David Adam

How potential disaster was turned into rousing success

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 18, 2018 9:45 am

Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding.

That's the sound my cellphone made Saturday afternoon after I had turned it off for about 45-50 minutes.

In that time, one person and one family made sure the McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic was played on Saturday night.

Quincy University men's basketball coach Ryan Hellenthal first tried to call and text me at 1:04 p.m. A mechanical issue with the air conditioning unit that cools both Quincy University's Pepsi Arena and Heath and Fitness Center led to humid conditions inside Pepsi Arena, making the floor slick and creating safety concerns.

However, at 1 p.m., I was in St. Francis Church, just across the street from Pepsi Arena. I had just sent a text to Senior Writer Matt Schuckman, and the music was starting for the wedding of Kassidy Gengenbacher and Connor Metcalfe. My youngest daughter Jamie elbowed me and said, "Put your phone away."

I agreed to turn the ringer off.

"No. Put it in airplane mode," Jamie barked back in a whisper.

She was right. This was not the time for checking phone messages. Even a buzzing phone would have been inappropriate.

The wedding, of course, was beautiful. Everybody was dressed up and looked great. Kassidy, a noted giggler, couldn't stop laughing on the altar with Connor.

However, for others involved with the Classic, it was a time for chaos.

Hellenthal, Schuckman and McDonald's owner Greg Shierling all were feverishly trying to reach me, the game director. Schuckman remembered I was at the wedding, and he later admitted he gave brief consideration to breaking in on the ceremony to find me.

After Mr. and Mrs. Metcalfe walked down the aisle, it was time to visit with friends in the church. Finally, at about 1:50 p.m., the airplane mode was switched off, and my phone wildly dinged and buzzed like never before.

Turns out most everything had been handled.

Schuckman had consulted with Hellenthal, Shierling and Mike Davis, QU's assistant athletic director for facilities. He reached out to Brad Hoyt, the men's basketball coach and the athletic director at John Wood Community College, to see if the Student Activity Center could be used.

Schuckman, who was supposed to be coordinating the production of Sunday's sports section before coming to the game, put out the fire in about 45 minutes. A tip of the cap to him.

Saturday, however, was just getting heated up for the Hoyt family. They were supposed to have a rare Saturday off. Extremely rare.

Hoyt typically spends most of his Saturdays either A) coaching his basketball team, B) traveling around the Midwest finding players for his basketball team, or C) chasing his own kids around to their various activities.

Surely had a big romantic date night lined up for his wife, Nikki. (Go with me here, Brad.)

The offices and weight room in the Student Activity Center were set to undergo an overhaul this week, and Hoyt had spent the morning moving furniture and desks out of offices and into hallways. No doubt he had a grin on his face when he learned he had to re-do all that work.

With less than three hours to prepare the facility for the game, Hoyt called on JWCC dean of students Cody Baggett, head women's basketball coach Norm Rodriguez and assistant women's basketball coach Chris Duesdieker to set up chairs, sweep floors and pull out bleachers.

Nikki rounded up food for the concession stand. The three Hoyt children -- Sydnie, Jake and Luke -- were employed for the night to sell concessions, as were Grandpa and Grandma -- Dennis and Connie Hoyt.

Had the news of the facility switch not been plastered all over social media, it would have been impossible for people coming to attend the game and figure out the facility was empty just hours earlier.

Thanks to the Hoyt family for letting the McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic ruin a perfectly quiet Saturday afternoon.

In conclusion, Saturday proved that ...

1. I was right months ago (wink, wink) when I told Kassidy, a former Classic participant and most outstanding player for the Illinois girls in the 2013 game, that she should have taken the date of the Classic into consideration when she picked her wedding date.

2. Several good people, many not mentioned here, were willing to help turn a potential disaster into a big success.

3. That airplane mode thing really works.