For something that has started small, no one could have imagined what it has grown into today. Over 427 teams this year and hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money has been given out — nothing but goodwill and volunteerism from the community.
Roswell goes out of their way to show the world they know how to put on a show for all of the world to emulate. This is the 24th annual Hike It & Spike It, and it is one of the most talked about events in Roswell. For Camron Adams, his love of HISI goes all the way back to when he was 10 years old and he played in it. When he was a student at New Mexico Military Institute, he became involved in it by doing community service.
“I think HISI is a big deal to Roswell,” Adams said. “It brings in a lot of money and the economic impact is amazing. I don’t think people realize it brings in a lot of eyes, 30,000 visitors and it helps all of the local businesses, as well. The best part of it is that you get to spend time with your family.”
Adams and his company, All American Cleaners, would later become a sponsor of HISI and has been since 2009. He felt like he wanted people and participants to have a keepsake of their time at the event. One thing that bothered him was that when people came here, they could buy souvenirs, but there was nothing that instantly brings a smile to the faces of those that came to HISI.
While attending a basketball game at American Airlines Center, Adams got the idea from the big signs all over and he had attended a few events. He thought that HISI was a big event and needed its own signature sign.
“I know that HISI is a pretty big event,” Adams said. “I figured why not here. If you have been to the American Airlines Center, there’s the B, and the I is missing, and then the G. For the Big D. I felt we needed a statement piece here.”
Adams researched the letters and he found out that every big event nationwide had something like that where they could take a picture with it. The idea behind it was they could take a picture and take something home with them.
Adams presented the idea to Cla Avery and Jim Matteucci, who told him to find someone who did that. Adams found the perfect person in Orlando, Florida.
“I just didn’t want letters up there,” Adams said. “If you don’t know what Hike It & Spike It is, you’re not going to know what Spike means. I told them I either wanted Spike to be on top or in the front so they can see what Spike meant.”
People can take a picture with Hike. A kid broke the foot off of him a couple of years ago and he just stays on top now.
The thing that impresses Adams the most is HISI brings in teams from all over the world, especially from West Texas and southeastern New Mexico that would never come here except to play in the football tournament.
Having this tournament helps the local economy in the way of hotels, restaurants, and people are inclined to see the museum when they are here. An economic indirect impact is that $14,753,249.76 was produced during this weekend last year.
“A lot of the money the tournament brings in to Roswell is new money,” Adams said. “The biggest thing is local people will spend money, but it’s the new money that is amazing to see come in that would never be here.”
Adams also noted that HISI gives to Character Counts! and other charities. They also donate things to the city after they have used it for the tournament.
Adams has to pinch himself as he walks by and sees the thrill people and the players get out of taking a picture with the mascot of HISI. When he came up with this idea, he never thought it would take off and be as big as it is now.
“Before we did this,” Adams said, “it was a blank canvas, people didn’t really get to take anything back home with them. There’s a lot of banners and stuff out there, but people didn’t want to take a picture of that. The whole idea was they get to take something back. You can’t help yourself but to walk by and smile and think you had a hand in doing something like that.”
Adams stresses the key was that he was looking for something that a person could be the “I” in it. Avery, Matteucci and HISI paid for it.
One of the interesting things is how they choose the color purple. Adams said they put a lot of thought into it. They didn’t want the colors red or blue because of Roswell and Goddard High schools and they didn’t want to offend anyone. They wanted a color where everyone could get along and no one’s feelings would get hurt.
They decided on purple because there was no drama with color and it stuck out like a sore thumb. The mascot is also three-dimensional. Adams wanted the letters to stand alone and wanted the base to be big to withstand the weather and the winds. Each letter weighs over 200 pounds. This base and the letters are 6-foot and is bigger than the one in Dallas. The HISI mascot has been in place since 2016.
“I’m just happy people enjoy it,” Adams said, “as much as I enjoyed it coming to me for the first time. It’s nice to see everyone standing around and the joy with all of the teams taking a picture with it and sharing that joy with everybody. It really has nothing to do with me, I just had the idea.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.