Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.
The hospitality room is a place to get away from the fans, the kids, to relax a little, and maybe catch up on the latest hirings and firings of coaches across the state. It’s been a haven for bus drivers, tournament workers, retired coaches, game officials, and yes, the media.
I’ve been to some fabulous hospitality rooms over the years, and without exception, they are the result of hard work by volunteers, almost always the wives of coaches, activities directors, and players, with younger coaches having their moms help run the room
One year, the Five Rivers Conference Tournament was held at Ethete, not in the “House that Al Built” as many of us call Alfred Redman Gym, but in the old gym, now demolished at the present location of Wyoming Indian Middle School.
We selected all-conference teams on Saturday morning before the consolation semi-finals were played.
As I sat down with a cup of coffee and joined the other seven coaches, a very nice lady came up to me and asked, “Coach, how would you like your eggs?”
They were taking full breakfast orders and delivering, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and toast for all the coaches. That day was epic.
So too was another Saturday, this time in Lovell a few years later. The games were later that day, we’d already had our all-conference meetings, and my assistant Bret Evans, and I were about to play Cory Sova and the late Phil Juilliard in the third/fourth place game.
The winner didn’t qualify, and neither of us could beat Lovell or Rocky Mountain who were playing for the title if a challenge game happened to occur, so we just decided to enjoy the day.
In the hospitality room, nestled above a far corner of John Winterholler Gym, was an array of homemade delights. The gals went above and beyond that day, but centermost on our menu was the crockpot full of Polish sausages.
We all dug in and ate one of those delights. As we were thinking about going back for another one, the horn sounded in the gym. We looked around the corner and there they were, the Riverside Rebels, the Shoshoni Wranglers, a couple of officials, and the clock and stat keepers all staring up at us. It wasn’t the three-minute warning, the clock read 8:00 and it was time for the tip-off.
We hurried down to the floor, well most of us did. Phil was Cory’s assistant, he arrived early in the second quarter.
“They’re all gone guys,” Phil said to the three of us as he sat down. “I ate three more, and they were great.”
It was just another episode in the adventures of “Phil Julliard, King of the Hospitality Room.”
Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I was busy. There were tournaments in Shoshoni, Pavillion, and Ethete on my beat.
If I carefully look at schedules I’ve learned to make a “Voyager” style trajectory across Fremont County. As you might remember, NASA engineers timed the launch and flight path of the Voyager spacecraft to visit Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. That’s quite the engineering marvel, and my catching Shoshoni on Thursday, Dubois at Shoshoni Friday morning, St. Stephen’s and Wind River’s boys and girls on Friday afternoon, before covering the Chiefs and Lady Chiefs late Saturday morning and early afternoon pale in comparison.
I was able to get photographs of all 10 teams on the County10 website with game stories by 9 p.m. Saturday.
All that travel required a little fuel in the SUV, and the hospitality rooms at those three schools delivered another kind of fuel for the driver.
I always joke with my friend Mistalynn Steffen about the hospitality room she runs in Shoshoni, about high standards, and what the competition at the other schools are offering. To her credit, she takes the job seriously and her hospitality room is a marvel.
Football jamborees, wrestling tournaments, the Wrangler Invitational basketball tournament, and the West 1-A/2-A track meet all bring out the best of her talents.
Last weekend was no exception. I’ve never seen so many crock pots full of fabulous main courses anywhere else, and the desert tray brings out the best of the many volunteers who bring pies, cakes, and cookies. Interestingly enough, many of these same women win prizes at the Fremont County Fair in the open cooking divisions.
Two games between the Saratoga Panthers and the Dubois Rams and Lady Rams, with a quick stop at the hospitality room, provided just enough time to make the St. Stephen’s / Big Piney girls and boys games.
I often wonder how many times I’ve driven the 28 miles up Missouri Valley Road between Campbell’s Corner and Pavillion since I started at 16 years old, but I always enjoy it no matter the season.
The Lady Cougars tangled with Tongue River after the Eagles were finished playing. The gap between the Wind River boys’ and girls’ games gave me just enough time to find the Cougar hospitality room in the back of what was once the school library. Two big pots of chili awaited my arrival, one cold, and the other at a bubbling boil. No problem, a scoop from each, mixed together and the temperature was perfect. Nice work to whomever the cooks were.
Saturday had the Chiefs and Lady Chiefs playing Big Horn. The girls finished the game via the running clock after jumping to a big lead.
Wyoming Indian’s hospitality room was close to my technology office when I worked as the IT Director for the school.
The cuisine was everything I’d come to expect. If you’ve never eaten a meal on the Wind River Reservation, prepared by the locals, it is always exquisite. That’s what the cornbread, chili, and barbecued ribs (yes, ribs!) were when I made my trek to the room with my friend and fellow photographer Carl Cote. Top-notch isn’t enough praise for what the ladies at Ethete had to offer.
At the state tournament, they have a huge room at the Ford Wyoming Center on the north side of the second floor, but I prefer the atmosphere, and the cuisine at Casper College and Kelly Walsh High School where the room is smaller, and the ambiance more intimate.
To everyone involved last weekend, I’ll say thanks for the coaches, drivers, and officials who frequented and enjoyed these three outstanding venues. Job well done.