INDIANAPOLIS — It’s the moment Central Indiana has been waiting for, the tip-off to the first-four marking the official start of March Madness.
This is the first time the entire tournament will be played in Central Indiana and that took a lot of planning and manpower. But it’s the hospitable Hoosiers who have stepped as volunteers to create a fun and enjoyable environment for everyone involved.
“We always want to extend Hoosier hospitality that’s our signature,” said Indiana Sports Corporation, President Ryan Vaughn.
And the men and women who are part of the Indiana Sports Corporations volunteer program are the face of it. They are responsible for rolling out the red carpet for the 68 teams serving as guests in our city.
“Yeah, volunteers are essential to our success in every major event that we host and that’s certainly true when we’re hosting something of this scale right,” said Vaughn.
In just 72 hours nearly 5,000 volunteer shifts were filled. Vaughn says the volunteers are used in a different capacity this year since there’s no fan fest, tip-off tailgate or other fun events surrounding March Madness.
“We’ve got volunteers, for example, assisting with laundry, or cleaning courts, or bus transportation,” said Vaughn.
A service available to teams 24-7, fulfilling their needs and also acting as their hype men and women. In recent days, many teams have made requests for different games to keep them occupied and the most interesting item ordered was a ukulele.
The NCAA commends Indiana Sports Corporation for their hard work when it comes to the operations and logistics. But they are also taking note of the creativity.
“Notes written from volunteers to teams, students-athletes and coaches welcoming them to Indianapolis and the Hoosier state. There’s been signs that have been placed on lawns leading up to the competition venues, to you know kind of point out for the buses the welcoming nature of the Hoosier state,” said NCAA, Senior VP of Basketball, Dan Gavitt.
Adding a human element for players who have been without their families and fans for nearly a year due to COVID-19.
“The athlete experience is always important to us, but it has certainly been elevated in just terms of the times of the pandemic. Where we know many of these athletes have been isolated, competing under very difficult conditions,” said Vaughn.