NCAA Weekend is a magical time. Lots of excellent wrestling to watch, good people to hang with, and cool cities to check out. Before it begins, it seems like there is a lot of free time and that you’ll be able to make it all work out, but there is a lot to try to pack into a small amount of free time, especially when you consider how tired you often are after a series of long sessions. This most recent one in Pittsburgh was one of my favorites for sure, and it was a blast hanging with the crew that I was with, but I’ve been through a handful of these now, and there are a couple things you can do in the future to really maximize the experience. I’ve been to enough events at this point where I feel like I have the credibility to be somewhat an authority on this subject. Before you attend your next multiple day wrestling event, be sure to read these quick tips, and plan your weekend of wrestling and fun accordingly.
It’s important to first figure out where your lodging is with relation to the event center. If it’s going to be a 25 minute walk, or drive into town, you certainly need to incorporate that time into your plans. In some instances, a long walk is a great situation to be in, because you can establish locations along the way to frequent for food and drinks, whereas if you’re commuting into the area, you need assistance locating places to check out. That being said, it’s also nice to have a place to get out of the city as well, but really it’s personal preference. If you have the time and energy, get up before the events start, and get some ask the locals for good places to check out. Locals, more often than not, will provide you with some good locations, and minimally will give a direction to start in. Just know that there are pro’s and cons to both, and it’s important to establish first and foremost, where your headquarters is, and how it affects the rest of your trip.
Have a plan
This seems like a generic enough way to begin this, but let me elaborate. The tournament itself has a very specific and deliberate schedule. You know exactly when each session will begin, and what to expect in each. For example, plan with your crew where everyone is going to meet after sessions. It’s also important for someone to either volunteer, or be directed to leave and find a table at the food/drink establishment you’re about to check out. Too many times have I played the scramble game where we are trying to figure out A, where we are going, B, where everyone else is, then C, having to change the spot over and over based on how long the wait for a table and food ends up being. In Pittsburgh we ended up at a place that was called Molinaro’s, only to find out that Frank didn’t own it, and we had a waitress who was both the best and the worst. $80 and a couple drinks and some spaghetti later, we decided that we weren’t going back to Molinaro’s. Though it was a fun experience, it could have been avoided with a better executed plan.
Schedule your events
If you have things you know you will want to do, or people you would like to meet up with, get it scheduled. NCAA’s are a cool time and place to see and meet up with people who you aren’t geographically close to, and affords the small windows to do so. However, coaches, athletes, and media members, not to mention fans, all have competing obligations, and without scheduling something or someplace specific, it’s tough to make sure it happens. Again, I had a great time in Pitt, but I know there were people I had hoped to see, and before I knew it, the finals were over and it was going to be tough to get everyone together. It seems like those three days are long and that there is a ton of opportunity to meet with everyone, but without making plans, these meet ups won’t occur by happenstance.
That’s pretty much it. It’s a much smaller window than I remember. I had an EXCELLENT time in Pittsburgh, and had a blast with our house crew, and watching the events, but I also missed out on doing a couple things I would have liked to accomplish. Anyway, maximize your experience with these few bullet points.