Texas Invitational gears up for big comeback

Kirk Lewis probably can’t imagine going 720 days without a cup of coffee, washing the car, or cutting the grass.

And until the pandemic hit, he couldn’t imagine the Pasadena-Deer Park area going so many days without participating in a McDonald’s Texas Invitational tournament.

But we’ve got about 685 days to do just that, and the president of the massive basketball tournament can’t wait to see arguably the biggest high school sports show in the area on the last comeback.

For three days starting on the morning of November 18, the tournament will draw 80 teams and crowds of their fans, injecting welcome dollars into the local economy through hotels and other businesses. .

With all of the state’s high school tournaments canceled last season due to the pandemic, the Texas Invitational returns with the blessing of the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which has lifted all restrictions on basketball tournaments. of high schools this coming season.

Lewis said his main concern about hosting the event after a year off was, “No. 1, whether the teams would find another place to go; n ° 2, if the sponsors were always ready to give; and # 3, if we could find the volunteers always eager to work.

“Almost all of these fears have been allayed,” Lewis said following the penultimate steering committee meeting recently.

A meeting this week will finalize the rankings and organize the schedules of the 10 sites that will host the games. .

Already, $ 118,750 has been paid by sponsors, with nearly $ 200,000 pledged. To be the title holder of the tournament, McDonald’s restaurants have pledged $ 25,000, while the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce plans to donate $ 10,000.

With 40 pledges, the $ 750 Bronze level had the longest list of sponsors, ranging from families to bakeries, just before the October 1 deadline.

The other sponsorship levels were Silver at $ 1,500 and Gold at $ 2,500.

With the money raised being shared between the Pasadena and Deer Park educational foundations, Deer Park’s list of sponsors is quite long. Thirty-three companies were on the list of pledges for a total of $ 45,250 just before the deadline.

“We’re not very far from our earnings in 2019,” Lewis said. “So we’re in good shape with the sponsorships, and all but one of the teams we asked to come back to are coming back and we’ve added eight or 10 teams to our waiting list.”

With half a dozen hotels ready to welcome outsiders who will be here to cheer on teams from places such as Grapevine, Lewisville, Dallas, San Antonio and Corpus Christi, the tournament’s familiar slogan “The Road to the state begins here ”has not been forgotten.

The Cypress Creek Girls 2019-2020 lived up to this tagline when they not only won the Texas Invitational Division I Gold Title, but also took home the 6A State Crown. The girls were lucky because the following weekend the boys’ state championship tournament was canceled.

Dickinson, a tournament participant two years ago, losing a first round match in the Division I Gold category, had landed a state championship spot for the first time in 65 years just to receive the heartbreaking news that the state tournament had become one of the first victims of the growing pandemic.

Unfortunately, there has been one casualty this year linked to the pandemic.

“We had to give up the player / coach dinner at IT’Z Pizza. Under their COVID restrictions this year, they just couldn’t do it, and we don’t have another place big enough for that, ”Lewis said. “It’s the only big thing we’ve lost. We wanted to keep it simple this year because we didn’t want to stretch out because we didn’t know what the answer would be.

In the coming days, signage to promote the tournament will go up.

“That last piece – getting the spectators into the seats – we’re going to push a little harder this year because they’ve had a year to forget,” Lewis said. “Everything seems to be back on track again to have another great tournament and a great experience for the players who come. So, we are excited.

For more information on the upcoming tournament, visit texasinvitational.com.

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