If you follow me on Twitter then you know I was in Arkansas last weekend shooting a piece for CBS Sports on “The Best Road Trip Destination in NCAA College Basketball”. If you don’t follow me on Twitter- then well….at least you check on me here!
Anyhow…Enterprise Rental had a Facebook contest where fans voted to help their school win and featured in a piece on CBS to air during the Final Four.
Believe it or not- Harding University won.
Now, as someone who went to a Big Ten school- and not just any school- one with one of the best college basketball programs out there- I was a bit confused as to how a Division two school won.
Turns out, the entire student body and their cousins, cousins voted once a day. Dedication wins people.
So we headed out to Little Rock for part one of the shoot, and then moved along to Searcy, AR.
Searcy is the first DRY COUNTY I’ve ever been to. I didn’t really know those existed to be honest, nor did I realize that to have a drink one would need to travel 30 miles from Searcy. Wild.
We shot at Yarnell’s Ice Cream Factory, and wouldn’t ya know, it was freezing that day. So here I am, one of the few people in the world who isn’t into ice cream- trying about 6 different kinds for the sake of the shot- in an ice cold lab. Thank goodness the GM Alex, was so nice- although he did give me the side eye when I asked for a spit cup like people use in Napa.
Taking out lactose frustration with the blade they use to slice ice cream at Yarnell’s.
Production assistant Mike with GM Alex and Producer Jill post -shoot.
The next morning we shot the “tailgate” at Whistle Stop BBQ. And by “tailgate” I mean, a group that included; the school’s President, cheerleaders, “Head Rowdies”, and other fans. They were all sober, and extremely polite and well behaved. Color me confused! At MSU’s tailgates we did beer slides.
Whistle Stop had all vintage decor, including this straight jacket from a local institution hanging from the ceiling.
After the *rowdy* tailgate, we headed over to interview Coach Morgan and three of the players on the court.
Coach was so sweet, and he actually teared up while talking about his love for the fans. He gave each of us a photo of the crowd to remember Harding by when we went home.
Put me in Coach!
At Harding, the students line up outside Rhodes Field House to get a seat for the men’s game- BEFORE the women’s game. Yes, so students cheer on both the women’s and men’s teams- genius.
Once I saw the stands filled, all of my skepticism was gone. These fans were INSANE. They all had their faces painted, and most of them had costumes on. A handful had mannequin head’s on sticks that they’d wave around while chanting.
It was quite a sight to see…but nothing compared to their National Anthem. The entire arena harmonized acapella to the Star Spangled Banner. It sounded like a church choir.
Lesson of the day: college kids who don’t drink can also be fun and wild.
After a successful shoot, we headed back into Little Rock, checked into our 3rd hotel in 3 nights (not that I was counting) and went to a celebratory dinner.
This was followed by fun with my friends Jeremy and Hadley who split time between Little Rock and Chicago. They took us to the coolest bar I’ve ever been to- it was a dive with three guys spinning, an artist creating and a performer. It was super cool to experience nightlife with things to do besides drink at stare at each other.
The 5am wakeup call and trip to the airport was a real *treat*, and I couldn’t wait to get home. But I will say- there is something magical about the south. The hospitality of the people is something unlike anything i’ve seen in the Midwest.
To watch me suffer thru eating dairy and more shenanigans- tune into CBS on April 6th at 1pm.
Oh, and GOOOOO BISONS!