November 28, 2013

Bobcats Invade the Northwest: Snow-Globe Wednesday

Follow along with the Bobcats Go West Blog this week as the Lees-McRae College women's basketball team embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Fairbanks, Alaska to play in the North Star Invitational, hosted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Wednesday, November 27

Well, it was a snowy and cold Wednesday in Fairbanks that started before the sun came up.

The team had a two-hour practice beginning at 8 a.m. When we walked out to the van, the temperature was reported to be two degrees Fahrenheit with snow falling. While in the gym for practice, a university employee blew the snow off sidewalks. However it only took a few moments for the concrete to be covered again. That proved to be a theme of the day: snow! It fell all day throughout Fairbanks and the surrounding area.

After practice and changing at the Westmark Hotel, our host Chuck Vogle led us on a path out to Chatanika Lodge (http://www.chatanikalodgeak.com/). The trek out was not an easy one with slopes of seven to eight percent grades in a snow storm. The lodge is near a gold mining area that saw over $70 million found between 1926 and 1957. The restaurant had a collection of $1 bills that visitors had signed and stapled to the walls and ceiling. Following tradition, we all signed a $1 bill and stapled it to a post of knotty wood.

On the way back to Fairbanks, we stopped for a snow picture that also turned into a miniature snowball fight. Further down the highway, we found a spot where you can take pictures and see a portion of the 800-mile long Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Thanks to the snow, many could reach up and touch the 48-inch diameter pipe. More snow fell, not from the sky, but in the form of snowballs and from people shaking trees.

Upon return to the Westmark, we relaxed until the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational banquet which started at 6 p.m. We had a Thanksgiving feast with the other teams, Dominican (Calif.), Wayne State (Neb.) and host Alaska Fairbanks. The group heard from Mike Sfraga, Alaska Fairbank's Vice Chancellor; Brian Rogers, UAF Chancellor; Dr. Gary Gray, UAF Director of Athletics and Bart LeBon from Mt. McKinley Bank.

Everyone got into line after their speeches for turkey and other items. While everyone finished eating the meal, the coaches introduced their team and had players speak and teach us more about their programs. Dominican went first before Michele Williams talked about Lees-McRae, and Alyssa Munson, Tayler Collins and Kabrina Truesdale took to the podium afterward.

The banquet was over around 7:30 p.m. then it was another group photo opportunity at the Christmas tree in the lobby.

Thursday might be Thanksgiving, but it is also game day for the Bobcats. We will have a walk through at 8:30 a.m. before the 2 p.m. contest against Wayne State, and their 5-0 record with an average margin of victory of 37. During the banquet, everyone in attendance learned that Wayne is the home of the Chicken Show. The Bobcats will do all they can to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season to start the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational.