More than 600 high school athletes connected with the 184th Intelligence Wing during the Greater Wichita Athletic League vs. Ark Valley/Chisholm Trail League Basketball Challenge. The tournament was held at the Wichita State University’s Charles Koch Arena, Jan. 12-14.
Forty-eight Air National Guardsmen assigned to the 184th IW volunteered to help with the event.
“Volunteers helped stuff 600 goodie bags with different promotional items,” said Maj. Kimberly Rhoden, director of operations, 184th Force Support Squadron. “Each team host picked up goodie bags and gave each student athlete and managers the free bag with Kansas Air National Guard items.”
Roc Jayhawk, the unit’s mascot, stole the show on many occasions. Volunteers costumed up and interacted with the crowd during timeouts and halftime. They also threw out T-shirts and rallied team spirit.
Guardsmen also served as team hosts who, before tip-off, greeted the players and coaches and showed them to their locker rooms.
“A few team hosts were so involved in their assigned team that they participated in pre, half and post-game coach talks in the locker rooms,” said Rhoden. “It was an important opportunity for area students to be up close and personal with 184th Intelligence Wing personnel so we can show them that military personnel are people just like them: people who can be funny, serious, warm and people who care about teamwork. If they see and experience it, we hope they will cross over from their basketball team to be a part of the 184th Intelligence Wing team.”
That’s where the 184th Recruiting Office came into play. The entire recruiting staff was on-hand during the whole event to give out informational and promotional items. They also got to know audience members during the games. At halftime, they hosted free-throw competitions with school-aged audience members.
“It was a fun way to build relationships with area high school students and a great opportunity for our recruiting team to interact with possible recruits, “said Rhoden.