In Their Words is a weekly feature appearing Sundays in The Blade's sports section. Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg talked with three behind-the-scenes stars of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
No one has ever given them a standing ovation while walking up the 18th fairway or presented any of them with one of those oversized checks, but Sue Campbell, Heather Warga, and Sandy White are the real lady champions of the Farr Classic, which concludes its 25th edition today at Highland Meadows.
In tandem with tournament director Judd Silverman, they are the veterans of the Farr staff and the nucleus of a very small, year-round operation for what is officially called Toledo Classic, Inc.
White, who has an eclectic business background, has been with the Farr since 2001, and has been director of operations since 2004. She is a graduate of Rogers High School who earned a degree in business management at the University of Toledo at the same time she was embarking on a career with Owens Corning.
"I started volunteering at the tournament in the early '90s and got to know the people in the office," White said. "One of them had a degree in sports management. I'd never heard of that, but it appealed to me. So I was 35 years old and I quit Owens Corning and went back to school at Bowling Green to get another degree."
She interned in the Farr Classic office while attending BGSU, worked several jobs over the next few years, and then was hired by the Detroit Tigers and became assistant treasurer in the box office before being offered her first full-time position at the Farr. In her current role, she oversees payroll, accounting and the intern program, and is the top liaison with suppliers who install on-course structures, such as tents and bleachers.
Warga, a native of Ada, Ohio, came to Toledo in 1990 to attend the University of Toledo. After graduating, she worked in the athletic marketing department at UT for eight years before being hired as volunteer coordinator for both the Farr and the 2003 U.S. Senior Open. In her current role she oversees the efforts of some 25 volunteer committee chairmen, about 125 directors, and more than 1,100 total volunteers at the Farr.
She is married to Tim Warga, the assistant athletic director/operations at UT, and has two young children.
Campbell is the real veteran of the staff. She was a volunteer at the first Farr Classic in 1984 and has been employed by the tournament since 1998. Before then, she was an educator for 20 years, spending much of that time as a government and history teacher at Central Catholic High School (1979-85) and as principal of St. Stephen's School in East Toledo (1985-96). Sue is married to Tim Campbell, a retired Toledo police lieutenant, and has three stepchildren.
She is the Farr's administrative coordinator and is in charge of program publication, on-course signage, and some finance and contract work.
CAMPBELL: "It's hard to believe the Farr has lasted 25 years because so few tournaments do. I think it's because of Judd's leadership and the respect the business community has for his efforts. We put on a quality event and do it on a much smaller budget than a lot of tournaments. It's one of the few assets the community has on a yearly basis, and people have really responded. The support is tremendous because people know why we're here, to raise money for charities, and because it's such a good time."
WHITE: "It's ironic that I worked many years for Owens Corning, which is now our title sponsor. And I have a neat tie-in with Jamie Farr too. My dad, Dick White, was a knuckleball pitcher in the minor leagues back in the mid-1950s, and his team got hand-me-down jerseys one year from the Mud Hens. Years later, the team put out a call for an authentic uniform from that era for Jamie to wear on M*A*S*H. My dad had one and contributed it. So what used to be my Halloween costume was the Mud Hens jersey Jamie wore on M*A*S*H and is now hanging in the Smithsonian."
WARGA: "We have about 20 volunteers who have been with the tournament for all 25 years and we'll recognize them [today] at the end of the tournament. It's a unique thing how many veteran volunteers we have. They work on course [structure] set-up, transportation, food service, trash, as walking scorers, and marshals. We have retirees down to 8-year-old kids who work as [score] runners and standard-bearers. We depend so much on all of them. It's obviously the players who are the attraction, but the mission is to give back through charitable efforts and to see the community come together and volunteer so that we're successful is my favorite part. That and our check presentation luncheon to the charities in December. That's a special moment every year."
CAMPBELL: "After teaching and being a principal for so many years, working at this tournament is a piece of cake. We have a pretty good team, and I enjoy all the people I work with. There are some long days though. It's fun to see it all come together and get up and running, but the hours can be awfully long during tournament week. I'm here as early as 5:30 some mornings and will be here until play ends. Sandy and Heather start about the same time and might be here until 9 or 10 at night. Age does have its benefits, I guess."
WARGA: "This year was even more of a challenge, time-wise, because we [Toledo Classic, Inc.] also ran the NCAA golf championship at Inverness in May and the weather was so bad. It took a week, maybe more, away from our ability to focus on the Farr. We were talking about it [Thursday] and we figured that day made it 21 straight days of 12 to 16 hours for each of us. I don't know as how people on the outside understand what goes into putting on this type of event. But that's OK as long as they come out and support the tournament and have a great time."
WHITE: "Without a doubt, the best part of this job is the family that makes up this tournament - the volunteers, the suppliers, our staff, the players, and the fans. I have great friends I've met here. It really is one big family. All you had to see to realize that was the year we had the flood  and the way everybody came together and worked like crazy to get the tournament in. It's not one person or one small staff. It's the 1,200 people, give or take, who make it happen and the thousands more who support it."