It was a bit muggy in Musgrove Fieldhouse on Monday, as the Gazette All-Stars took warm-up shots before practice.
Coach Julie Schroeder, who will grace the sideline for likely the last time today in the SVM All-Star classic, stood huddled with a collection of ringers she brought in to scrimmage.
Sterling Golden Warrior fans will know the names. Devon Carbaugh. Nicole Renner. Amber Cox. Ashli King.
After leaving the practice, fellow SVM staffer Brian Weidman thought that collection would give this year's combined All-Star squads a pretty good run.
He's probably right. After all, we learned in 2007 not to bet against any team with Carbaugh playing in the middle. It also made me wonder if, at some point, we should line up the best players of years past to play against the best graduating seniors. That could be interesting.
The trip to practice was another reminder of the trip through time we've been taking the last month, as we have celebrated 30 years of the SVM All-Star Classic.
While we discussed the teams that won, and those players that did well, the point of the whole exercise was to connect the players that started in 1984 and all those since with those that'll take the floor tonight.
As if the world hadn't done that already. It's fun to think about guys like Jim Preston, Brad Bickett and Matt Messer as players, since we've all grown so used to them as coaches.
It was interesting to see the different gimmicks that would pop up here and there to draw more interest to the game, and make it more fun for those playing and attending.
It started with adding a 3-point contest and a dunk contest. One year, there was a dance team. Last year, there was a band and a cheerleading squad.
Some years, we juggled the rosters to get different combinations and more competitive games.
The result being that every Classic has been, well, classic for its own reasons.
This year is already unique, as it will be the first time the game won't been played in a venue with a Dixon mailing address.
For a long time, every game was played at Lancaster Gym at DHS. When the Telegraph and Gazette merged in the late 1990s, the game changed venues to Sauk Valley Community College.
With some repairs being made at Sauk, the game has a temporary new home at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
Like so many gyms, Musgrove has its own feel and memories. It will be nice to see the All-Star Classic join with those for a night. Maybe some year we'll have to take the game across the river to Tabor Gym in Rock Falls.
So, what should you expect tonight? Fun is our only expectation. The other thing is that it seems likely whichever team wins the girls game, it is likely that the boys team representing that market will also win. That has happened all 10 years that we've had two games.
I did have every staff member weigh in with predictions on the coveted MVP award. Well, we didn't make newcomer Patrick Mason make a choice, since he arrived at SVM after the basketball season was over.
Here's our picks for MVPs for the 2014 games:
Patrick Petrosky – Mary Alice Oswalt (Newman) and Dalton Shaner (Eastland)
Ty Reynolds – Kiarra Harris (Sterling) and Jessie McKinley Jr. (Oregon)
Brian Weidman – Brooke Bailey (Dixon) and Skylar Paulson (Eastland)
Dan Woessner – Kaitlyn Bauer (Sterling) and John Payan (Newman)
Now, don't be surprised if none of us gets those right. See you tonight at Musgrove.