Fall Invitational a boon for Exchange Club causes
Rochester service clubs have a long history of turning invitational high school sports tournaments into moneymakers for their local causes.
The wintertime basketball and hockey tournaments presented by the Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club have been around the longest and have returned nearly $1.5 million combined to the community. Not to be left out of the fun, it's the Exchange Club's turn again.
The Rochester Exchange Club's 15th annual Fall Volleyball Invitational is Friday and Saturday at the National Volleyball Center, and with 32 varsity and B squad teams in town for two days it brings an infusion of cash to local businesses as well as the club's coffers.
Tournament director Phil Schroeder is among dozens of volunteers who make the tournament run smoothly. He said the Fall Invitationalhas raised over $100,000 in 14 years for causes including youth sports, high school scholarships, Channel One Food Bank,Freedom Shrine, Miracle Fields, Rochester Senior Center and various civic programs.
"The MEA weekend was chosen for a number of reasons," Schroeder explained, "but primarily because it provides a great tune-up for the section volleyball tournament for varsity teams and for the B-squad teams it's a great cap to the season."
* John Marshall is the two-time defending tournament champion, but the Rockets won't be favored to three-peat after going 7-16 in the regular season. JM beat Austin 3-0 on Tuesday, after going 0-4 last weekend at a strong tournament in Apple Valley.
JM isn't the only team in this field that struggled this season. Nine of the 16 varsity teams are below .500, five enter with losing streaks of four or more, and the entire field has just a .420 winning percentage.
The field includes all four Rochester schools again and is a mix of seven teams from Class AAA, seven from Class AA, and two from Class A including Hayfield, which is 15-7 and ranked No. 9.
Mayo has won this tournament four times and could add a fifth. The Spartans are 17-4 and claimed a share of the Big Nine Conference crown with Tuesday's 3-1 win over Century. That was the third straight loss for the 14-9 Panthers.
Cannon Falls enters with a 15-7 record after four straight 3-0 wins. The Bombers tied with Kasson-Mantorville for second in the Hiawatha Valley League.