The cool thing about Terry Stefankiewicz is his mind never stops working. The bad thing for Terry Stefankiewicz is he can't shut his mind off.
Which is good news for everyone else, especially soccer fans. The executive director of the Shindigz National Soccer Festival is always tinkering with the event in his head, trying to find a new twist or tweak that can enhance everyone's enjoyment. It's a vicious cycle trying continually to top the country's best regular-season college event, but it keeps Stefankiewicz from ever getting bored.
He's already doomed himself because he's going to have to think a little harder for next year, maybe a lot harder.
For the first time since the event started in 1996, the highlight will be a match between the two most recent men's national championship teams when 2012 champ Indiana takes on 2011 champ North Carolina on Saturday.
That's going to be tough to top.
Here are some of the key things to look for from this year's event which starts at 5 p.m. Thursday with Michigan State taking on North Carolina followed by Indiana against Marquette. That's four nationally ranked teams squaring off.
Q. How good has the quality of the tournament become in terms of individual talent?
A. More than 50 festival players have advanced at least as high as Major League Soccer.
Q. Who are the best teams this year?
A. Indiana is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, North Carolina is No. 5, Marquette No. 8 and Michigan State No. 25.
Q. With so many great teams, how's the pre-sale on tickets going?
A. The festival has already set a record with more than 2,000 tickets sold ahead of time. It's expected to easily pass 10,000 fans by the time the three-day event is completed.
Q. How many teams are involved?
A. Only Stefankiewicz can keep track of everything, but there are 14 men's and women's college teams, 36 high school teams playing in the Snider Invitational and 140 youth teams. There are schools representing NCAA Division I, II and III and NAIA, including Stefankiewicz's own Trine University women's team. Yes, he has to coach, too.
Q. If it's this big already, how's next year going to top it?
A. Connecticut, Virginia, Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame have all expressed interest in playing with Indiana next year. ``It fills up by itself,'' Stefankiewicz said.
Q. So who are the best players?
A. Too many to list them all, but there are a few All-America candidates to watch for. Indiana has Nikita Kotlov and A.J. Corrado. North Carolina's seven returning starters are led by Andy Craven and Rob Lovejoy. Xavier has All-American Nick Hagglund and Marquette has forward C. Nortey.
Q. What else is planned for entertainment?
A. There's an ice cream-eating contest at halftime of the Indiana and North Carolina match; the always-popular bungee jumping trampoline returns; Neoti lighting will have a display and, likely, Stefankiewicz will thank everyone personally for attending.
Just guess which event will see more people.