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Nov. 19, 2007
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - These are the final two journal entries from Mezie Uzochukwu and Luke Payne chronicling the men's basketball team's journey out West and to Alaska. We hope you enjoyed an inside look at the trip.
After settling in Fairbanks, the team came to the conclusion that is way too cold for any of us to live here. Going out required wearing our gray sweat suits, which included a hood, and our very large overcoats that were zipped all the way up. To top it off, it was rare to find a teammate who wasn't wearing a toboggan. What surprised us was that it wasn't even snowing at that point in time. It started snowing on Thursday and has not stopped since. Cars had to be plugged in electrical heaters in order for it to start the next morning. On the way to and from places members of the team tried their best to catch snow in their mouths.
Each morning, we were required to eat breakfast. On the first game day, we had a continental breakfast which included assorted pastries and waffles. Our first game didn't start until 6:00 p.m., but we had to get up early so we could eat breakfast because they stopped serving at 9:00 a.m. It wasn't easy getting up, either, because the sun didn't come up until around 10:00 a.m. On the flipside, it was easy going to sleep because the sun went down at around 3:30-4:00 p.m. It messed up our body clock completely, but we got used to it. For games the second and third games, we were treated to a big breakfast which included French toast, eggs, sausage, bacon, etc. The list went on and on. Unfortunately, we couldn't eat as much as we wanted to because we knew tough games ahead of us.
It was fun playing in the Top of the World Classic. We had a banquet to jumpstart the tourney and we had an opportunity to play against some top-notch talent and get better as a team. We experienced growing pains, but that brought us closer and closer each time. You could see the positive attitude of the team as the tournament went on. Everyone was involved in some sort of way including the coaches, trainers, media and families that came along. Our host family was great. They provided us with the best support possible. Not to forget the tremendous cheerleading squad we were given. They cheered for us from the time we arrived in Fairbanks until the final buzzer in our last game. That really helped us a lot. The fans were also great. Post-game routines included autographing t-shirts and mini-basketballs for the little children that came to watch the tournament. I had a great time and I hope to do it again in the near future.
As I am writing for the final time, our travel party is currently sitting in the Cincinnati airport waiting on our delayed flight back to Charlotte. It's been a long haul to get home. We've currently been up for about 30 straight hours with only a little restless sleep on a couple flights from Alaska and Salt Lake City to our current location. I'm pretty sure that no one on the team wants to see an airport for a long time. Unfortunately for us, I think we have to go on another road trip in less than a week. Despite the travel frustrations today, the trip has been a lot of fun.
In conclusion, this has been a memorable week for the good and the bad. Obviously, the basketball games didn't go as we would have liked, but we learned a lot about our team and what we have to work on. On the other hand, the trip as a whole was a tremendous experience that I know I, and the rest of the guys, will never forget. For a couple of people, it was just their first time flying, many others first time to the west coast, and for most the first time that they've ever been to 49th state of Alaska. Whether it was Nick hitting his head on the restaurant ceiling, Byrd accidently mooning a crowd of 200 (earlier entry) or Rashawn and Rory's constant comic acts, there are many funny moments to look back upon. In a little less than two weeks we traveled close to 8,000 miles and got to see and do a lot of things that we may never do again. Hopefully, Mezie and I have been able to give somewhat of an idea what the trip has been like. Thanks for reading.