After spending the majority of two days at the West Virginia State High School Softball Tournament on Wednesday and Thursday, it was easy to see why the event is conducted at the City of Vienna's Jackson Park complex.
With 12 teams from across the state and their fans spending two long days at the same facility, one would expect a few problems.
But this tournament went off without a single major glitch.
Tournament director Norm Harris and assistant director Danny Tennant were detail-oriented and left nothing to chance.
All three fields -one for each class -were manned by their own announcer, scorekeeper and field director. The games started on time. As soon as they ended, there was a grounds crew there to get the field ready for the next game.
The concessions were good and the prices more than reasonable. Many cities would take advantage of having a captive audience and raise their prices. Not Vienna. Fans who attended the state tournament paid the same prices as those attending Vienna Recreation activities.
If you were an umpire, coach, tournament official, volunteer helper, and yes, even a member of the media, you were treated to a hospitality room that is second to none when it comes to serving good, hot meals. Compare that to trying to get anything more than a pretzel when covering the state high school basketball tournament in Charleston or a bottle of water at the state track meet and it's easy to see why Vienna is such a popular choice to conduct both the WVIAC and state high school softball tournaments.
Plus, the local area has an ample supply of solid hotels, an abundance of restaurant options and plenty of shopping opportunities.
While other communities would love to conduct the tournament, they are going to have to prove they can offer more than Vienna and that -given the entire package Vienna offers -is going to be extremely difficult.
The softball tournament is a highlight of the sports year in the Mid-Ohio Valley, since it is the only state championship we get to conduct.
It is our one opportunity to show how much pride we take in our sports programs.
This year's tournament was particularly enjoyable as we had a local representative in each of the three classes. St. Marys finished third in Class A while both Ritchie County and Parkersburg South finished as the runners-up in their respective classes. All three schools boasted a solid contingent of fans.
We were blessed with Goldilocks weather -not too hot, not too cold, just right -during both days of the tournament.
Softball is the one sport where the play seems to get better with each passing year.
It is growing in popularity and the quality of play has grown by leaps and bounds. When you work back-to-back 15-hour days and enjoy every minute of it, you know you are covering a great event.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org