually a lot of fun,” said Mullet, who is now a seasoned veteran of three years on the crew. “I started doing this because they asked me. I started doing it during the boys varsity games, and then they asked me to do it at the Classic, so I figured why not.”
Mullet, who doesn’t even play basketball, asked his buddy Clark to join him last year. Clark does play basketball for the seventh-grade Hawks, and he said being down on the floor game after game is a tremendous learning opportunity to better understand the game of basketball.
“It does get tiring at times because we do have to be here the whole time, but it is fun, and it gives me a chance to see the game and learn from it,” Clark said. “I like to watch the moves and how they play and watch different situations.”
The fact that the two are at the Reese Center from start to finish is a demanding gig. They have to be there for every moment of every game, although part of the perk of their volunteer job is that they get all the free food they want between games.
“You can’t complain about the seats on the floor,” Mullet said. “We are right on top of the action.”
Mullet went on to note that they are given freedom to clean and sweep however they see fit. While they do a great job, they do have some fun. Throughout the weekend they get requests to go out and sweep circles around one of the officials during a time-out. That always draws plenty of laughs, even from the officials when they realize what is going on.
“Coaches like to get on refs they know can take it, so they ask me to circle them,” Mullet said. “So I just go with it. It’s fun.”
“It’s a way we can volunteer for something this big and be a part of it,” Clark said of volunteering to sweep. “I am glad I got involved.”