(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
The oldest of eight children, Elsey and her siblings were always playing games growing up, especially Monopoly, she said.
"I love Monopoly -- not that I was ever any good at it," admitted Elsey. "I just love to play games."
Elsey has been playing in the Monopoly Game Tournament since the early 1980s. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the tournament which was started by Elsey's former boss, the late Francis Shumacher.
"Back then Mr. Shumacher would haul in a refrigerator, freezer and big TV for the winner to choose one of the three for their prize," Elsey recalled.
For a change of pace this year, the Monopoly Game Tournament, which is scheduled for March 8, is being held at the Clinton Building in the Sikeston Sports Complex. Also those wanting to have a group of five or six players who would like to play together, reservations are being taken this year.
"We just want this to be a fun evening with a more relaxed, family-oriented environment," said Wende Pruden, tournament chairperson. "We want people to have a really good time and support the youth of Sikeston."
The tournament, which is sponsored in cooperation with Parker Brothers, will include a 90-minute preliminary round of Monopoly and a 90-minute final round.
As fun as the tournament can be, it can also get pretty intense.
"There are those who take it seriously -- and you can point them out fairly quick, but the atmosphere is friendly and calm," Elsey assured.
Prizes are awarded based on amount of money contributed to the winners of the semi round and final round. All players with $25 or more will receive a special participation award. Additional prizes are awarded to those with $150 in contributions and those players with the most contributions and number of sponsors.
Elsey has never won first prize, but she has made it to the final round a few times, she said.
The Optimists try to have six tables with a minimum of 24 players and a maximum of 40 players. The winner from each table goes onto the final round. Pruden said getting people to play in the tournament is a lot tougher than one may think.
"It's getting harder to find participants," Pruden said. "There are a lot of people who wanted to play but didn't know how to get a sponsor in years' past."
Elsey said when she first began, she collected $1 or $2 from friends and then from some businesses. Each year the donations got larger, she said. She has even raised enough money for her husband, daughter, son and herself to play in previous years.
"It's for a good cause," Elsey said. "And its tax deductible. Plus the main key is it's a lot of fun."
Proceeds from the event benefit the club's youth projects which include the annual shoe project. Between 250 and 300 pairs of shoes are provided annually to area school-aged children.
"I play for the enjoyment and the fundraising. This is the main money raiser the Optimists have and the shoe project is really needed," Elsey said.
Contributions also help the club continue providing programs and projects that include a local level Optimist International Oratorical Contest, Student Government Day and youth league sports team sponsorships.
"If you like playing games, then you'll love the tournament," Elsey said. "It's a chance to meet new people and anybody can come and watch."
Tournament registration begins at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in pitting their real estate trading skills against other top players while helping Sikeston area youth should contact Pruden at 472-2761 (evenings) or 472-5452 (days) to obtain a player's kit.