Roadrunner basketball season starts in a month, so I'm gearing up for season number 11 behind the microphone. Of course, with that comes preparation of travel, getting ready to spend the better part of the next five months in airports and hotel rooms, and it also gets me thinking about the last 10 years and some of the better and memorable stories along the way.
I've learned one thing about navigating this country year in and year out, and you never know what lies around the next corner. Or who, for that matter.
We played two seasons ago at UT Pan American, now a WAC member as well. Pan American is located in Edinburg, Texas. A stones-throw from the Mexican border on the southeastern edge of the Lone Star State. The leading bus charter line was booked that weekend, so we ended up with another second-tier company. Not only did the bus smell like it was fresh from the agriculture flea market, the driver didn't speak English and we didn't speak Spanish.
Needless to say, the entire trip comprised of piecemeal-Spanish from those of us gringos with a few years of high school and college Spanish under our belts, and lots of hand signals. We made it work I guess.
I've also witnessed first-hand what happens to California kids when exposed to snow. I watched last year in South Dakota as our leading scorer Stephon Carter was horsing around walking back from dinner in a snowstorm. He hit someone with a snowball then took off running -- onto ice. Right as I was yelling at him to watch for ice, it grabbed ahold of him. I watched him turn some pretty nifty-moves on the basketball floor, but nothing like the falling-down ice dance he did that night. He was okay and the rest of us doubled over laughing.
Earlier that evening, while at that dinner, I was sitting with one of our backup guards Matt Ratto and our team's student-manager. Now the manager sometimes unwittingly speaks without a filter. During a lull in conversation he asks, "So Matt, why is it that you don't play very much?" After my laughter, Matt managed a simple answer "If I knew that you wouldn't be asking me that question." Awkward? Yes. Memorable? Absolutely.
There was also the time I met a TSA agent at the airport in Bozeman, Mont. When she realized we were from Bakersfield, she mentioned she was raised in small town in Kern County -- she insisted that I "probably never heard of it." She was a Tehachapi native who hadn't seen the town in 30 years. She asked me about a million questions about who and what was still here and was amazed at my stories of how much the town has grown. Small world right?
One of these days I might put these stories in a book, but it seems like I forget more than I remember anymore.
Good news is I have another season of memories to record coming up.
I'll make sure I write those down as they happen, the old retention-locker upstairs isn't what it used to be.
COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University Bakersfield.