Marshfield athletic director Greg Mulkey has been a part of the Class 3A Tournament Committee since the group started working to bring the tournament back to the Bay Area and is a longtime supporter of sports on the South Coast.
Q: What is your background as an athlete?
A: I am a graduate from Coquille High School. I participated in football, basketball and golf all four years of high school. I attended Oregon State University and participated in football for four years and golf for two.
Q: From your perspective as an athlete, coach and athletic director, why is sports important for high school students?
A: Athletics, as well as any other extra-curricular activity in high school, are necessary for the growth of our students. Athletics is one of the only opportunities in school today where student-athletes learn the skills of discipline, work ethic, being a positive team member, dealing with constructive criticism, and experiencing the high and lows just like we do in life. The culture of a school can be influenced either in a positive or negative way depending on athletics and how our coaches and athletes represent themselves, their team, the school and the community. I believe it is a privilege for athletes to put on a uniform when they are not just representing themselves but many others. It is an excellent opportunity for coaches to teach the importance of being a positive influence for those to follow.
Q: The tournament committee has made a big push to keep the tournament in the Bay Area. Why is it so important to keep it here?
A: When our committee originally pursued hosting the 3A tournament in the Bay Area, our number one focus was to bring people to our community knowing it would boost our economy. Both the North Bend and Coos Bay businesses and community members have been supporting our two schools for years, this was an opportunity for us to give back for their support. Also, we were determined to create an atmosphere for the student-athletes, coaches and fans that was as good, or better, than any tournament across the state of Oregon. We are proud of the Bay Area and the tournament was an opportunity not only to boost the economy, but bring people to our beautiful Bay Area.
Q: This tournament has had a reputation as being a great event for visiting teams. What makes it so special for the teams?
A: We do things that most do not.
1) Every team has a meal sponsor for either a lunch or dinner during their stay in the Bay Area. These are individuals from the community and local restaurants who help sponsor the meals.
2) Each team has a greeter or greeters. These individual(s) meet the teams prior to each of their games, make sure their locker room is available, sit behind the bench and help if needed, call restaurants and set up reservations for meals and even take their uniforms and bring them back clean and ready for the next day.
3) Our booster clubs run a wonderful concessions, but go above and beyond with offering steak and/or hamburger dinners throughout the tournament.
4) Michelle Martin does an outstanding job preparing the hospitality room for the coaches and staff. She gets most of the product donated from local businesses and community members.
5) Our halftime entertainment involves several individual students and fans throughout the tournament. We try to get all ages involved from the tiny kids to adults. It’s lots of FUN for all.
6) Maybe the best of all, is the teams from the past that we honor at halftime of the championship games. When you see the emotion and appreciation from these individuals for the short time of going down memory lane, it is all worth it.
Q: Marshfield and North Bend have worked to host the tournament together since it came back to the Bay Area. Why is it important that the schools work together?
A: This was an excellent opportunity for the two schools to come together and do something good for the Bay Area, not Marshfield or North Bend, it was the desire for us to say thank you to all who support our two schools in the Bay Area. When we talk to other schools in the state, we know how lucky we are to live in these two communities. We have two outstanding schools with great people working in both districts. We are fierce opponents when competing in athletics, but friends and colleagues for this event.
Q: How much work goes on behind the scenes, out of the public’s eye?
A: With over 100 volunteers, I think that speaks volumes for the amount of work we put into this event to make sure it is the BEST tournament in the state. There are so many people that I would not even want to attempt to mention names. However, there is one person that I can say is the glue that keeps us all in check. Stacy Farm has been a major contributor to the overall success of the tournament. She makes all the phone calls for the greeters and dinner host and spends hours organizing the teams that we honor at halftime of the championship games. She’s a champion herself for this tournament.
Q: There are 100 or more volunteers in various roles making sure the tournament runs smoothly each year. How important are all the volunteers?
A: There is no way we could provide the tournament that we do without the volunteers. It would be easy to run the tournament and be very generic with using just the necessary people, but that isn’t what we want and moreso expect. It is the volunteers from our fire departments putting up signs, greeters, dinner hosts, timers, announcers, concessions, security and much more that is the heart of this tournament. When I receive the thanks from others across the state, it is the volunteers that deserve the credit. On behalf of the 3A committee, I want to extend my deepest appreciation for our volunteer support!
Q: You have been well-known for providing quirky and fun halftime activities for the students of the schools involved. Why do you put so much effort into the halftimes?
A: I was so fortunate to have had a father and mother who took me to games and state tournaments from the time I could remember. I spent years going to McArthur Court in Eugene to the state tournaments with my dad. Because of that experience, I wanted to be there myself, playing in a state basketball tournament. For me and my teammates, fortunately we got to experience playing in McArthur Court as high school athletes. With that experience, I realize that the tournament is not just about the players, it is special to so many others. I recall being in Pirate Palace in 1977 as a freshman in high school rooting for the lady Red Devils who we will honor at this year’s tournament. I want everyone who comes to our tournament to go away with the best experience possible. The halftime activities are one way I can give back for the wonderful experience I have enjoyed for many years.
Q: The Marshfield Booster Club has an active role in the tournament running the concession stand. How does this involvement end up benefitting Marshfield through the Booster Club?
A: Both the Marshfield and North Bend schools are blessed to have wonderful booster clubs. For Marshfield, under direction of Steve Schneiderman, our booster president, and our Marshfield Booster Board, they do a superb job throughout the year and especially for this tournament. We are fortunate that the OSAA allows all proceeds from the concessions to stay with our booster club from this tournament. In return, these funds stay with our athletes and activity programs.
Q: Why should local residents come out to watch the games during the tournament?
A: We are determined to do whatever it takes to keep the tournament in the Bay Area. With the support of the community participating in the games, this only helps the overall ticket sales which in return helps the OSAA Executive Board when it comes time to renewing the contract for another year. There’s nothing better than watching high school athletics. Young student-athletes representing their community and school working hard and, best of all, learning qualities that they will use for life. I encourage our local community members to help us keep the tournament in the Bay Area by coming and enjoying the tournament themselves.