The draft was a fun new component of the game that let us shine a bigger spotlight on our senior all stars and take the game to the next level. For the most part I think the idea of the draft was welcomed with open arms. It was a big change to put into play after having the same selection format for 25 years but the draft brought some new energy and excitement to the showcase, exactly what we had hoped for. Once the plans were in motion all the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. We would still maintain the integrity of the all-star selection committee who in each of the past 25 years would select the rosters for each team, however the only change with the draft is instead of an East and West selection committee there would be one committee selecting essentially the top 4 all-stars at every position to create one pool of all stars to draft from. We would also still include at least 1 player from each of the high schools in El Paso County. This brought an entirely new dynamic to the game. For the first time we would have the potential to have players from the same high school lining up against each other. It also was the first time a player from an Eastside school could play a long side another player from the Westside. Removing the boundary line was in instant boost in competition and truly made this game the best of the best.
Each player selected must have all the requirements met to be eligible for the all-star selection. SAT, ACT scores with a qualifying GPA and must all be submitted by our deadline.
With the draft was also the unveiling of our two new team names. A community ballot was put out and the top vote getters and two new team names were Blue Thunder and Red Storm.
We were lucky enough to have the atrium at YISD headquarters as a venue for the draft. Not knowing what the community turn out would be the venue provided ample space and a big enough stage to put our vision into motion.
Once the pool of 92 players was selected the coaching staffs for the Thunder and the Storm had about a week to put together and research the players they would draft. I won’t give away any secrets, but the coaching staffs came prepared. Actually, prepared is an understatement. Imagine an NFL fantasy draft in Las Vegas, this was the scale and the preparation these coaching staffs put into to getting ready for the big day. Player ranking sheets, stats, character evaluations all were flooded across each of the team’s war rooms.
In true format of the draft when the player was selected his name was rushed out to the stage in the atrium where our sponsor of the draft and commissioner Oscar Leeser read off the picks. It was no surprise to have our city’s stand out quarterback and future San Diego State star from El Dorado High School Mr. Cedarius Barfield have his name called as the first overall pick of the draft to the Blue Thunder. Cedarius was greeted at the stage with his jersey and cap and then ushered onto the stage for photos and a media blitz awaiting to speak to him. Everything went about as good as we could’ve imagined. Our biggest problem we ran into was hitting capacity about 20 minutes before the draft even began. There was standing room only with close to 1000 people in attendance. The upper level was filled with cheerleaders and spectators. The bottom floor was a sea of people all congregating awaiting to see who the next pick would be. A huge success that was put together flawlessly by our committee. To see the faces of the players and their families as their name was called made everything worthwhile. There’s no doubt in my mind this draft will be a permanent memory and highlight these student athletes of El Paso will remember for the rest of their lives. I want to thank everyone involved in putting this together. Our sponsors, committee members, school districts, athletic directors, coaches, student athletes and parents.