"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, June 10, 2011

Warrior Travels: “Preparation”

"In long-range planning for a trip, I think there is a private conviction that it won't happen."

Like Steinbeck, I was insisting on traveling alone on my “Marquette Travels” so I could meet new people and see places along the way that I normally wouldn’t. Meeting up with friends and family was fine. There was no dog to take along, and I doubt a pet would make it through arena security anyway. So, I nicknamed my GPS “Charley” as, next to a dog, a GPS unit is a man’s best friend. I would drive when time allowed, but air travel was also required for necessity’s sake. Finally, although Steinbeck made a point about roughing it by camping in Rocinante, recent revelations show that he enjoyed a few spa days along the way. Thus, I decided to whip out my major hotel card points and stay in urban comfort.

In the end, my itinerary:

  • Would take me to Marquette’s first and last road games of the season.
  • I would travel to the most western games on the schedule and to games on the East Coast.
  • In equal measure, I would visit arenas north and south of the extended Mason-Dixon line.
  • I would spend 16 nights in hotel stays or about $2500 worth if I wasn’t using hotel points.
  • Potentially, 24 different bars were frequented but my memory may be a little hazy.
  • I saw 14 eventual Big Dance teams lace-up their kicks.
  • Fifteen NCAA Division I games were viewed in the regular and post-seasons, 14 of them involving ranked teams, and 10 different ticket purchases would be required to view all of the games.
  • Marquette would finish 2-6 in the 8 games I witnessed, all against ranked opponents. Some of these games represented the lowest lows of the season, while others were the highest highs.
  • In all, I visited six cities, traveling over 6,200 miles. To put that in perspective, that is a hair more than a coast-to-coast drive on US Route 50and back again! Counting the home games I drove up to Milwaukee from Chicago, I estimate that I traveled 7726 miles to see the Warriors play hoops this past season--the rough equivalent of 21 fill-ups, 3 oil changes and $1400 in fuel/oil charges.
Needless to say, this required quite a bit of pre-planning in terms of logistics, emails, phone calls, financials and the day job. But, it was well worth the obsession, and cheaper than a shrink.

"Preparation" is the second entry in a series chronicling the 2010-2011 Marquette hoops season from a fan's unique perspective. If you missed the first entry please click here to read "Travels with Charley: In Search of America".

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