Decided to give the world a bit of an inside look at what happens during the NCAA tournament. The media covers what the basketball team does. So as a band member, our story is a bit different.
Day 1 is actually like day 3345 of this process or so it seems. The basketball teams have to do their magic and make it all the way to the NCAA tournament. Then the band holds their own "selection show" to find out who gets to travel. When you can only take 29 per band (2x this year) that means not everyone get to go.
The final rosters are posted, now to wait for the actual selection show. After waiting and waiting the yellow band (my band traveling with the women) get to travel to South Bend, Indiana. Then we wait for our final travel information. This year it come right after 10 pm and we left at 12 pm the next day.
Our day starts by having to load the bus. This is a difficult enough task on a normal band trip. But we also travel with the cheer squad (+equipment) and all the luggage. So starts the never ending game of tetris. By the end of the trip we get really good. So far we have already played twice (the second time added the element of unloading on the tarmac straight from the plane).
You might ask why we have so much luggage. Including cheer, we all have uniforms to wear at the game besides our everyday clothes. Plus if the team works their magic, our trip will be extended. Yes, it is quite difficult packing for a trip that could vary from 3-6 days. But hey, we can deal with the extra stress of packing if that means the teams do well and advance.
I have been asked many times how we get to where we are going. Well we start by busing down to Sioux Falls to the airport. Then we get our boarding passes and head to our chartered flight. For many, traveling for the NCAA tournament is the first time they have ever been on a plane. So stay in band kids, it will bring you places.
The entire plane is filled with those going on the trip. Band, cheer, and dance get the very back of the plane. The rest is full of the team, coaches and families, donors, and media personnel. The plane is not full, but it is a neat experience to be connected to everyone on the flight with you.
I have traveled enough in my time. But this is the first time I have been in such a modern plane. Each seat had a touch screen with access to movies, tv shows, games (which you can play with other passengers), flight information, and even a usb port to charge your phone. The flight was just a little over an hour, but it went by even faster with this modern upgrade.
We get to stay in a hotel, this one has a large number of windows. Plus there is a Starbucks in the lobby. What is not to love about this hotel? Has a decent pool, food options near by, and even close to public transit. Oh yeah, and it looks pretty darn amazing.
Oh did I mention that the hotel over looks the St. Joseph river. We lucked out and this is the view from out window. Others are not so lucky and get to gaze out over the lobby.
In search of a place to eat, a few of us took the really scenic route. We got to see some of the residential part of South Bend. Zig-zagging our way over the river, we saw balloons, birds, a lot of lime green bikes, and the very scary looking bottom of the St. Joseph river. Though we did not find any place fancy to eat, our walking tour allowed us to see a bit of the city not geared toward the tourist.
What do we get to do tomorrow? Well that is up to us. The team will go to the arena to practice and talk with the media. As a band we are going to tour the campus of Notre Dame. Then around the time of the men's game we will find a place to sit and watch and cheer on the Jacks.