Story written by Julia Fischer for CUWFalcons.com
Every year you hear about the results from different basketball tournaments that take place across the country, usually at the end of the season. People brag about how their bracket for NCAA March Madness is going to win it all, but you never hear anyone talk about January Madness. For a few schools the last week in January is something the students and athletes look forward to since the beginning of the school year.
Concordia Nebraska will host the 66th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament (CIT) this weekend (January 27-28) in Seward, Neb. The tournament hosts the Concordias of Ann Arbor, Nebraska, Mequon and Chicago, competing in both men's and women's basketball. CIT is one of the longest running tournaments in the country and it is a highlight of the athletic year among the participating schools. During halftime of a game this weekend, a member of the early tournaments is formally being inducted into the CUW Athletic Hall of Fame.
Donald Becker started his basketball career playing for Concordia College High School from 1959-1961. He then went on to play for our Junior College from 1961-1963. The skilled athlete continued on at Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne from 1963-65, starting his junior and senior years. Becker also played at Concordia Seminary St. Louis from 1965-69, winning two CIT titles during that time.
Becker was privileged to play in his first CIT in 1965. CIT that year was hosted at Concordia River Forest (now Chicago) and the Concordia Senior College Varsity from Fort Wayne was invited to play in the tournament won by the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis team.
"The second CIT I was privileged to play in was hosted by Concordia St. Paul in 1969 and the seminary team flew from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn.," Becker reminisced. "I don't remember who won that year, but just being able to play in the tournament was memorable."
"For the better part of 10 years I was able to play varsity basketball for Concordia teams and started as a forward in nearly all the games I played in," Becker shared. "I remember all those teams and teammates that played well together under good coaches, even if we didn't always have a winning record every year."
CIT was created by Eldon Pederson of Concordia Seminary St. Louis during the fall of 1950. He developed the idea of a basketball tournament involving The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's four culminating schools: the teachers' colleges in Seward and River Forest, and the seminaries in Springfield, Ill., and St. Louis.
The first trial tournament was held in St. Louis on March 9-10, 1951. St. Louis defeated River Forest, 50-40, to win the championship. The tournament was a hit and had such great attendance that it became an annual event. Each institution would have the opportunity to serve as the host for the tournament as the location rotates each year.
The event has taken place the last weekend in January since 1977. Originally CIT took place during the postseason, but due to conflicts with conference, district and national tournaments it was canceled in 1976 and from 1977 and on it was held at the end of January.
Concordia Wisconsin didn't join the tournament until 1994 when Concordia Seminary St. Louis withdrew from the tournament. After being invited to fill the slot vacated by St. Louis, the CUW men's team began its first year of competition in the tournament. The CUW women's team had been the fourth invited team since 1990.
The Falcons will host the tournament next year in January of 2018. The school will be filled with spirit and hype for the impending games against some of our closest rivals. CIT is an event basketball fans don't want to miss.