DES MOINES, Iowa -- Monday marks the start of the six-day Iowa Girls State Basketball Tournament held at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines and this year is the 99th anniversary of the tournament.
If you look back at old tournament pictures you can tell a lot has changed, the hair, the uniforms, even the way the sport is played. Up until 1993 girls basketball was played six-on-six. Associate Director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Lisa Brinkmeyer was on the last team to play six-on-six in the 1993 state tournament.
“It was the end of an era for a sport that meant so much to so many people. We had ladies in their 90s come up to us and shook our hands and thanked us and we didn’t have any idea who they were and in retrospect we should have been thanking them because they laid the foundation for us to be there and have those opportunities to play,” Brinkmeyer said.
The venue may have moved from “The Barn” Veteran’s Auditorium to Wells Fargo Arena but Brinkmeyer said the heart that goes into the game has never changed.
”I call it the state tournament where everybody cries, all of our state tournament, moms cry, dads cry, girls cry, coaches cry, I cry, it’s just moving. You cry if you win, you cry if you lose because that is how much you have wrapped up into it and how important it is, and how much heart is involved in the game,” Brinkmeyer said.
The tournament has five classes, eight qualifiers in each class so 40 total schools will be participating this week.
The Associate Director of the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union Gary Ross said for many girls, the tournament is not about winning a trophy.
“Many of these girls 20 years from now may not remember the score or anything like that but they are going to remember the experiences they had with their teammates,” Ross said. “This is something that will be a lifetime memory, this is something you’re going to remember about not necessarily the score but the experience of your friends and just being together and doing those fun little things.”
Another change to the state basketball tournament this year is metal detectors. Wells Fargo Arena will require visitors to walk through metal detectors on their way into the tournament. Metal detectors have been in place since September of last year but have only been used for non-high school related sporting events. Visitors will now have to put their phones, keys and wallets in a bowl before walking through the metal detectors. The Wells Fargo General Manager said the detectors will be used at all high school events in the future.
The Iowa High School Girls State Basketball Tournament starts Monday the 26th and ends Saturday the 3rd, you can keep track of scores here.