CHARLESTON – Ever wonder what it’s like to live the life of a sports writer at a state finals?
Well, here’s a look at what it’s been like the past few days on the way to and at the IHSA Boys State Track and Field Meet in Charleston.
4 p.m. Wednesday: Stop by mom’s house in Amboy to forage, come away with a bag of cereal mix and a can of Fresca.
6:30 p.m. Wednesday: Run into a storm just outside Champaign that included an amazing double rainbow, the end of which nearly extended to my car on Route 57.
9:30 p.m. Wednesday: Venture over to Marty’s, a local watering hole in Charleston, to catch the end of the Heat-Pacers game. Memo to Indy: With the game on the line, do something to impede LeBron James’ path to the basket.
9:30 a.m. Thursday: Outside of O’Brien Stadium at EIU is a “Big Al’s Shake-Up” lemonade stand. Those who have visited downtown Peoria will know why I find this somewhat interesting.
10 a.m. Thursday: Chew the fat with several area coaches, including Polo’s Tom Welty, who is retiring as a coach and teacher after 34 years on the job. He provides me with ample material for a cool story.
Noon Thursday: A cool, cloudy day takes a turn for the worse with occasional rain showers. How appropriate, after the whole spring was filled with that garbage.
6 p.m. Thursday: All done, and now it’s time to goof off a bit. First stop is Dirty’s, a pub with awesome appetizers and, as luck would have, a dude playing guitar who takes requests. My wife, Gwen, requests “Margaritaville,” and he plays it right away.
Staff photographer Alex Paschal joins us at Dirty’s wearing an EIU sweatshirt. I accuse him of being a closet Panthers fan.
8:30 p.m. Thursday: Next stop, the Panther Paw, another local joint, to watch the end of Blackhawks-Red Wings game. The place is full of Chicagoans, and expletives fly when the Hawks lose 2-0. I envision a lot of rats jumping ship.
7:30 a.m. Friday: Back to O’Brien Stadium, with the temperature around 40 degrees. Does the calendar really say May 24? I should have packed a sweatshirt, and maybe some pants.
9 a.m. Friday: Meet official tries to give me the boot near long jump pit, even as my press pass blows wildly attached to the lanyard around my neck. He claims he didn’t see it, but is clearly on a power trip.
3 p.m. Friday: My “slow” day now complete, time for some more goof-off time. Not too much, though – a long finals Saturday awaits.