Meridian, Miss. The State Games of Mississippi got underway with all kinds of pomp and ceremony Friday night. Thousands of people packed downtown Meridian for the official opening ceremonies that was a prelude to all the fun happening across the area Saturday.
The fun and competition actually takes place every weekend in June. Thousands of athletes, friends, family and interested onlookers take part.
There's a reason it's the city's single largest tourism event. Over five thousand athletes come to the State Games, ready to compete for bragging rights of best in the state.
Many of these players have trained and practiced multiple times per week to fine-tune their skills.
"We work really hard on positions and passing and dribbling," said Tucker Jones of Team Renaldo.
And it all builds up to these matches. Each team hopes to see its hard work pay off as they walk away from the field victorious.
"We've been practicing and we've been trying our hardest," said Lillie Grace Garrett of The Brandon Chaos. "We're going to try our best and win. Probably win."
But it isn't all about getting the win for these athletes. They're out here to have a good time doing what they love.
"We got beat the first game, but the girls played really hard and had fun while they were doing it," said Coach Kristi Bush of The Blue Dolphins. "And we look forward to playing the next game."
And speaking of winning, we caught up with Tori Powers, the winner of a gold medal on the volleyball court. She says it was great to see her hard work rewarded after years of playing volleyball.
"It means a lot. It was hard and tiring, but we worked through it," said Power. "I couldn't have done it without my partner, but I had fun. It was hard work, but it was worth it."
These games won't be the last. The State Games continue throughout the entire month, so you'll have plenty of chances to see these athletes in action. Click the link below for more information about the State Games and the remaining events.