Mize, who took over as Executive Director following the 1981 Shrine Bowl game, has overseen an event that has grown from a game showcasing the state’s top football talent to an event that involves dozens of Kansas Shriners and community volunteers, and hundreds of Kansas young people, not to mention several thousand Kansas football fans and supporters.
Changes to the game have included the addition of several camps for band members (the Masonic All-State Marching Band), and cheerleaders. This year, a camp for dance teams has been added. Other additions to the Shrine Bowl package of events include a football combine, where high school players can measure their skills, and an all-star Cross Country meet, featuring many of the state’s top runners.
Mize says one major change in the game’s administration has been in communications, an important element when you consider the number of people involved that are scattered across Kansas. “When I started”, he says, “Communications was a major obstacle, because the only way to communicate was by phone or by mail. We didn’t even have fax machines then, and now we do a lot of work by fax and more by e-mail, so communications have vastly improved”, he says.
Mize’s replacement, Drew Gaschler, is already on the job. Gaschler was hired in May of 2011, shortly after graduating from Wichita State University with a masters degree in Sports Management. Mize says the transition has been very smooth. “Drew has one year under his belt. He helped us go through the game last year in Hays, and has taken a big part in preparation for this year’s game in Emporia”, he says.
Gaschler says the change is working well, as he takes over the reins. “I just want to be able to keep the traditions going and keep the money going to the hospitals, and keep the publicity going for the Shriners as well.”
Is there any one game or incident that stands out for Mize during his tenure? Not really, he says. “I can just say generally that all of the experiences have been fun and good and exciting. When we started, we just kind of fumbled along trying to learn this. We built the processes as we needed them. When we find a problem, we try to solve it, not only for the immediate future, but for the long-term so that it becomes automatic in the future and we don’t have to tackle it again.”
Mize says retirement brings some bittersweet feelings with it. “I hate to think I’ll not be going though it again”, he says. “I have a lot of friends, a lot of acquaintances, a lot of relationships. I’m going to regret losing that, but by the same token for 31 years I’ve not had my summers to myself, and that’s going to be nice.”
All Shrine Bowl events are produced and presented to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children [SHC]. SHC is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to the age of 18 are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients' ability to pay. The 39th annual Kansas Shrine Bowl will be played Saturday, July 28th, 2012, in Emporia, Kansas, at Welch Stadium on the Emporia State University campus. Kickoff will be at 7:00 pm. Tickets and additional information are available at www.kansasshrinebowl.com or by calling 800-530-5524.