The start of something big

ILSAA state tourney coming to Fort Wayne. I'm very pleased to announce that Concordia Lutheran High School will host the 2014 Indiana Lutheran Schools Athletic Association (ILSAA) State Basketball Tournament on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, February 28 through March 2. This will be the first time the tourney has been held in northeast Indiana; previous tournaments have been held at various sites in the Indianapolis area. It's anticipated that a total of 20 to 24 boys and girls squads will compete in the tourney for students in grades six through eight. The teams will represent four regions of the state: Northeast, Northwest, South, and Indianapolis. The top boys and girls teams will be invited to the annual Lutheran National Tournament at Valparaiso in March. Organizers of this first ILSAA state tourney in northeast Indiana envision the start of something big. "We hope to make this more than a basketball tourney," says Tim Falkenstern, director of the tourney. "We want to make this a real event, an event that people will remember and look forward to attending right here in our area every year. We think northeast Indiana is an ideal permanent home for this event." A guest speaker will address the players and families during a special program at Concordia High School after Saturday's final games are played. After the program, the teams will be recognized during a Fort Wayne Mad Ants game at nearby Memorial Coliseum. Discounted tickets to the Mad Ants game will be available during the ILSAA tourney. The tournament will make use of both of Concordia High School's two gymnasiums, as well as the gym at nearby Holy Cross Lutheran School, keeping the competition in one area of the city. "In addition to having the competition in one area, there are plenty of nearby restaurants and hotel accommodations for visitors from outside of our area," Tim says. "We've even been in contact with the Fort Wayne Visitors Bureau to develop an information packet that promotes local businesses and shows out-of-towners what Fort Wayne has to offer. We think this event will have a positive economic impact. "We're pretty excited about hosting this tournament," Tim adds. "A lot people are working hard to make it a success." I think the time for this tourney to come to northeast Indiana was overdue. Our Lutheran schools in northeast Indiana have always been very well-represented when this tournament was held in Indianapolis. So we thought, why not hold it here? We have the highest concentration of Lutheran schools in the state right here, and we think we have the resources to make this event a success every year. We're looking forward to having all these teams and families here to socialize and to worship together. This is a great opportunity for our Lutheran schools to shine. In addition to making the ILSAA basketball tourney a Fort Wayne fixture, Tim envisions the growth of the ILSAA, which is still a relatively young organization. Tim is also president of Fort Wayne's Lutheran School Athletic Association, a very active organization that oversees competition in several sports. "We've looked at what's been done in other states and at the Indiana High School Athletic Association, of course," Tim says. "We'd eventually like to expand the ILSAA into other sports, such as volleyball and soccer. We started out with basketball. After all, Indiana is a basketball state. We envision having an organization that oversees a variety of interscholastic sports for Lutheran schools around the state."To learn more about the Indiana Lutheran School Athletic Association, go to www.ilsaa.org. If you'd like to volunteer during the upcoming state tournament, click on "Contact" and submit your information.