March Madness takes on a different meaning for Mikki Shafer, membership coordinator for the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce.
As she organizes the annual Whoopers and Hoopers tournament each year, March is a flurry of activity as final preparations are made for the weekend basketball tournament. Hundreds of players, family and friends come to Hastings for the three-day event. Between 100-140 basketball teams participate each year.
March is the mad dash at the end, but Shafer, 38, starts preparations a few months before. About a week before Thanksgiving, information about the tournament is sent out to former players.
In December, she starts contacting potential sponsors to raise money for prizes, paid positions needed and other tournament expenses. The first businesses contacted to be sponsors are the restaurants, bars, convenience stores and other places likely to notice and benefit from the influx of players and their families.
But that's just the beginning.