Additions to the Shootout half-time lineup

Halftime is cool-down time. The players are off the court, the bathroom breaks are commencing and it’s everyone’s chance to unwind from the game tension for a few minutes.

But just because the players aren’t on the court, it doesn’t mean that no one is working.

Halftime entertainment is a big part of every sports game. It keeps the crowd occupied while the players regroup. The Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout is known for having certain halftime performances at most of its tournaments in recent years, such as local high school cheerleading groups, UAA’s cheerleading team, a short children’s basketball game, Underground Dance Company and the Alaskanettes Baton Corps.

This year, in addition to these veteran Shootout performers, there are a few new things to look out for, such as taiko drummers from the local taiko drumming group Tomodachi Daiko Inc.

Frank Jeffries, a business professor at UAA, is a local taiko drummer with the group.

“I’ve been with the group for seven years now, and I’ve gotten to where I like it quite a bit,” he said. “We use a variety of instruments … and it’s not just playing the drum. There’s choreography in arm movement and steps around the drum that goes with it, things like that.”

Taiko drumming can be traced back to feudal Japan, when the drums were used in court music. They were also used in warfare to keep the marching pace, summon troops and indicate certain strategies.

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Daihachi Oguchi established modern taiko drumming in 1951 and is credited with forming the first taiko performance ensemble. Taiko came to America from Japan around 1968, when a postwar immigrant named Seiichi Tanaka started the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Grand Master Tanaka also helped form Tomodachi Daiko Inc. in 2000, along with the group’s founders Sachiko Kono and Miyuki Imai, the group’s website states.

While this will be Tomodachi Daiko’s first performance at Shootout, it will not be their first performance at the Sullivan Arena.

“We really enjoy it because of the large crowd, and it’s a great venue,” Jeffries said. “It’s a great place to make a lot of noise.”

Another big addition to the Shootout’s halftime entertainment is involvement with Carrs/Safeway. While the organization has sponsored Shootout for years, it has never actively participated before.

“We’re working with our corporate sponsor, Carrs/Safeway, on anything that they’re wanting to do at Shootout this year,” Margot Ferguson, the marketing and game day coordinator for Shootout, said. “Some kind of fun halftime games to give away prizes and other little things they’ll do at timeouts and stuff like that to give away prizes to people in the crowd.”

Ferguson later said they would be firing t-shirt cannons into the crowd, and are sponsoring a little blimp that would fly over the crowd and drop gift certificates. During halftime, they’ll be putting on both a children’s game and an adults’ game, where the players complete for prizes.

Carrs will be doing more than just halftime and time out entertainment as well.

“They’ll be doing stuff up on the concourse, the main area, and other areas to give prizes and give away samples and things like that,” Ferguson said. “This is the first year that CARRS has been so interactive with us. … We’re really excited for how much involvement they have this year.”

There will also be a greater push towards military appreciation this year, including a half-time show featuring members of the military from JBER.

“It’s just something we really wanted to do for them. This whole Shootout is kind of going to be military appreciation, but we’re going to be having one specific night where we’re going to be doing a big military appreciation night. That Wednesday during the men’s session (Nov. 21), at the 7:30 game, we’re going to do color guard, honorings for the people who are in attendance,” Ferguson said. “We have a lot of men and women (in the military) who are single and who don’t have much to do. They don’t have time to go home for the weekend, so it’s a really good event for them to come to. We do military discounts and we have military sponsor tickets where sponsors will pay to give the military a free ticket. It’s a fun event for them, and it’s over a holiday where they might not have a lot else going on.”

While Shootout has always offered a variety of halftime entertainment and activities, it has even more to show off this year.