I had started this as a social media post back in February but now as time has trickled away like the proverbial sand through the hourglass, those final grains seeping through the neck, I realized that I hadn’t finished the post of my top five memories during my time here in Devils Lake.
So instead, I’ll finish it here in this space.
5) The road trip: According to Google maps, the road trip from my hometown to Devils Lake is 25 hours. Now, while I will try to transverse it in about that time frame, coming out to North Dakota was a four day affair. Due to waiting on my apartment to be ready for my arrival, it afforded me time to take in the trip. It was my first real road trip, traveling through cities I have never previously before been.
Like the first overnight stay was in Cincinnati, which is only about a nine hour drive from my hometown. I stayed in an out of budget hotel (last minute booking) that was a stone’s throw away from Paul Brown Stadium. Before I continued my trip, I walked downtown to the riverfront, passing by Great American Ball Park (home of the Reds) before spending a few hours inside the National Railroad Freedom Center.
My next stop was in one of Chicago’s suburbs (can’t remember which one) where I indulged myself with a deep dish. I didn’t sightsee the Windy City. Instead, I continued on and made my final stop in Minneapolis where I of course visited the Mall of America.
I traveled through Indianapolis but didn’t stop. Maybe I can time my trip where that will be my rest break on the return home.
4) Opening night of high school football: There’s nothing particularly special about that first night of high school football. I’ve been a part of many, from both my playing days to my coverage of them. But I think what resonate with me is what I wrote in my first column — no matter what community you’re in, no matter what part of the US you are located, Friday night football has a special place in those communities.
The minutiae of that particular game has since faded from my memory. I learned then that my photography, still in its infancy, was a long ways away before I felt I had a grasp of it and it took a few games into the season before I was able to get my coverage rhythm back. Regardless, from either North Carolina to North Dakota, football night in America — that opening Friday night — will always a distinctive experience. I also considered that night to be my first real day on the job with the Journal so that’s part of it as well.
3) The college experience: At the time of this writing, we don’t know when we all will be able to gather together in stadiums or arenas to cheer on our alma maters or gather in stadium parking lots to tailgate for hours before kickoff. So the past two years I’ve spent covering mostly UND football has a much greater meaning now. I never mingled among the tailgaters outside the Alerus (or the Fargodome) but I no less felt the atmosphere. And despite me “working,” I enjoyed every snap, every hackle I heard from the stands as I roamed the sideline. My college sports viewing will never be the same for both better and for worse.
This includes basketball, where I spent time along the baseline with camera in tow. Or from press row when possible.
I only attended one Bison football game but that was when they rose the championship banner for the 15th time. It was the first time I’ve ever been in attendance for that type of ceremony and it was cool.
2) The stars aligning in Minneapolis: I was only at the DLJ a month before I was fortunate enough to experience an unexpected treat. I became the sports editor just time to successfully gain media credentials for the 2018 WNBA All-Star game that was held in the Target Center. I’ve been a fan of the WNBA from nearly its inception when my home state had a franchise in the Sting (current South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was a former player) and it was also my first, and only, opportunity to cover a professional sporting event.
I arrived in Minneapolis on Friday to pick up my credentials but didn’t attend the “Orange Carpet” event that night. When I got to the Target Center Saturday for the game, the first player I saw as I entered the locker room corridor was Maya Moore, who was being filmed for one of those ‘locker room walk thru’ promos. I walked past Sue Bird before finding my media seat location for the game, eating the media meal and attending then President Lisa Borders’ pre-game presser.
I don’t remember much from the game itself but to be able to swathed in that environment, will always be a Top 3 memory for me.
1) The Final Four: There’s only two sporting events that most sports enthusiast would say would be on their bucket list to attend — the Super Bowl and the Final Four. I wouldn’t have imagined that relocating to North Dakota would afford me the opportunity to cover the latter (one of a Final Four record 2,442 credentialed media). The games allowed me to go experience US Bank Stadium, rub elbows with some of sports media’s dignitaries (I nodded my head in acknowledgment to Pat Forde and had a brief conversation with ‘The Undefeated’’s William Rhoden) and shared the same walking space with Patrick Mahomes.
Admittedly, my media seat was rotten (although I had a laser view of Ernie, Kenny and Chuck), but there was this indescribable buzz with over 70,000 fans encased around you. The foul heard round the world in the Auburn/Virginia semifinal game happened on my end of the floor but no loose confetti landed on me when the Cavaliers came away with the title.
Unfortunately, a bug hit me so I left Minneapolis feeling miserable. But through it all, I can say thank you to the DLJ for giving me these memories that will be forever cemented into my being forever.