A large number of people work behind the scenes each year at the Sandra Meadows Classic. They help Tournament Director Steve Martin keep everything running smoothly for one of the longest running and most prestigious invitational girls’ varsity basketball tournaments in the country. Tournament partners include the City of Duncanville, Chamber of Commerce, Duncanville Lions Club, and DISD. Members of the Lions Club in their distinctive gold vests can be seen throughout the event, selling tickets, greeting visitors, or answering questions.
DISD cafeteria workers help maintain the hospitality room that provides a quiet place for networking, meetings and interviews for visiting coaches, college scouts, media, referees and volunteers. They prepare some of the food, while local businesses like Kitchens Deli and others also donate sandwiches or other items.
Referee Anthony Jones
One of the busiest people at the tournament is Anthony Jones, who has been a referee for the Sandra Meadows Classic for the past 12 years. Like so many of the tournament’s fans, Jones says he wouldn’t dream of missing the tournament. He plans his schedule to take time off from his regular job as a truck driver. The love of the game runs in his family; he played basketball at Troop TX HS, and continued in college. He started working as a referee for tournaments while still in college. His daughter plays on her high school team while his wife coaches women’s basketball at Tyler Junior College.
Jones said he thinks the competitive spirit of today’s players has diminished in recent years. He blames all the distractions young players have in their lives today, especially social media and staying plugged in to their cell phones 24/7. The student’s parents also have a major role to play, he said. They are just as important an influence as a good teacher or coach.
While referees may not always be the most popular people on the court, “depending on how the game goes for your team,” Jones said they take their jobs very seriously, and always try to be fair.
Probably no one associated with the Sandra Meadows Memorial Classic knows more about the varsity girls’ basketball tournament and the legacy of Coach Meadows than Janice Savage-Martin. Janice (McJunkin) was a former Pantherette who played for Coach Meadows’ in 1968 and 1969. She had a legacy to maintain, since both her mother and her grandmother had played girls’ basketball at Duncanville HS. Savage-Martin now assists her husband, Tournament Director Steve Martin, with the girls’ basketball tournament. A Duncanville HS graduate, she is also President of the Duncanville ISD board of trustees.
Janice said the tournament, then called the Southwestern Amateur Athletics Union (SWAAU) Varsity Girls’ Basketball tournament, took place in the old gym at the High School (now Central Elementary) when she played for the Duncanville girls’ team. After SWAAU lost their lease to the Automobile Bldg. at Fair Park, the city of Duncanville stepped up to offer to house the tournament in their gym. One of the highlights of playing there, she said, was a giant map of the State of Texas. Teams from different cities in Texas were lit up on the map.
Tournament Director Steve Martin
When Duncanville Chamber President Steve Martin became tournament director 17 years ago, he moved the tournament to the state-of-the-art Sandra Meadows Memorial Arena at Duncanville HS. At that time, the tournament was renamed the Sandra Meadows Classic to honor the legendary Pantherettes Coach who died in 1994.
After graduation, Janice attended Southern Methodist University (SMU) where she majored in dance. She had fallen in love with the SMU campus, she said, after attending summer camp for student council representatives before her senior year at Duncanville HS. While she loved playing basketball, only a few colleges fielded women’s basketball teams at that time.
Coach Meadows had also been unable to play basketball in college, attending Texas Christian University (TCU). Happily, Meadows’ love of the game continued unabated, and she started coaching after graduation. Through her lengthy career as an award-winning girls’ basketball coach, Coach Meadows left a legacy for generations of young women like Janice Savage-Martin.