- Associated Press - Sunday, October 16, 2016

PONCA, Neb. (AP) - It’s hard to go a high school football or basketball game without stopping at the concession stand for a bag of popcorn or a hot dog.

Have you ever stopped to think about what went into preparing that hot dog or bottle of water that the worker slides across the counter to you?

Wendy Masin knows better than most the challenges of trying to make sure fans don’t go thirsty or hungry at sporting events.

“It’s like any volunteer job. There are days when it’s great, and days when (the supplier) delivers the wrong pop to the wrong stand,” said Masin, one of a core group of volunteers who makes sure concession stands at Ponca High School games are not only adequately stocked with food and drinks, but have enough people to serve them up.

A substitute teacher at Ponca and Jackson, Masin has a flexible schedule that allows her to help schedule workers, get supplies and set up the concession stand. She’s one of the few people available to get to the stand by 3:30 p.m. and begin preparations until other parents can arrive to help at a 5 p.m. volleyball tournament.

“Even when I’m subbing, I can set up during my lunch break,” she said.

Fortunately, there’s a small army of parents to rely upon.

The Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/2dT2Ep1 ) reports that Ponca’s concession stands are run by the music boosters club, with profits going to support the school’s music program. If you have a child in music, you’re automatically in the booster club, and that means you’re going to get scheduled to work at the concession stand.

“We’re lucky our music program has grown so we don’t have parents work more than once or maybe twice a year,” Masin said.

Even with a large number of parents available, that doesn’t necessarily make scheduling any easier. Masin and fellow teacher Mishelle Fields schedule workers in August, trying to make sure that parents of football players work at volleyball games and parents of volleyball players are scheduled for football games. If the parents have kids in both sports? Well, that’s when the fun begins.

“It takes us a long time (to schedule workers), and then there’s always mix-ups or something changes,” Masin said.

For the most part, parents understand. Masin said 99 percent of them show up when scheduled or trade with someone for a more convenient date. Yes, there are occasional excuses to get out of working, but Masin prefers that to people who just don’t show up without notice.

Masin’s also learning the ins and outs of ordering food and supplies while band teacher Jessica Steckly, who usually handles those duties, is on maternity leave.

So when all the water was sold during an unseasonably hot late-September football game, leaving none for a volleyball game the following Tuesday, the day before the supplier was due in town, it was Masin who drove to Sioux City to pick up more.

“It’s just a matter of keeping up with it,” said Masin, who’s getting ordering help from Jamie Hamar, who’s also filling in for Steckly in the classroom.

Like other parents and volunteers at schools across Siouxland, Masin works behind the scenes to provide an important function at her school. She’s found that it’s impossible to turn down the request for help.

“I can’t say no very well, I’ve learned,” she said with a laugh.

But hungry fans are no laughing matter, and Masin said seeing the concession stand running smoothly makes this sometimes thankless job a good one. It’s why she’s always willing to do what’s needed to keep the food and drink flowing.

“As long as I’m not in that stand every night, I’ll do that behind-the-scenes stuff as long as I can,” she said.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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