She didn't dazzle the crowds with any behind-the-back passes like Nicky Bradford or light up the nets a la Jacque Vaughn, but Sarah Greenlee was perhaps the most popular of all the stars who shined at the Sunflower State Games.
As a sports and Kansas University basketball fan, Greenlee would feel humbly flattered to be mentioned in the same context as the two KU hoopsters. She's established her own impact and following in just completing her fifth year volunteering as the SSG hospitality coordinator, where she is responsible for providing food, water and refreshments for more than 600 volunteers and staff. Greenlee began preparing for the event more than three months ago, coordinating food donations and meeting with staff.
"I'm pretty people-oriented, so being hospitality coordinator comes pretty naturally to me. I like to make people happy, and everybody likes me because I bring them food," Greenlee said, laughing.
A native Topekan, Greenlee moved to Lawrence in 1984 and recently finished four years working for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"I just think that the Sunflower State Games is a great event for Lawrence," Greenlee said. "It makes me feel good to be a part of it. It's grown every year. It's getting bigger and bigger, and it's fun to see that happening."
Greenlee hasn't had much time to catch her breath the last month with coordinating her many tasks. She does, however, manage a breather on this early Saturday afternoon of the first weekend of competition. She sits and relaxes in the hospitality headquarters at Robinson Gym, while the action in the halls and at the various sites continues.
Greenlee is carrying a radio and cellular phone so she can keep in close communication with volunteers and staff as problems arise.
Her good friend, Marla Schinstock, drove from Wichita this morning to help with the event. Greenlee lauds volunteers such as Schinstock as being the life-blood of the games.
"It takes a tremendous amount of volunteers to put on an event of this magnitude," Greenlee said. "If it wasn't for the volunteers, we could not do it."
Greenlee is one of those indispensable volunteers. In addition to serving as hospitality coordinator, she helps with other tasks such as typing brackets and stuffing packets. She is quick to come to the rescue if someone forgets to provide food or water at a particular site.
Brett McCabe, SSG executive director, has watched Greenlee come through on many occasions the past five years. He feels secure knowing Greenlee is always available and ready to help with any task.
"She's really organized, committed and is very interested in seeing the event be a success for everyone involved," McCabe said. "She's got a very even manner. She's just done a great job overall and has bailed us out (on) a few messes."
As a mother of three sons in a sports-loving family, Greenlee is used to juggling duties and aiding people. She welcomes the spontaneity and challenge of "problem solving" with aplomb, and thrives on perpetual movement. She volunteers for her sons' select soccer teams, and keeps active herself playing softball and bowling.
Greenlee's brief break from the games is now over. She rises from her chair, saying that people are waiting for food and water at the operations center in Anschutz Sports Pavilion. Greenlee smiles proudly as she envisions her future.
"My biggest goal is to raise my children to be giving and caring upstanding citizens," she said. "I guess I do that by setting an example. They're here helping, too. My whole family helps. It's kind of a family affair."
-- The volunteer profile is written by David Garfield of the Roger Hill Volunteer Center.