DECATUR — Although the Decatur Turkey Tournament didn’t get to tip off in 2020 due to COVID-19, the long-time Soy City tradition begins the 2021 edition on Tuesday with a strong financial backing and unusual roster of teams.
“Nobody anticipated planning a public event during a pandemic and things that in the past were an easy automatic check that box and now that box might not be checked the next day,” Turkey Tournament director Mel Roustio said. “I was happy that our corporate and business leaders and sponsors through the years responded beautifully and didn’t miss a beat. They helped us as if nothing had happened. We are grateful for that.”
Caterpillar returns as the tournament’s presenting sponsor for the second time after it took the place of long-time sponsor Team Soy Capital, who ended its sponsorship after merging with First Mid Bank in 2018.
Along with an increase in security at this year’s Turkey Tournament, fans and players will need to be wearing masks while inside Stephen Decatur Middle School.
“Coming off of the unfortunate decisions that we had to make to cancel the tournament last year, we knew that we would have to deal with changing and fluid CDC protocols and we would have to negotiate those hurdles as we went along,” Roustio said.
But COVID-19 is still affecting the tournament. Champaign Central had to pull out of the tournament last week because of positive cases among the players. Bolingbrook will bring its junior varsity team that will serve as a replacement team for Central and they will face MacArthur in the opening round game on Wed. at 7:30 p.m.
The increased tournament security measures had been discussed previously but were not implemented until this year.
“As you look around the nation, I think the time has come to respond to circumstances. I think there have been calls for us to be more proactive,” Roustio said. “I think it begins with wanding everyone that enters the contest to make people feel comfortable and safe. We also have great security there and we think this is an added tool.”
“We try to take the Turkey Tournament to another level in highlighting special people over the years. This year is no different and we will lift up law enforcement,” Roustio said.
Brown and Getz will be recognized Tuesday. On Wednesday, Amber Oberheim, the wife of slain Champaign police officer Chris Oberheim, and her four daughters will be honored. Chris Oberheim’s partner Jeffrey Creel will also be honored.
Also being recognized during the tournament are retired Decatur police officer Doug Allen and Calvin Carson, who began Decatur’s Big Kings basketball program.
The tournament begins Tuesday with opening round games continuing on Wednesday. Championship and consolation semifinals take place on Friday with the championship game tipping off on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
🏀 From the Archives: The annual Turkey Tournament
Future Illini/Springfield Senior is big-name star
Eisenhower's Yansyn Taylor is blocked
Eisenhower's Mike Sain passes off
Mt. Zion's Mark Yelovich goes up and under
Eisenhower's Robert Calmese fights for loose ball
Tim Littrell flips pass over Mike Jeffers
MacArthur vs. Thornton Township
Decatur Turkey Tournament
Lewis Jackson tries to avoid the defense
Maroa-Forsyth's Carmen Hatton dives to save a ball
Sullivan's Jamie Florey posts up an Urbana player
Shae Ingolia takes off down court
Mt. Zion's Jase Bandelow works past Peoria Central's Mike Perkins
Tyrone Carson cheers for the MacArthur basketball team
Eisenhower's Jarod Oldham had 23 points for the Panthers
MacArthur's Kamari Jones attempts a shot
MacArthur's Jaquay Owens tries to get past Thornton's Damarques Turner
MacArthur's Marlin Murphy scoots around Paris' Bryce Ormiston
Mt. Zion's Nick Birkey drives past Brandon Young of Lanphier
Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten