NEW YORK CITY — The idea of a “bucket list” is a romantic, if not slightly moribund, idea about seeing remarkable things before you kick the bucket. I think this trip to New York with CSU Bakersfield’s men’s basketball team represents that notion to a lot of people.
The Roadrunners will take the court Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against Georgia Tech, member of the famed and formidable Atlantic Coast Conference, in the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament.
While the NIT is the consolation prize for teams that didn’t make the NCAA tournament, the NIT has always provided the luster of playing its semifinals and championship game at a place that many revere as a “Mecca of Basketball.”
In reality, Madison Square Garden is one of those rarefied venues that transcends fussy needs of many sports enthusiasts. A genuine appreciation for the history of sport, or even entertainment, seems to be an inspirational moment for many visiting.
“You name and it has been in the building,” said Matt Turk, the CSUB sports information director, who also has to endure sharing a hotel room with during this trip to New York.
Turk grew up in Queens, has seen many a game or event at The Garden, but this trip is one for that “list.”
For Turk the fact that he’s here with the Roadrunners, as part of a Division I staff, in a historic tournament, are all part of the differentiators for this trip east. There are other places on his list, including Indianapolis Motor Speedway or Daytona Motor Speedway, but this will standout because of his association with the Roadrunners.
What would top it for Turk?
“The only thing remaining for me as an SID is to have CSUB reach Omaha (home of the College World Series) as a participant,” he said.
That’s a strong take for sure.
During my reporting career, I’ve had the opportunity do some interesting things, profile some fascinating people but I’ve never considered what would be on my list.
It would be great to see an Olympic track meet in the Los Angeles Coliseum, maybe take in a Wimbledon, the Masters and I’d even like to experience a Little League World Series. For the most part, I’m just happy to cover a good high school football game.
I can tell you that I could care less about covering anything at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium.
To be honest, the idea of coming to New York City to cover CSUB at Madison Square Garden wasn’t even something I would have ever imagined, but here we are and the moment has been thrilling. From the crazy trip to New York on a chartered plane, complete with spectacularly enthusiastic cheerleaders, to watching how coach Rod Barnes effortlessly moves through the day.
Turk reminded me that sports often presents a path that previously hadn’t been imagined, and that’s certainly true with this trip.
The beauty of sports, however, is that you can determine your path through hard work, hustle and a little bit of luck.
At the end of the day, CSUB has helped a lot of people cross an item of their sports bucket lists, but more importantly has made many believers in what is possible.
(Louis Amestoy is the director of advanced content for American General Media)