Volleyball serves ace at Advantage Butte talks

Volleyball serves ace at Advantage Butte talks

By Bruce Sayler

Volleyball spiked the conversational punch during Tuesday’s October meeting of Advantage Butte at the Butte Plaza Inn.

The busy, well-attended meeting had much business to conduct and many topics to consider as president Rody Holman, of PayneWest Insurance, presided. Some discussion around volleyball, however, grabbed the attentions fullest.

It started when John Thatcher, representing the Maroon Activities Center, asked for help from the group in solving a problem. He said Paul Bills, the activities director at Ennis High School, had  contacted him to urge the MAC enter a bid as host site for the 2017 Western C Divisional volleyball tournament, set for Nov. 2-4 next year. Thatcher said the arena is already booked as host site for the Western A Divisional tournament, in which Butte Central will be a contending team, the same dates.

So, Thatcher asked if another Butte site might be available then to accommodate the Western C.

Administrators said they would check calendars. Matt Stepan, Montana Tech assistant athletic director, noted that the Oredigger volleyball and basketball teams will all be in season then, so it could be a crowded facility. The Civic Center was suggested. Bill Melvin, the Civic Center manager, was unable to attend the meeting, but it was said at the meeting that it was thought the arena seemed available then, but there would need to be calculations done on how to configure floor space for the tournament, and where to procure a court or courts. No one from Butte HIgh was able to be at the meeting, either, but there could be some logistic problems with holding the tourney in the school’s Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym because of school being in session most of those days, creating parking shortages and congested hallways.

“I’m just afraid that if the tournament goes somewhere else, we might not ever get it back,” Thatcher said. “I think we should do our best to have it here. They really like to come here.”

This year’s District 9-C tournament and Western C Divisional will both be held at MAC — the district tourney Oct. 27-28, and the divisional the following weekend.The divisional had been lost in recent years to Churchill’s Manhattan Christian High School Gym. A realignment in Class C separated Butte-area schools Sheridan, Twin Bridges, Lima, Ennis and Harrison from the 10/11-C and old 9-C group and joined them with former 13-C members Philipsburg and Drummond. The grouping placed Butte as the central location among league members.

“Since they reorganized that district, we’re the 50-yard line,” Don Peoples Jr., of Butte Central Catholic Schools, said.

Peoples then added he has been frequently contacted by the state Amateur Athletic Union seeking venues for youth volleyball tournaments. He said the organization is looking for spaces that hold three or four courts.

When the Civic Center played host to Montana Tech’s Big Sky Challenge college women’s volleyball tournament in August, sports courts, portable volleyball playing mats, were borrowed from the Montana High School Association to set three courts on the arena floor. Advantage Butte members questioned whether such could be looked into again.

“Montana Tech would be the best venue,” Ron Davis, of Butte Broadcasting, said, “but, using bleachers (set up like dividing walls between courts) in the Civic Center could created a pretty neat arena setting for the kids, too. And, they’d experience playing on the surfaces played on at state tournaments.”

The MHSA has the sport courts to use for the combined state Class AA, A, B and C volleyball tournaments every year at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse on the Montana State University campus. They allow for the facility to hold four matches at the same time.

Another suggestion was forwarded for the group to investigate the feasibility of buying similar courts for use in Butte, if venues are in such demand. Thatcher and Davis said they would check into the matter. Members also noted that, depending on expense, partnerships with schools, sponsors, or government might be considered toward purchase.

“They’d make a real case for keeping that divisional,” Peoples said.

Holman encouraged pursuit of the idea.

“We need to circle our wagons on that and get smarter on costs and venues,” he said.

Thatcher said the Western C will meet on bids in January, so action needs to be taken well before then on the matter.

Advantage Butte treasurer Brad Spear, of Anderson Zurmuehlen and Co., said almost $42,000 exists in the checking account, of which $34,800 is committed for events the group is underwriting this school year.

Holman talked about plans for Advantage Butte to again request a Butte Silver Bow City-County Economic Development grant to use in gaining more events for Butte. Advantage Butte requested $2,500 last year and received almost $1,400, Holman said.

“We had an economic impact of almost a half a million dollars for the community last year,” he said.

Holman said request will be submitted this fall, but a dollar amount for what to request on not yet been firmed. He said Advantage Butte can historically provide results with how the money is has received in the past has benefitted economic development in the community.

“Expansion and retention are elements of economic development and I think we have a chance to make a significant impact,” he said.

Davis, a past president of Advantage Butte, agreed.

“Over $33 million in economic development since the inception of Advantage Butte in 2004,” Davis said. “And, that could be higher.”

The formula calls for figuring $100 per athlete in money spent daily in support during a state track meet, while the state allows for claiming $200 per, Davis said.

“Those numbers ($33 million) are from the state office of tourism,” Holman said. “We could easily inflate those.”

Holman called for a motion to allow him to submit a grant request and delegate at-large Hoot Gibson did, seconded by Stepan. It carried.

Two other proposals were also acted upon.

Butte Central activities director Chad Petersen had entered a request for funding help with conduction of the Western A Divisional high school cross country meet held last Saturday on the Fairmont Hot Springs golf course. The request was for $2,000 for the renting of timing equipment and portable toilets. Part of the money was also for providing lunch to officials and coaches. Petersen put in the request shortly before the meet, so the Advantage Butte Executive Board met and approved. Holman said the board took the action because “of the time crunch” rather than presenting the request first to the membership body. He then asked for a motion to OK the approval. Maria Pochervina, of the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce, made the motion, George Johnson, of the Butte Quality Inn, seconded and the motion carried.

The Butte Family YMCA also asked for $2,000 toward putting on The Mining City Classic swim meet Nov. 4-6. Secretary Dorea Wilmoth, of Butte Comfort Inn/Town Pump, read the request from YMCA director Philip Borup, who was not at the meeting. Discussion followed that the request needed to go to the Executive Committee first for review. Due to the meet set to be held before Advantage Butte’s next meeting, it was proposed the Executive Committee be permitted to review the request and decide itself whether to approve. The motion was made by Stepan, seconded by Thatcher and passed by the general attendance.

Davis added that “last-minute requests are tough. We used to (enforce) that we have 60 to 90 days in advance required for making a monetary request. I suggest we return to that.”

“If we are given time to prepare, and run it through proper channels, it would be better,” Holman said.

Petersen said the divisional cross country meet ran more than 200 contestants and that it “went very well.” He said Butte Central played host to its Blocktoberfest volleyball toiurnament the same day at the MAC. He updated that Maroon golfers Tyge Johnson and Tricia Joyce both earned Class A All-State honors, that the football team is close to clinching a spot in this year’s state Class A playoffs and that the volleyball team is also nearing postseason with the Western A Divisional slatd for Nov. 3-5 in Columbia Falls. The state cross country meet will be held Saturday in Kalispell.

Stepan, who also represents the Butte Wrestling Club, said amateur wrestling registration will begin in mid-December with practices to start in January. He said some club members have already registered so that they can compete in early season tournaments, which begin soon. Stepan said the club’s Cyclops invitational tournament will be held in February and the McCarthy/Smith Invitational is scheduled for April, both in the Civic Center.

Speaking as Montana Tech’s rep, Stepan said the volleyball team has been on the upswing in recent matches (and now ranked No. 23 in the NAIA poll) and that the Big Sky Challenge tournament was such a competitive and gate success that teams from around the country are inquiring about entering it in coming years. He noted the Oredigger football team holds first place in the Frontier Conference and is No. 8 in the NAIA poll. He said the team needs to keep winning to advance to the playoffs and, possibly, earn a home role in at least one round, but said moving up in the poll will be especially difficult.

“Because, none of the teams ahead of them play each other, nor are they in a conference as difficult as ours,” he said.

Stepan also reminded that the Oredigger men’s and women’s basketball teams open their seasons Saturday with games against Yellowstone Christian of Billings. He said the Mining City Little Guy Football Jamboree was held this week under the lights at Bob Green Field on the Montana Tech campus. He finished with saying renovations to the Montana Tech pool in the HPER Complex are moving along well with plans to try it out with water in March.

Gina Evans, of the Butte 100 mountain bike spectacular, said plans are being finalized to bring back the kids’ race next year and that there is a proposal to move the Sorini 25 event course for better accessibility. Both the kids’ race and the Sorini 25 are events held in conjunction with the major Butte 100 race. Evans also said the Neon Army volunteer group for the Butte 100 will be receiving a prestigious award she cannot yet disclose.

“Everybody’s happy with the Butte 100,” Evans said.

Stephanie Sorini, owner of the Butte 100 enterprise, lauded Evans’ dedication to the event.

“The race couldn’t happen without her,” Sorini said, adding that the Butte 100 is continuing to grow and showing to have a big economic impact on the community.

“People from all over the world are coming to see our backyard,” she said.

The Sorini 25 is named for Stephanie Sorini’s late husband, Dr. Pete Sorini.

Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce rep Maria Pochervina also reminded that the benefit for recently resigned Chamber director Marko Lucich is to be held Saturday at the MAC. The fundraiser is to help with defraying medical expenses incurred by Lucich and his family as a result of treatment for illness and illness-caused injuries in recent months.

Holman adjourned the meeting and said the next one is scheduled for Nov. 15 at the Butte Plaza Inn.

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