Day 1: Selection Funday!

By Nicholas McGowan, Kelly O’Hara, Ava Khavari

WE MADE IT! While it will not be the highlight of our trip in Los Angeles, seeing Syracuse pop-up as the 10th seed in the Midwest bracket will certainly shock the pundits, the 7th seeded Dayton Flyers and shocked our fellow diners inside Barney’s Beanery. The screams and cheers of excitement filled the restaurant as our group of 23 celebrated the decision made by the selection committee. We even started a “let’s go orange” chant in the restaurant. The 23rd member of our group was alumnus Austin Stevenson, who gave us a quick rundown of his day-to-day activities as the Chief Executive Officer at Gwynndustries Inc. Austin talked to us about the charitable projects he organizes and how they give back to the homeless community of San Diego.

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Our day started earlier, kicking off with a trip to the Hollywood Bowl. Capable of seating 17,500 people, the venue is known for its musical acts yet will not open up until later this year. Nonetheless, the venue boasts a star-studded lineup that includes the likes Brad Paisley, Fall Out Boy and Van Halen among others. During our time there, we saw the plaque dedicated to William Stevens and found that “his vision guided the Hollywood Bowl and the Music Center of Los Angeles County through five decades of excellence in the performing arts.” After our exit through the Zev Yaroslavsky Main Gate we headed off to the Griffith Observatory.

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During our time there, we had the opportunity to take in the breathtaking views and realized the magnitude that is Los Angeles. Gazing upon the city and all that it encompasses was certainly breathtaking. Members of the group took this opportunity to FaceTime with family and friends and share the sights. The inside of the Griffith Observatory had a variety of exhibitions explaining the various phenomena’s that occur in our solar system, such as the moon cycle and planetary rotations. A personal favorite exhibit displayed the periodic table of elements on glass boxes that possessed the elements themselves. We concluded our time there with a group photo, adding it to the collection.

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A meeting with NBA and UCLA legend Bill Walton was next on the schedule but unfortunately he had to cancel. He is feeling under the weather so we wish him the best.

Next, we made our way over to Venice Beach in light of the Bill Walton news and were able to enjoy our time walking in the sand, dipping our toes in the sea, and even chopped it up a with street vendor about the Cleveland Brown’s chances for next season and their lack of an elite quarterback. We ended the day driving up the coast of California to Santa Monica.

While at the pier, our group was walking along the pier and we had the pleasure of running into our potential mascot for the trip. Sammie the Seal, as Jessica named him, was waiting in the water for fishermen to throw back in their catch. Foods trucks were very present, ranging from burgers and hotdogs to Korean fusion, while the restaurants and shops along the Promenade were very enticing. Some of us stopped by Joe’s Pizza- a New York born and bread pizza shop that imports water from NYC to make the perfect dough.

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We all gathered at Barney’s to watch the selection show and partake in air hockey, pool and table shuffleboard. After a few rounds the team of Nick, Michael, Morgan and Keith drew the team of Professor Veley, Austin, Justin and Jack by a score of 14-14. Everyone had so much fun at the restaurant and it was a great bonding experience. There were big screen televisions everywhere, great food, and we even got to eat upstairs on a reserved floor thanks to Professor Veley. We headed back to the Garland hotel for a swim and walk around the block as we prepare for an early day tomorrow. Meetings are scheduled with NASCAR, UCLA and Mandalay sports, before we finish the day in Hollywood. Our first full day in Los Angeles was certainly fun and entertaining, as was our first night!

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Yesterday we arrived at LAX around 1pm. Justin Harlow was also given a pair of pilot’s wings to commemorate his first time flying. We got to spend the night at LA Live and unknown to us, we witness lived dance auditions for the Los Angeles Sparks while some got their first taste of LA. The weather has been amazing, everyone is so happy to be here and we are even more excited about what is to come. Stay tuned to learn more about our unique and exciting experience in LA!

Make sure to follow our adventures on Twitter and Facebook!

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Departure!March 12th, 2016
LA here we come!
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