USD students organize SD High School Football Championship weekend

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KSFY) - Students in an upper level sport management course at the University of South Dakota have spent the last seven weeks planning and organizing the South Dakota High School State Football Championships in Vermillion this weekend.

The weekend was previously organized by volunteers from the community, but for the second year in a row, students are chairing the event.

Thirty-two students in Dr. Robin Ammon's course have been planning every last detail to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.

"They're contacting the volunteers, they're making sure the ushers are trained, they're making sure people that are scanning the tickets know how to do it," Ammon said. "So literally, they're doing everything."

Two of the student chairs, Taylor Staab, a senior sport marketing and media major, and Corey Price, a senior sport management major, said they -- and all of their classmates -- have sacrificed a lot of good times and nights out with friends stressing over every little detail for the last two months.

"You have to focus on all of the small details," Staab said. "If something slips by you that could be make or break and so it's something we've learned over the past seven weeks -- double check, triple check, quadruple check everything."

Price described meetings with everyone, from stakeholders in the event, to getting all the committees together.

"It's just nonstop meetings and scheduling them against each other," Price said.

"Everyone's like, 'Let's go out, let's go get dinner,'" Staab said. "Not yet."

But the sacrifice is a chance for these students to prove their hard work in the classroom translates to real world skills.

"You just have that, 'I know what to do, just send me in the right direction and you can trust me to finish it,'" Staab said.

Teams from all across the state, their families, friends and fans will travel to the DakotaDome, and likely won't know there's a more than 100-page event manual the students have put together, to make everything run smoothly -- and they'll have to turn it in to be graded.

"It's not a mega event, like the World Series or a huge concert, [but] it's still large," Ammon said. "So you're gonna have all this little teeny tiny details and you can't forget the details."

Ammon said the students run the entire weekend on a zero-dollar budget -- an added challenge. Any expenses have to be covered by sponsors.

With thousands of out of town visitors in Vermillion, this upcoming weekend has a huge impact on the entire city.

"Being able to have Vermillion on everybody's minds over that weekend is really, really a great thing for us," Nate Welch, executive director for the Vermillion Chamber and Development Company said. "They're buying some gas, they're shopping, they're checking out Vermillion, they're having a really good time. We love that part about it."

And the end goal ...

"We want people to show up and have a good time," Price said. 'We're representing not only our class, but the school and Vermillion and really any team that's showing up, we want them to have a great time as well."

The championship weekend kicks off Thursday, Nov. 9 and runs through Saturday. There are seven games slated over the three-day weekend.