Dec. 21, 2008
What Happens in Vegas...Day One
By Jared Verner - Athletic Media Relations Graduate Assistant
After 24 hours since leaving Kansas City International, the sun rises across the Las Vegas Strip for the Northwest Missouri State women's basketball team at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino. For everyone back home in the Midwest, the morning low today in Las Vegas was about 40 degrees.
We left Maryville at 4:50 a.m. Saturday morning for a 7:10 a.m. flight to McCarren International. A majority of the team chose the back of our Boeing airplane, where Tara Roach happened to pick a seat next to a Southwest Airlines pilot who was flying out of Las Vegas later that day. The pilot had just spent four days at home in Kansas City, and was scheduled to make a series flights the next few days before Christmas.
I got a chance to see a familiar face on the flight, as the Missouri Academy Dean Dr. Cleo Samudzi and his family where also flying to Las Vegas. I spent two years with Dr. Cleo at the Academy, and still maintain a lot of contact with him and the rest of his staff after graduating in 2006.
The team landed at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time where six players and myself got their first glimpse of the Strip as our shuttle bus took the team down the length of the strip to the Circus Circus. After checking in, I proceeded to lose about $8 on the nickel slots before we headed to practice at the Bill and Lille Heinrich YMCA.
But we ran into a Northwest alum in the lobby who we happened to take along to practice. Matt Withers, who graduated last year from Northwest after a four-year playing career for Coach Tappmeyer, is working on a master's degree at Utah State and made the seven-hour drive down to Las Vegas. He met up with women's graduate assistant Addae Houston, who played with Withers three years ago, and Matt Pohren, a graduate assistant for the track and field program, who also made the trip to catch up with Withers.
Northwest practiced next to a youth program on one of two basketball courts at the YMCA. With kids, parents and other YMCA members walking by, it provided a unique opportunity to show Las Vegas a little bit of Northwest. After a solid practice, the Bearcats headed back to Circus Circus for their first night in Las Vegas.
After dinner, the players split to view the Strip in groups before joining together again to see a show. I experienced the Strip with Addae, Matt and Matt and got a chance to see the Bellagio Fountains, which I would highly recommend to any future Vegas tourist.
My group made our return to the hotel at about 1:30 a.m., providing me with my first 24-hour day in quite a while (I woke up at 3:30 a.m. Central/1:30 a.m. Pacific time Saturday to make the trip from Maryville).
Today will be highlighted with a practice session at the Cox Center, the home of the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, before the team heads to St. George, Utah, tomorrow for the first-ever meeting with Dixie State.
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468