COLUMBIA — An hour before tipoff of the Missouri women’s basketball game versus Oklahoma State, Chad Cook and Morgan Imhoff leaned back in their chairs inside the Dippin’ Dots stand at Mizzou Arena. They were talking to each other and eating ice cream. The gates had just opened, and the two did not have any customers to serve.
Cook and Imhoff are juniors from Jamestown High School. Their class, which consists of 11 people, has worked the concessions stands at the Missouri women’s basketball games all year. Twelve percent of the profits go towards their fundraiser.
“Most seniors take a class trip at the end of the year,” Cook said. “We don’t really know where we’re going yet, we’re just trying to raise money.”
The Dippin’ Dots stand, isolated in the northwest corner of the arena, doesn’t have a lot of customers before the game or during the first half. Business picks up at halftime, but its nothing compared to the line outside the main concession area, where everything from soda to popcorn to hot dogs are sold.
“Halftime is crazy. We get so many people,” said Taylor Muri, who worked one of the cash registers of the concession stand.
Muri, another junior from Jamestown, worked with her dad, Gail Muri, who listened to the orders and filled them as quickly as he could. Luckily, the most popular items, popcorn and large souvenir sodas, are the easiest orders to fill. Their work helped fans to get back in time for the second half.
“They just want to get taken care of,” Gail Muri said. “So we try to take care of them as fast as we can.”
Although there are times when the workers must focus on getting customers through the line quickly, there are plenty of opportunities to interact with customers, which makes the experience more enjoyable.
“We had a band member that was really fun,” Taylor Muri said. “She told us all the different bands she’s been in and all the instruments she’s played.”
The concession workers usually arrive at the arena two hours before tipoff to get everything ready to go. Include the 45-minute commute from Jamestown, and the result is a pretty big time commitment. The 11 students try to rotate who works from game to game, but with so few people, there aren’t many games off.
“Most of us work every game, but every so often, some of us don’t come,” Cook said.
Cook and Imhoff said they had no problem spending an evening or one day of their weekend in Columbia. Taylor Muri doesn’t seem to mind either.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “Missouri fans have been great.”