Throughout the 2019-2020 Chester High School basketball season, the Yellow Jacket 3-Point Shot shirt promotion was another big hit with Jacket fans.
More than 400 T-shirts were circulated into Chester at both Yellow Jacket and Lady Jacket games this past season.
The popular promotion began 27 years ago to create excitement at CHS basketball games. The idea was borrowed from Southern Illinois University where the Salukis have had the event for almost four decades. Each time a three-pointer is made by the home team, several 3-Point Shot T-shirts are thrown into the crowd.
When the promotion began, two people were throwing the shirts into the crowd -- Brian "Gritty" Snider, the voice of the Yellow Jackets and Jim Beers, Snider's color commentator for the KSGM Radio 980-AM basketball broadcasts.
Silkworm Inc. and KSGM-AM were the sole sponsors in the beginning, but this season there were 22. Now at home games, current KSGM play-by-play broadcaster Clay Herrell, and Beers, are joined by the CHS cheerleaders, stadium announcer Mike Lochhead and at least one of the loyal sponsors, in shooting T-shirts into the crowd.
If the Jackets' three-point shooting is cold one night, all of the night's allotment of shots is thrown to the crowd anyway!
In the 27-year history of the project an estimated 9,000 shirts have been given away.
"I see kids and adults alike still wearing some of the original shirts that we threw nearly three decades ago," Snider said. "The promotion is very popular and Yellow Jacket fans have come to expect the flying shirts every time a three-pointer is made at home games."
2019-2020 sponsors were Buena Vista National Bank, Reiss Ford of Marissa, Lochhead's Service Station, Rozier's Country Market, Mayor Tom Page and the City of Chester, Chester Insurance Agency, Victor's MediCenter, Scott Reeves "The Painter," Andy's Auto Body, Southwestern Illinois Bus Company (SWIBCO -- who carries on Jackets to games), Paul Gentry and State Farm Insurance, Brad Coleman and Tony Lochhead, the Uptown Barbers, River City Auto, Rowold Hardware, First Baptist Church in Chester, Tequila's Mexican Restaurant, Tim Hall Construction, Memorial Hospital of Chester, Muddy River Coffee, Classic Country 980-AM Radio, The Randolph County Herald Tribune and Silkworm Inc.
Sponsors say it is highly likely the promotion will return for a 28th season. So until then, as CHS stadium announcer Mike Lochhead shouts out at the beginning of each home basketball game, "Keep your eyes to the skies and you might just be the newest member of the Yellow Jacket 3-Point Shot Club!"