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Corporate Challenge set for 23rd straight launch

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

While the cast keeps changing, the number of teams and participants in the YMCA Marion General Hospital Corporate Challenge remains relatively stable.

Registration closed with 11 teams entered and now final preparations are in place for the 23rd Corporate Challenge on Aug. 2-4 and 9-11. Some familiar names such as Moorehead Communications and Indiana Wesleyan University have closed or did not enter this year, and in addition there has been a change in leadership.

Libby Root added Corporate Challenge director to her duties at the Y at almost the last minute in June but said it has been a smooth transition. Root also is the Y's marketing director and has helped organize past Corporate Challenges.

Zach Hammon, the former Corporate Challenge director, left the Y to accept an assistant soccer coaching position at IU-Kokomo.

"We had somebody already doing the beginning pieces, and thankfully with my tenure at the Y, I already knew what I was stepping into and it wasn't difficult to me," Root said Thursday afternoon in her office. "We had to fast-track some things to get it done, but this is our 23rd year and it did work like a well-oiled machine.

"We did have some time and date changes, but thankfully, there wasn't many major details that we had to finish," she added.

Wal-Mart Logistics (American) and IMG (National) are back to defend their championships. The American Division (250 or more employees) also includes MGH, the co-sponsor, General Motors, City of Marion and American Woodmark, while the National Division (250 or fewer) includes the Y, IGA, Meijer, Conduent, Collins Group and Wiley Metals.

Wiley Metals is a new team and Meijer is back this year after sitting out in the past. Root said 16 teams participated in the Corporate Challenge in 2014, her first year at the Y, and she had talked with other businesses that would like to enter in the future.

"It's always kind of struggle to get people because it's always been the first two weekends in August, and that's right around the time kids are going back to school," Root said. "It's difficult to get additional companies to participate.

"However, we have had some interest and it was just something they couldn't do right away and has to be something they plan for," she continued. "We probably have five or six organizations that said that they would be interested next year, and we're really looking forward to pushing that number back up to 15-20 teams in the next couple years."

Root said the Corporate Challenge Executive Committee has come up with a theme for this year's event.

"Our Executive Committee came up with 'Honoring our Heroes' so we're really excited about that as well," she said. "It's kind of allowing teams and participants to define who their hero is."

Events remain the same with softball, 5K run/time predicted walk, disc golf, basketball hot shot and golf set for the first weekend Aug. 2-4, and bowling, indoor volleyball and tennis on Aug. 9 and 10 leading up to the closing ceremonies.

The Corporate Challenge concludes Aug. 11 at Matter Park with the CEO corn hole, relay race and tug-of-war. The Y and the teams also turn the final day into one big cookout and party.

"We still get really excited about Sunday, the day where everybody comes together and it's the final hurrah for the season," Root said. "So we invite anybody to come out. We always have a big tent set up and we always have plenty of stuff. We invite family and friends and anybody who wants to check it out.

"It's a really good time," Root continued. "Everyone's tired but they're excited to see all the teams that they may not have seen throughout the whole competition time. You can be competitive during the events and on Sunday it's nice to see some of your fellow colleagues in a different light."