Monday, March 31, 2008

Unexpected Occurrances

I had an unexpected chance to sing the National Anthem at Kent State again this past weekend. I sang for Mid-American Conference women's gymnastics championship, which Kent State hosted for the fifth time on Saturday, March 29. It was certainly a different experience singing for the meet versus a basketball game for several reasons: first, when I sang at the men's basketball games, as I mentioned before I sang at center court with no one else on the floor; not even the teams. At this meet, I was on the floor with seven teams. I wish I could've gotten a picture of it. I'll have to check with the University Photographer to see if he got any. Because all seven teams were on the floor, I couldn't stand in the middle, so I stood just in front and to the left of the area used for the floor exercise (near the bottom left corner of the picture of myself!). Second, not only were the teams already on the floor, but all seven had been introduced as well, something that never happened at any of the basketball games I sang at except the Roosevelt game. If I sang with the teams on the floor (which I did at KSU women's games and all Lake Erie College games), I sang before the teams were introduced. I think I like singing after the player introductions just because it flows into the game better. I'm not sure how I can explain that, but it just seems like a better place to fit it all in, plus the home fans are standing anyway due to player introductions.

As for my singing, I thought it went pretty well. It wasn't my best, but certainly not bad. I was just thrilled to get the chance to sing at a conference championship. I got an e-mail from Chris, the guy in charge of special events at the MAC Center, earlier in the week. I was a bit surprised to see an e-mail from him at all, but once I read it, I sent an immediate YES response back. Not only was it a conference championship, but I've never sung for a gymnastics meet ever, so I guess now I can add it to the list of sporting events I've sung at!

The meet itself was actually very enjoyable. I hadn't been to any gymnastics meet since 2004 when I would go to the meets because I had a friend, Earline, who was on the team. It's SO much more fun to go to sporting events when you go with someone or you know someone on the team. I mean we weren't best friends or anything, but we knew each other from church and the LDS student organization. I ran into her at the meet on Saturday as her sister is now a freshman on KSU's team. If she didn't remember exactly who I was, she certainly didn't act like it. It was good to see her again. I always had a high opinion of her as a person and wondered where she went after I left Kent State in 2004 and went to BYU-Idaho. Turns out she's back in Florida studying something I'm somewhat familiar with: sport management. My aunt has a phD in it and teaches at Old Dominion University, so I'm familiar with it at least, plus I helped here and there getting surveys ready to send and hearing about the results while she was working on her doctrate at Ohio State in the late 1990's. Anyway, Kent State did REALLY well at the meet. They ended up winning by almost two points. In gymnastics, where scores are typically decided in tenths and even hundredths of points, winning by an entire point is a pretty "easy" win. Winning by two is a rout (earlier in the season KSU won a meet by six points...that would be like winning a basketball game by almost 100 points I think!). Not only that, but Kent State had individual winners on all four events. About the only thing they didn't win was the individual all-around. I'd say that was a pretty dominating performance! The only things I didn't really like were the ushers (well, one in particular) and the layout of the floor. Because all the event areas were set up, the lower level seating was all retracted, so only the balconies were available. That was OK for most of the meet, but things that got anywhere near the lower wall were unseen by people in the balcony. The vault in particular was virtually impossible to see without standing up if you were sitting on the east side of the MAC Center (opposite the press area). As for the one usher...geez these people take their little areas a bit too seriously. I was standing in one of the corner areas snapping a picture of the floor and was there all of 30 seconds when the nearby usher was like "can you find your seat?" "This area is for her," as she pointed to the camerawoman I was standing a few feet from. I was just like "I know. I'm just getting a quick picture." I wasn't even IN the area, I was behind it and it's not like I was blocking anyone's view or a walkway, nor was I there for an excessive amount of time. That happened when I took pictures at the Akron game back in January too. It's like the ushers establish their little kingdoms in their areas. I understand they are trying to do their job, but how come I can never get an usher to enforce the aisles in the student sections or keep extra rows from forming in front of the bleachers? Hmmmm....But heaven forbid I stand near the camera area for 30 seconds to take a picture!

The only other news of the day was Kent State men's basketball coach Jim Christian resigning to take the job at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth. I was surprised it was to TCU, but not at all surprised he left. We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later. Guess he's going to get paid over twice the amount he was getting paid at Kent ($250,000 per year, highest in the Mid-American Conference) and TCU has better facilities than KSU. It won't be an easy job though. TCU is one of the Mountain West Conference's also-rans and hasn't done squat since 1998, not to mention the fact that it's a major "football school" in football-crazy Texas. Hopefully Jim Christian will have better success turning TCU into a contender than his predecessors at Kent State did at the first post-KSU jobs. Both went to big-name schools (Rutgers and Arkansas) only to end up getting fired at the end. Although coach Christian did great things in maintaining the high level here at Kent, he never had to build a team up from scratch like he will at TCU. Good luck!! Thanks for all the great times at KSU!

Another "good" thing about this is that it's early enough that Kent State can get a new coach and get recruiting without much of a break. Really, the season isn't even over yet, so at least we're not well into the recruiting season when this happened. Also, whenever a school loses a coach like this, it gives them a chance to evaluate the program and where it is and serves as an impetus for improvements in facilities and other ameneties. One thing coach Christian said about TCU that he really liked was their brand-new practice facility for basketball. At KSU, practice is held at the MAC Center, so if the MAC Center is being used for other sports (five teams use the MAC Center during the school year), there really isn't anywhere to hold a true practice. Earlier in March, when the MAC Center hosted the Mid-American Conference wrestling tournament, the men's basketball team had to practice at the KSU Rec & Wellness Center, hardly an ideal place to hold a practice (though it IS a nice facility, don't get me wrong!)! The KSU athletic director has stated he would like to build a practice facility on campus, so maybe this is the thing that gets it rolling. We aren't just competing with MAC schools, but all division I schools. As much as I like the MAC Center as a place to play basketball, it is due for an upgrade or replacement at least for basketball. I'd like to see a new arena/convocation center built and the MAC Center become the home for the volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling teams. Then it could just be the MAC (Memorial Athletic Center). With a renovation, it could be a great place for those three sports and even women's basketball. I'd like to see a new arena built at the corner of Loop Road and Summit Street where several dorms are currently located. They're scheduled to be torn down this summer (small group dorms), so the area would be available. Not only would it be a highly visible location on campus, but it would also be adjacent to several large parking lots. I just don't want them to build a new center out by Dix Stadium. Keep in near the heart of campus!

**Well, I didn't even get to post this and Kent State already has a new coach! Top assistant Geno Ford got promoted on April 2, so it should keep things moving smoothly for KSU!

Notes on pictures: 1. Just me behind the press area at the MAC Center just prior to the Mid-American Conference meet on March 29. 2. Layout of the MAC Center during the gymnastics championship. Can you see where the Kent fans were sitting?

1 comment:

Becky said...

I hear ya about the ushers. Remember that football game where everyone was in the aisles and hundreds of people were smoking and not a cop OR an usher did a thing?? UGH.

Congrats on the singing!! I miss that here...