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The Concordia Invitational Tournament (CIT) is making its long-awaited return at Concordia Nebraska after being on hiatus due to Covid. The tournament is a chance for Concordia Nebraska, Ann Arbor, Chicago, and Wisconsin to compete in men’s and women’s basketball, dance, and cheer, in addition to performances by the respective campus bands. For CUW Men’s basketball seniors Grant Karsten and Gabriel “Gabe” Pruss, this means another opportunity to play in a tournament that hasn’t been around since they were freshmen. 

“I’m really happy. The last couple of years I was pretty disappointed it wasn’t [happening], partly because that means I’m going to graduate this year and we didn’t get to host CIT,” Karsten said. “But Concordia Nebraska will be really fun, especially for the people who haven’t experienced it yet.” 

Why does CIT differ from any other basketball game? The atmosphere. Karsten recounted his experience from a previous year.  

“My freshman year (2020) was the last time they had it and it was in Chicago. It was really cool,” Karsten said. “They always talk about how big of a deal it is and how many students from each of the Concordias will attend to show their school spirit in basketball, dance, and band. It really did live up to the hype.”  

With CIT being hosted this year at Concordia Nebraska, it will take about 8 hours of travel time to reach the participants’ destination. Even though that may sound like a drawback, Pruss had this to say on how it will impact the team.  

“Spending time with the team, whether it be on the bus or in the hotel room, will be great. That’s a really [big] part of having road trips like that,” Pruss said. “It’s going to be interesting to have it actually be a trip. It’s just been a long time, so having that atmosphere of a tournament: everyone there, making it a big deal, is lots of fun to play in.”  

For some, CIT is more than just a tournament. It is a chance to reconnect with former teammates and create lasting memories. Karsten detailed some of his family connections to the tournament.  

“My dad played at Concordia Nebraska and he played at the CIT. He’s going to be able to go back to where he was. He’s going to catch up with some old teammates too,” Karsten said. “My grandpa played in CIT too. He went to seminary to be a pastor, [and] back then the St. Louis seminary was in the CIT tournament so he has all these stories about when they played Concordia Chicago. I think he’s going to try to make it down [to CIT] too.” 

Although CIT can get a bit competitive, in the end, it’s about coming together to have some fun. By having the pep bands, dance, cheer, and basketball teams all in one place, it allows for all to show their skills. 

“I’m just excited for the opportunity to get back there,” Pruss said. “I think it’s definitely a great opportunity for everyone to come out and it’s a nice way for healthy competition between Concordia schools. Obviously everyone wants to win but also just have fun with it and enjoy it.” 

The Concordia Invitational Tournament will be held at Concordia Nebraska on January 27-28th, 2023. Reach out to the Campus Activities Board for ticket information. 

—Emma Druckmiller is a writer for The Beacon, the official student newspaper of Concordia University Wisconsin. She is currently a Junior at CUW and loves sharing stories and getting people’s voices heard.

This article was originally published on December 8th, 2022.