Friday, September 6, 2013

Brian Suh Takes on THE BIG ROOST

Yesterday's blog post was on Zach Kleiner, one of our freshmen managers from last season. Today's post will be on Brian Suh, our other freshmen manager whose birthday also happens to be today (happy birthday BSuh). Like Zach, Brian was recruited over Facebook, and upon joining the program, we immediately noticed Brian took advantage of the immense amount of free food the program had to offer.

He had a big appetite but the thing that separated Brian from the rest is that he always finished meals with an empty plate. He put a lot on there, but he finished it all. His confidence and ability to execute his dining gameplan was impressive. As a result, myself, Rob Cross, and Nick Souder wanted Brian to put his abilities to the test. We wanted him to take on the Big Roost.

For those who don't know what the Big Roost is, it was a challenge at Rooster's BBQ (a now out of business restaurant) in which the person has to eat a 72 ounce steak, 1 pound potato, texas toast, and a salad in 1 hour. We were confident Brian could complete the task so on December 17, 2012 myself, Zach, Rob, Nick, and Rafi Goldman, our final manager stepped into Rooster's with Brian. It was showtime.

However, before we got to the restaurant Brian was busy preparing for the big day. After consulting with our strength and conditioning coach, Curtis Turner, Brian's plan of attack was as follows: a relatively big breakfast to stretch the stomach, followed by non-stop hydration throughout the rest of the day. Brian was pissing every 10 minutes the entire afternoon because clearly his bladder isn't as big as his stomach. After the preparations were over, we arrived at Rooster's to present Brian Suh as the 104th challenger to the Big Roost.

Upon arrival we were hoping that there would be an extensive crowd at the restaurant but there were about 5 other customers there. We really wanted to create an encouraging, loud, home-plate advantage for Brian, but instead the crowd was more like one you'd expect at a Vandy football game when Robbie Caldwell was the head coach. Anyway, once we got settled, I claimed the rights to live tweet the event so in the remainder of this post I will re-post my tweets (and accompanying photos from that time), and go through our collective thought process at each point in the journey. Enjoy.

NOTE: Bold type is the actual tweet, regular type is additional thoughts

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Brian has the appetite of an ox and is confident in his ability to conquer the big roost. Here he is in anticipation

Right now we have just settled into the restaurant. We have placed our orders and they have started preparing the Big Roost. Everybody is trying to keep the atmosphere light and jovial, but we all know the seriousness of the task at hand, and we don't want Brian to lose focus. His eyes are like lasers in this photo, penetrating and fearless.

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A bit of background on the contest. 103 have tried and 98 have failed. Expectations are high. Brian wants on the wall 

This tweet is pretty self-explanatory. The odds were long, but the hopes large.

Brian just headed to the bathroom for the 3rd time in 15 min. Being properly hydrated is a key component to tackling this challenge

During each of Brian's trips to the restroom, we had somebody accompany him. As I said above, not only did he need a lot of water during the day, but he needed confidence throughout. Conquering the Big Roost was going to have to be a team effort. You can't leave the man alone, he needs constant encouragement when facing such a daunting task.

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When you see the roost for the first time, you are immediately struck by its largesse. Obviously, 72 ounces is a lot but when you actually see it, it feels like even more. Once the food arrived, we started talking strategy. There was some different components to the meal, but one of the biggest challenges is the fact that you could not cut the steak at all before the hour started so you have to account for the time it takes to cut the steak into your calculation. It was not something we had prepared for.

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Brian eyes the Big Roost. The roost is trembling in fear

Just look into his eyes in this photo. There is no fear, just intense focus and unwavering confidence. He looks like Vladimir Putin here, the eyes are stone cold and filled with contempt. Except instead of fighting capitalism, Brian is fighting a dead cow. A cow that no longer breathes, and is no longer living, but poses more of a threat to Brian than it did when it was alive. It now has the potential to wreak havoc on his digestive system and also turn him into another victim to go on the wall. Brian is determined to defeat the dead meat.

Brian sends the roost back!!!!!!! It is not cooked enough to his likely. The roost is back on the grill as we await its rentry

Part of the contest allows the contestant to take one test bite to see if the steak is cooked to their liking. I think the steak was fine, but this was a power play on Brian's part. The roost was getting set to dig in and stand its ground as the hour ticked off, but Brian threw a curveball. It's like the eating challenge equivalent of icing the kicker, so back to the grill the roost went.

The rest of the table: myself, @robcross924 @thenicksouder and @ hesonfire28 just got our meals. 2 brisket a, 1 ribs and 1 order of wings

We got our meals at this time. My brisket came with fries and mac and cheese, and this was after I got a 10 order of wings and before I ordered my banana pudding. Meals like that are the reason I am currently dieting today.

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At this point the excitement is palpable. We have waited for the roost to be cooked to Brian's liking and the nervous tension has been replaced by palpable excitement. It's like the start of a new season when every team thinks they have a chance to win the championship, that is how we felt now. That we had a champion in our midst.

Brian brings a 2nd plate in to make cutting the meat a bit easier. He is using a combo of A1 sauce and the house BBQ sauce on the steak

This was Brian's first strategic decision. As you can see above, the 72 ouncer took up most of the plate so Brian wanted to rearrange it and make cutting easier therefore saving valuable time that could be used to chow down. Brian's choice of sauces was standard, but interesting because he slathered his steak in sauce. When you are eating 72 ounces of meat, you need flavoring, but steak sauces are high calorie condiments so at the time I was questioning if he had achieved the right flavor/caloric balance.

Brian has mastered art of multi tasking: chewing piece of steak while simultaneously cutting next piece. And he just took his 1st breath!!

At this point Brian just sprints out of the gate. He is on a roll and pursuing a very aggressive mentality. He wants to get out ahead of the the competition and never look back. Pacing is not part of the equation right now. He is trying to set such a high bar of excellence that he eats so much so fast, he can just coast to the finish line. This hot start comes back to kill him later on.

new strategy in place, Brian just ripping the steak off w/his mouth and cutting out the middleman (the fork). It's like eating pizza he says

This was just primordial barbarism. Brian was eating like a lion who just rips up overmatched animals with his mouth. He had no regard for the steak at this stage, his teeth were ripping into it shamelessly. There was no dignity, no neatly cut pieces to be consumed at a leisurely pace. Just shreds of meat being thrown into his mouth all at once. The caring Brian we all knew had disappeared at this point.

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Now Brian is sandwiching the large steaks between pieces of Texas Toast. He's innovative

After eating straight steak for awhile, Brian's taste buds are sick of it. He needs to try something else. So he plasters on pieces of Texas Toast loaded with butter onto the steak. This will help him get over the feeling of fear that he can't eat the steak any longer and to rekindle the fire we saw earlier where he was full steam ahead.

I've put a table wide ban on telling jokes. If Brian laughs he has higher probability of both choking on his food and losing pace

At the time of this tweet, there had been some resident comedians in the audience who didn't realize the seriousness of the task at hand. When you laugh while eating you are more likely to choke on your food or spit it out because you can't swallow. In a race where every second is precious, we can't afford an amateur comedy hour.

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LOOOK AT HIM GOOOOOOOOOOO. Ripping steak like the karate kid rips wood

Brian starts ripping the steak apart with his hands. All those hours of weight lifting and those awful looking protein shakes he makes for himself start to pay off.

He's discarding gristle and fat off the steak like a stripper discards her clothes. Just rapid fire dismantling

You don't need to eat the fat or gristle as part of the challenge so Brian gets rid of them. He realizes he only has room for the essentials. He can't spend time eating fat, he needs meat. He's basically decided to pursue a thick girl (the well-cut steak here) versus a fat one (the blubbery exterior) at this point.

Brian's mom just texted him about ordering his textbooks for next semester ASAP. I don't even know how to respond to this blasphemy

In response to hearing about his moms text, Brian says "it's so Asian of her to do that during dinner"

I was disgusted at this series of events. Her son is in the middle of conquering the biggest challenge of his life, and she's thinking about books? We are talking about books (Allen Iverson voice)! It's not like this was the day before classes started. We had just finished finals 2 days ago, the semester was three weeks away, and she's thinking about books?! LET BRIAN LIVE!!!! AND EAT!!!

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Brian is halfway through the competition. We have 30 minutes remaining

We all feel good about the progress Brian has made thus far. We estimate he has finished over half the steak to this point but if you look at him now, you can see the early signs of fatigue setting in. He went hard the first half hour, but now does he have enough left in the tank for the second one? We are all skeptical.

Brian is taking some vry deep, labored breaths right now. Showing his 1st signs of fatigue. And on a side note I just got my banana pudding

Brian really starts slowing down here. He is breathing like our team after running a series of 22's. Out of breath, borderline wheezing, almost sick. But this was a time of joy for me as I got my dessert!

Sweet Home Alabama comes blaring over the speakers. It's gettin grooovvvvvyyyyy in here

I just randomly decided to comment on the music selection at this time.

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Brian takes a quick break from the steak to dig into his dressing less salad

Smartly, Brian decides not to waste any calories on salad dressing. He goes to the salad not only to vary the taste but also give his jaws a much needed rest. Salad is much easier to chew and digest so this is a slight recovery period for him before going back to the steak.

Brian has his head down as his jaw looks to be functioning at about 50%. Please send me tweets of encouragement to read to him

At this time, Zach Kleiner channels his inner Coach Franklin and is yelling at Brian to take this challenge six seconds at a time. One bite at a time. Worry about 6 seconds at a time. He is relentlessly propagandizing the message to Brian who is doing his best to take it to heart. A few moments later, Nate Watkins tweets in "make sure he's just focused on being 1-0 tonight. Tomorrow doesn't matter right now".
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 TEN MINUTES REMAINING!!!!!!! Can he do it????? 

With 50 minutes passed, Brian has made significant progress. The steak has taken a massive hit, but like the Russian Army under Stalin, it just has more manpower than Brian does at this point. There is still a good amount of steak left, and clearly Brian is mentally and physically exhausted. Optimism is low.

AND A MASSIVE BRIAN CHANT STARTS TO BREAK OUT. He has quickly become a fan favorite and he just got a pat on the back from a hot girl!

This is the crowd's last stand to will Brian to victory. The chant starts out organically before spreading like wildfire to the other 5 customers in the joint. They come to the table and start joining in, chanting "BRI-AN, BRI-AN, BRI-AN". Unfortunately when the hot girl pats Brian on the back his jaw is still chewing on a piece of steak so he can't ask for her number. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity of the evening.

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It's an uphill battle now. 2 minute warning

Reality is starting to set in and the mood becomes somber.

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The roost wins :(

The agony of defeat.

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We are heading to the scale to see exactly how much steak he ate. 9.5 oz left so he ate 62.5 ounces of steak in 1 hr 

A remarkably valiant effort

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bitty Bit Bit

At Vanderbilt, our managerial staff is incredibly diverse in their backgrounds, basketball experiences, and how they came into the position. Some managers like Rob CrossNick Souder and our current freshman manager Zach Hamer reach out to the program before arriving on campus. Others have connections to the coaching staff that get them on board, but some are randomly recruited through email or Facebook. That is how Zach Kleiner joined the program.

At the beginning of last year, I posted in the "Vanderbilt Class of 2016" Facebook group about openings on the managerial staff. One of the responses was Zach. These interviews are pretty informal and usually take place over a mediocre lunch from Rand Dining Hall. Some meetings are group meetings, others are one on one. My meeting with Zach was mano a mano.

The first thing that struck me about Zach was the fact that he was actually in college. Zach is about 5'6" with freckles, red hair, and a face that looks closer in age to a middle schooler than a college freshman. Upon finding out that Zach was a fellow Jew, I almost asked when his Bar Mitzvah was but refrained. He strikes a diminutive pose and was rather quiet. I told him what the job entailed and then we kind of just sat there in silence. I wasn't blown away by any stretch because we rarely spoke during the meal, but at the time there weren't many other candidates for the job so I told Rob we should look at hiring him.

Ultimately we did hire him, and while he was quiet during our lunch, he quickly conveyed his boisterous personality upon joining the program. He was a fireball of energy. The great thing about Zach is that you could ask him to do something, and his eyes would get wide, he'd nod his head, and say yes, then get to work. He was always happy to be doing the job, and as someone who had been through the ringer for 3 years, I couldn't always match his enthusiasm. The big test for Zach though was the first time he hung out with the players in a social setting.

As I mentioned, Zach is small. He is like the textbook example of the guy that every girl thinks is just so adorable, but who is permanently stuck in the friend zone because they won't date someone shorter than them. Across campus you would frequently see girls run up to him and shout "Kleinnerrr!!!" before hugging him then asking for an introduction to Shelby Moats.

In this post I discussed the tenuous social status of managers on campus. We are lower on the social rung than both frat guys and athletes, and most of the time guys find it much cooler that we work for the team than girls do. It doesn't help when you are a short Jewish ginger either, but Zach makes up for that with his outlandish personality and he was put to the test by the guys early.

Because of how young he looks, Zach was the butt of many jokes early in his career. Managers get clowned on a good amount because in the basketball hierarchy the only other person on our level of influence and sway is Ricky Reno, the head maintenance man at Memorial Gym, but he even holds more clout than we do. So Zach got thrown some verbal punches but he responded very well and conducted himself with the right degree of brushing it off while also standing up for himself and he was immediately accepted into the basketball family.

Upon acceptance, Zach worked his way through the gym with a smile and positive attitude every day. I honestly felt horrible when I was at practice and in a bad mood because Zach was always in a good mood. On our trip to Auburn, I was particularly exhausted but Zach was so positive, I ultimately went along with him and started smiling so hard my face hurt. His positive personality even brought personal recognition from Coach Stallings.

As I detailed here, establishing a relationship with the big man is an uphill battle. It took me 3 and a 1/2 years for Coach Stallings to laugh at my jokes and fix my jumpshot, both watershed moments. Now, he greets me with a warm embrace and a firm handshake. Heart melting stuff. This year though he actually referred to Zach by name on a number of occasions, a big step, though coach has yet to call him by his nickname "Little Bit", we still hold out hope he might do so.

So while Zach didn't jump off the page as a promising candidate at Rand, he turned into a spectacular diamond in the rough manager. As the man personally responsible for finding and hiring him, I take a measure of pride in Zach's success, it's like I'm leaving behind a legacy of unathletic, Jewish managers for him to uphold. I have the utmost faith he will.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Miss Debbie: The Protector of the Program's Purity

Everybody has a vision of the Southern Belle. Blonde hair, blue eyes, skinny, and with a touch of southern twang. Fast forward 40 years and you have Miss Debbie, a woman who fills many roles for the men's basketball program. Miss Debbie serves as the program's secretary and Coach Stallings' personal assistant. She manages the coaching offices, organizes our camps, and keeps track of the nitty-gritty operational details of the program. After our former secretary, Molly, left for another job, Miss Debbie filled in and has become the permanent replacement.

Miss Debbie's second responsibility is handling ticket requests for the players and staff. A day before game-day Miss Debbie will come to practice and take down the names of the people who we leave tickets for. Some players always used their full ticket allotment and others sometimes didn't use any tickets, but if you wanted your family to get into a game, you needed to go through Miss Debbie. This role as manager of the tickets segways into Miss Debbie's most important role: the protector of the program's purity.

While Miss Debbie does not conduct background checks on the names given to her, she gives on-site examinations of those picking up tickets that would make the TSA proud. She is not looking for guns or Swiss Army knives, but rather seeking out a color scheme and logo. Because in Miss Debbie's world, you need to be a Vandy fan with no traces of evidence to the contrary. Those wearing the colors of the opposing team or in anyway affiliated with them will not gain entry into the game. It doesn't matter if it was Rod's mom or a distant friend of mine, if you violate the color code, she isn't giving you a ticket.

For Miss Debbie, the family section is personal. She sits in the front of the section and everybody else must comply with the rules. One time, fellow manager Nick Souder left tickets to a game versus Western Kentucky to friends of his who were students at WKU. These friends were forewarned to dress appropriately and showed up in all Black outfits that would make your neighborhood criminal proud.

However, one had a lanyard with the letters WKU on it hanging out of their pocket. With laser like focus, Miss Debbie zeroed in on the serious infraction. A traitor was about to enter our home turf. This was an affront to everything Miss Debbie stands for, and she didn't back down. The friends were denied tickets and forced to purchase their way into the game.

An enemy was staring us down, encroaching on our domain, and the will of one woman stopped them in their tracks, a truly remarkable accomplishment. As long as Miss Debbie is handling our tickets, the only people let into the family section will be those who wear the Black and Gold. I worry about the day she retires, when the guardian to our fortress leaves a gaping hole and an open invitation for others to attack, who will stand in her place and emerge from the shadows to protect the very essence of our program's being.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Other's Men's Basketball Team

For those loyal readers of the blog (if there are any), sorry for the lack of posts, but been busy trying to find a job and am still looking (if anybody reading this has any connections in the NBA or NBA D-League feel free to reach out), but wanted to do some more blogging cause I really enjoyed doing it.

Today's post is on the other men's basketball team at Vanderbilt. This team doesn't play on ESPN, have uniforms with their names on them, or get a scholarship to attend school. This team doesn't play in games, they just practice. THEY DON'T EVEN EAT AT MCGUGIN! This team is the women's basketball practice squad.

The practice squad as they are known around Memorial Gym is made up of guys on campus who absolutely love to play the game of basketball. Some of them have tried out for the men's team in the past, others have just always been a part of the practice squad, but however they got there, one thing unites them all: their undying loyalty to the women's program. Another thing that unites them is their lack of ego. Many guys would not want to be part of the practice squad because they don't want to get schooled by a girl as prehistoric as that philosophy sounds, it's true. To be on the practice squad you have to be willing to get crossed up by Jasmine Lister or beasted in the post by Tiffany Clarke, and not everybody can handle that.

Their job entails showing up each day after class, and on weekends to practice against the women. They help out in drills, play pickup with the team, but most importantly run the scout team offense before each game. As opposed to a practice uniform, the guys practice in raggedy old T-shirts that change based on the color of the upcoming opponent (i.e. orange for Tennessee, blue for Kentucky, etc). They help to prepare the women for games and work closely with the coaching staff as they run an offense they will never actually get to execute in a real game.

At least for members of our pseudo-scout team, the "Gold Bombers" like Nate Watkins and Carter Josephs, there is the slight chance they might be able to record a trillion in each game or perhaps a minor statistic like a field goal attempt. However, while the practice squad doesn't play in any games, they do show up to every single women's basketball game... even the exhibitions.

Despite making the Tournament for I believe 14 straight years, the women's team does not draw huge crowds for the most part, outside of games versus Kentucky and Tennessee. While the rest of the student body is unfortunately pretty apathetic towards women's basketball, these guys are rabid fans. They sit in the front row, slap the gymnasium floor, and taunt the opposing players, and for the most part people throughout the gym can hear what they say. They even paint up for the big games and occasionally make signs. They are die-hards.

For their efforts in practice and on game-day, they are rewarded with staying in shape, some free gear, but mainly in their relationships with the players on the team. The players all appreciate the efforts these guys bring to practice each day and their devotion to the program, and many of the players and practice squadders are good friends. For a job with no pay and a lot of time to commit, these guys make the most out of it, and for what it's worth I think they should be honored on senior night along with the team managers.

So this blog post is dedicated to Harold Hichez-Nunez, Morgan Stevens, Austin Wilson, Jacob Teichner, James Quick, Matt Bojanowski, Bradley Roberts, Lester Primus, and whoever else has dedicated their time to the women's program (and also organized highly competitive Friday afternoon pickup games).

Friday, June 21, 2013


With seemingly every type of wife getting their own TV show these days, I decided it was time for the Vanderbilt Basketball wives to get some love as well. So after a lot of back and forth, deciding whether to do this post, after talking to Eric McClellan, he encouraged me to go ahead with it. So this post looks at the women behind the scenes of Vanderbilt basketball. Every man has a woman in their life that has some significant impact over them, and this post looks at those (in)directly affiliated with the men's basketball team. Enjoy meeting this cast of unique and beautiful characters.

So I'm going to start off this post by introducing... well nobody, because I'm not actually writing this post. The only reason I even created this post is because some of our players begged me not to do, so I wanted to picture the reactions on some of their faces or what they were saying as they read the first paragraph: "That's low bro, this shit is not funny" and so on. It's basically the same reason I did the April Fool's post on Kedren Johnson. So for those of you who actually believed I would share your private lives on my blog, all I have to say is "Gotcha bro(s)".

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Three Amigos: Nick, Hagan, and Kasey

Last week, during the blog's list week, I did a post on the 10 coolest people I've Met Through Managing, but purposefully left two people off of that list, because I couldn't adequately describe them in a paragraph or two. Those two people are Hagan Southworth and Kasey McRay, our manager Nick Souder's best friends from growing up. Kasey is a rising senior at Louisville and manager of their basketball team, while Hagan is at Kentucky majoring (I think) in something having to do with horses or equine care. I can't quite be sure, because academics are rarely a discussion around Hagan.

These two guys are both memorable for me, but in completely different ways because they are almost exact opposites as people with Nick straddling the middle with a slight lean toward being more like Hagan. I will probably stay in touch with them both going forward, but more so with Hagan because he spends most of his time on his feet as opposed to his knees like Kasey does.

When describing Hagan, just imagine an even more outrageous version of myself. We get along so well because we both really don't care what other people think of us. We are going to be who we are and if you want to be around us, great, if not then that's fine too. We aren't going to change who we are for anybody, and we both have impeccable storytelling abilities. Not only can we both tell good stories, but we will both do things solely for the sake of the story involved with doing such a thing, not because we have any actual interest in doing it. Like the time Hagan decided to flirt with a girl who was rather unattractive before concluding "well her body is a solid seven and her face a solid two, so I guess she's a 4.5." Meeting Marshall Henderson falls into this category as well, although we both have a fascination for Marshall because he embodies everything we wish to be and gets away with it. Just Marshall Henderson doing Marshall Henderson things.

Hagan is the kind of friend you have where nothing truly surprises you when you hear from or about him. If Nick were to tell me Hagan was put in a chokehold while attempting to break into a federal prison, I can't say I would honestly be surprised. I'd just be like, "O Hagan, being Hagan" kind of like people said with Manny Ramirez and "Manny being Manny" with the difference being Manny was getting paid millions of dollars to be Manny while Hagan makes most of his income betting on horses at the Keeneland racetrack.
The guys around the team like Hagan for the same reasons they like me, cause we are both honest and genuine, nothing about either of us is fake, and they like Kasey for exactly the opposite reasons.

Kasey is sort of like our head manager Rob Cross. I have never seen Kasey work with the Louisville team, but can only assume he would be like Rob, based on his interactions with our players. While Hagan wouldn't be caught dead kissing ass (unless of course he thought it would make a great story), Kasey is the king of showing the players how great they are and showering them with praise. He is like their homeboy, and treats them with a sort of reverence most people treat their idols with. And last year during our Rites of Spring music festival was exhibit A.

Kasey and Hagan came down to Vanderbilt for the festival, and when some of the basketball players had people over in one of their dorms, Kasey was all over it. He kept telling Festus Ezeli "Bro, you are so good bro, you are so much better than any other center. You are going to the NBA, it's happening. You are going to make it" when he wasn't simultaneously telling Rod Odom, "Rod you are my boy. You're my boy for life. You're my boy" every five minutes. At one point Steve Tchiengang said to him in his deep, baritone voice, "Hey man, shut your mouth. You are talking too much." That didn't quiet Kasey down because we left the room soon after.

Kasey's dap-fest continued when we went out. To give someone dap is to basically acknowledge their presence and say whats-up to them. I personally feel like a person should give me know more than two daps in a night: one when they first see me and one when they leave, but Kasey and one of our other managers Rafi Goldman are dapaholics. They dap like nothing I've ever seen. We get to the club. Dap. I take a leak. Dap. I talk to a girl, mid conversation. Dap. I get dapped out around them, it's just too much.

While that is one side to Kasey, there is another, contradictory side, and that is the superfan side. I admire Kasey because he is the most steadfast supporter of an athletic program I have ever seen. He lives, breathes, and eats Louisville sports and his tweets and Facebook statuses serve as a constant reminder to the rest of us that Louisville has the best athletics program in the country, and it is hard to argue, based on the year they have had (Sugar Bowl win, women's basketball national runner ups, baseball in Omaha, and men's basketball Big East and national champs). And anyone that dares cross the beloved Cardinal red is in for a lashing out, like former Kentucky star Doron Lamb who dared to predict UConn would beat Louisville and after Louisville won, was promptly called a retard by Kasey.

Kasey wants to be a college coach and I have no doubt he will be a good one. He is passionate and knows basketball, but most importantly he believes in the place he works for and what he does and that is the key to building a culture anywhere.

So while they didn't make the list of the 10 coolest people I met due to space constraints, consider Hagan and Kasey numbers 11 and 12 on that list.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I've Been Everywhere Man

As the last post during List Week, this post looks at the extensive travelling done by the men's basketball team. Being a manager has allowed me to see places I may not otherwise get to, and I have seen a great deal of this country, particularly the south as a result. So in this post, I break down the mileage I have logged in my two years travelling with the team by reviewing our schedule from the 2011-12 seasons. Check out just how far we have gone (NOTE: The mileage only includes the miles it takes to fly/drive to a given town, so bus rides from airports to hotels/arenas/etc are not included):

2011-12 SEASON

Legends Classic, East Rutherford, New Jersey: 1772 miles round trip

@ Louisville; Louisville, Kentucky: 348 miles round trip

@Davidson; Charlotte, North Carolina: 818 miles round trip

@Marquette; Milwaukee, Wisconsin: 1120 miles round trip

@South Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina: DID NOT GO -- SICK

@Alabama; Tuscaloosa, Alabama: 494 miles round trip

@Arkansas; Fayetteville, Arkansas: 1058 miles round trip

@Florida; Gainesville, Florida: 1156 miles round trip

@Ole Miss; Oxford, Mississippi: 468 miles round trip

@Georgia; Athens, Georgia: 610 miles round trip

@Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky: 426 miles round trip

@Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee: 360 miles round trip

SEC Tournament; New Orleans, Louisiana: 1068 miles round trip

NCAA Tournament; Albuquerque, New Mexico: 2434 miles round trip

TOTAL = 12,132 Miles traveled for me during 2011-12 season

2012-13 SEASON

@Oregon; Nashville to Salt Lake City then Salt Lake to Eugene Oregon: 2407 miles one way

Returning from Oregon, AKA the trip from hell, which you can read about here:

Eugene, Oregon to Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles to Nashville: 3,077 miles one way

@Old Spice Classic; Orlando, Florida: 1378 miles round trip

@Xavier; Cincinnatti, Ohio: 542 miles round trip

@Arkansas; Fayetteville, Arkansas: 1058 miles round trip

@South Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina: 882 miles round trip

@Missouri; Columbia, Missouri: 864 miles round trip

@Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee: 360 miles round trip

@LSU; Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 1174 miles round trip

@Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky: 426 miles round trip

@Mississippi State; Starkville, Mississippi: 572 miles round trip

@Auburn; Auburn, Alabama: 604 miles round trip

@Florida; Gainesville, Florida: 1156 miles round trip

@SEC Tournament; Nashville, Tennessee: 11.4 miles total for 3 games there

TOTAL = 14,511.4 Miles traveled

So to sum it up, over the course of two seasons travelling with the team, I have logged 26,643 miles of travel for team related activities. That is the equivalent to about 9.2 trips cross country from New York City to San Francisco. I have been to 21 different cities across the US (literally), from East Rutherford, New Jersey to Eugene, Oregon. I have seen places I never knew existed before arriving at Vanderbilt or never imagined I'd ever end up in (this primarily applies to Starkville and Oxford, Mississippi).

This wasn't a tour of America's most well known cities or the nicest, but I got to see parts of the country I hadn't been before (and I've been to many, as I went on a bus trip across the US while in high school) and ones I probably won't end up in again. Being a part of a college basketball team is not only a unique experience in seeing what a high-major Division I program is like, but also in getting to explore the country. As a manager, I got to see more of the places we went than most of our players because during down time, I didn't need to rest up for the game, I could actually do and see things.

Some of the highlights of my travels include:

  • Hot air ballooning with my dad in New Mexico
  • Getting invited by the front office of the Milwaukee Bucks to attend a practice while in Milwaukee
  • A night out in Gainesville, Florida
  • Walking around Oregon's campus and their athletic facilities 
  • Meeting the different groups of people I talk about in this post and in this one
  • The heated pool in Baton Rouge with spraying hoses
  • Disney World
  • Bus tour of New Orleans and a po-boi sandwich there, as well as the World War II Museum
  • Skyline Chili in Cincinnati
  • The Muhammad Ali Museum in Louisville
  • The 9/11 Memorial in New York City
I've been everywhere man, and here is a map to prove it (I created a Google Map, with the places I've been marked off, it's pretty cool if I may say so myself).