72 Hours

Ask any Ohio University student what’s the toughest part about going to school there, and you will get a variety of answers.

Some will tell you it is trying to stay focused on academics during spring quarter and the fabled “Fest Season”. Others will tell you finding a place to live as an upperclassman or getting a table at Shively Dining Hall.

Another big one is filling the six-week void that is Winter Intercession. Due to the quarters system, students are off from Thanksgiving to New Years. Luckily for me, I was able to get a job and of course, cover some fun events.

My first full week off featured me returning to the $7.65 per hour grind of working in a toy store. While it is fun at times, and the team I work with is great, it doesn’t take many spoiled, bratty houswives yelling in your face at 7 a.m. over not having Just Dance for Kids in stock to realize that it is far from a desirable place to make a career.

To avoid letting this get me down too much, I was able to get experience writing right off the bat over break, covering two big-time events: The annual “City Game” between Duquesne and Pitt, and the 2011 MAC Championship which was held in Detroit, all in a three-day window.

The craziness began on Wednesday, November 30 at CONSOL Energy Center.

This was the first “big-time” event I had covered. After checking in and heading to the media room to get settled, seeing every Pittsburgh sports media member you could think of was surreal. The facilities were top notch. I had never gone to a place that has an actual “media workroom” or a buffet for the press consisting of more than a sandwich ring. My spot on press row was surrounded by members of the Oakland Zoo that made the trek up Forbes Avenue.

The game was attended by 15,580 people, the largest ever for a meeting between the two teams, making it a very unique atmosphere. Though the Dukes fell for the 11th consecutive year, it was still an entertaining game and seeing people you’ve seen on T.V. such as Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon in the flesh following a game was still something that has yet to sink in.

On the way out, I got lost (big surprise, right?). But while I wondered the bowels of the NHL’s newest facility, I got a unique view of the coolest parts of the arena.

Here is a mural outside the Penguins’ dressing room.

The doors to their locker room.

Right across the hall from there is the prestigious “Suite 66”, a luxury box with seats right on the glass next to the bench.

The suite features a clear glass wall that allows the fans lucky enough to get inside a chance to see the players make the walk down this hallway to the ice.

When I finally found my way, I then noticed this unique glass mural at the administrative entrance. It features the names of all Penguins to win the various trophies of the NHL.

After spending Thursday morning and afternoon working, it was back to Downtown Pittsburgh to board a bus at 12:15 a.m. to Detroit for the MAC Championship.

After arriving in a wet snow at 5:30 a.m., I got some sleep in our hotel room before taking in the sights of Detroit.

I stopped by Comerica Park and the cavalcade of Tigers guarding the ballpark.

I ate lunch at the Hockeytown Cafe.

Here is the GM Headquarters, known as the Renaissance Center. Our hotel was located in the middle tower.

I know Detroit has gotten an incredibly bad reputation as a depressed area, but it really was better than I was expected. It was eerily deserted for a workday (a Friday), which probably answers questions about the economic situation there. I still never felt like I was in danger, and some parts really impressed me including Ford Field.

There is a reason why it has hosted such huge events as the Super Bowl and Final Four, as it was a really beautiful facility. Even though this was a much smaller-scaled event, having something like the MAC Championship there made it feel like a big-time game.

It also blew my mind how much cheaper everything was inside. Souvenir drinks ran you back $6.95 at a concession stand, but you get unlimited refills. The same goes for $6 popcorn. I can’t think of an NFL stadium having that kind of deal. Parking was also much, much cheaper than what I was used to seeing on the North Shore back home. If you’re short on dollars, you may want to become a Lions fan.

I was perched a whopping eight stories above the field, much higher than I was used to.

The nice part about a domed stadium would be the fact that the press box was in the open, as there isn’t a need for a pane of glass to keep the elements out. It really made it feel as if you were a part of the game more than your typical outdoor stadium.

The game went just about as horrible as you could expect, with the Ohio Bobcats blowing a 20-point second half lead to the Northern Illinois Huskies, leaving the ‘Cats still without a MAC Championship since 1968.

The post-game interviews with head coach Frank Solich and senior linebacker Noah Keller were painful. Adding insult to injury, you could hear the celebrations of the Huskies echoing down the hallway. Though they were still able to make a bowl game, you could just tell this game was going to stick in the heads of the players for a long time.

The loss stung for any member of the Ohio University family, including me. Covering the team all year and getting to know the players throughout the season made it extra hard to swallow such a tough defeat after seeing the student-athletes work so hard toward their goals.

I then returned to my normal life in Bethel Park Saturday, including work the following Monday. After the first bratty customer to give me a hard time, it really dawned on me: A bad day in sports writing, including witnessing one of the worst losses I had seen in my life, beats the absolute crap out of doing anything else for a living.

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About suhlmann12
journalism student at Ohio University. Huge fan of Pittsburgh sports teams

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