Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Final Four - Houston Texas - March 31st- April 5th

We flew out on March 31, at 4:40 pm rented a car and then checked into our hotel. On Friday April 1,  we headed to the fan fest.  We didn't know what to expect, so didn't show up dressed prepared.  We should have warn tennis shoes and clothes to play all sorts of different basketball and other sports games in.  The fan fest had games to play to earn different prizes and also different stations where you could get autographs.

The line was pretty much non-existent for this guy -- so we hopped in and got his autograph.  The fact that I can't even remember who it is demonstrates why there was no line.

Hakeem Olajuwon

April 2, 2016
The Houston skyline

The next day we went prepared to play some games. We got to go in an hour before it opened to the public with our citibank card.

We saw a few people wearing these "net hats" and wanted one, so we found out we had to go the pressure free throw booth and make a free throw to get one.  While we were in line there were a few guys on a microphone asking trivia questions to the people waiting.  Jake got a couple little items for knowing some answers.  I took a picture of this kid because he was a basketball trivia whiz.  He knew almost all of the answers and so they tried to come up with harder questions and he still new most of them.

We didn't wait in line for Reggie Miller's autograph, but I snapped this picture of him.

We were going to get in line to get Scotty Pippen's autograph, but the line was already longer than the time he was going to be there, so we just took some pictures.

We got to the game plenty early and posted our picture with the right hashtag to see if we would be shown up on the big screen.  Then we heard it announced that if you tweeted your seat number with the right hashtag for capital one that you could win a seat upgrade.  I hadn't used my twitter account for months and had to reset my password just to log on, so I was super happy that I had went through the trouble of doing that when I got a response that we had won seat upgrades and were moving from our nosebleed seats down to the 14th row.

Quite a difference in the view!

Looking back up at our old seats from our new seats!

We were right next to the Villanova fan section.  It was loud and so much fun.  In between games Jake noticed that the parents of a player on the NC team and an adopted one on the Villanova team that had been featured in an ESPN clip he had seen were across the aisle from us.
After the games were over and both NC and Villanova had won, I talked to the father for a few seconds and congratulated him.  How exciting to know that whichever team won, he would have a son with a National Championship in the family.  Even cooler when one of those sons would make the game winning last second shot that will go down in history possibly as the best championship winning shot ever.

Here is a picture from the internet of the brothers when their teams had both made it to the Final Four
North Carolina's Nate Britt and Villanova's Kris Jenkins (in fleece) celebrate reaching the Final Four
Here is a link to their cool story

There was only one small drawback about winning the upgraded seats...  Our friends the Jen and Chris McClain who had moved to Houston from Maple Valley had come to use our extra set of tickets and so we didn't get to sit by them and visit.  We did meet them in between games though.  They got a good deal on tickets and we got a great view of the games so it ended up being just fine anyway.

April 3, 2016
We decided to drop in again to the fan fest --- especially to see Dominique Wilkins.  Jake went straight to the line and even had made a special trip to a sports equipment store to get a basketball for him to sign. I hadn't realized it before, but Wilkins was one of Jake's very favorite, if not favorite basketball player growing up. 
He was very serious the entire time people were going up for autographs so I decided to see if I could make him crack a smile.  I asked him if we was worried that smiling too much might give him wrinkles -- It worked I got a chuckle out of him, but he turned the opposite direction, so Jake couldn't catch it too well in the photo.

I also went and got Clyde Drexler's autograph.  Jake wasn't with me, but I wish he had been because later he told me he didn't want any other signature on that ball other than Dominique's, but it was too late.
There were lots of concerts going on outside as well, but we didn't feel like getting in the huge lines to go to them, so we just went back and relaxed in our hotel.  I also had time (and internet) to work on our family blog book for 2015.

Monday April 4, 2016
The Championship game was the single best college basketball game I have ever witnessed.  We were back up in our nose bleed seats, but it didn't matter too much.  We could still see quite well, and the energy was amazing.

Michael Jordan was in attendance and there were quite a few people inducted into the college basketball Hall of Fame.

Before the game I told Jake, I don't really care who wins, I just want an exciting game.  We definitely got that... with a few seconds left NC was down by 3 and I said to Jake -- "I hope they hit a 3 so we get to see overtime."  He replied, "I hope they hit a 3 and then Villanova comes back with a buzzer beater."  Which is exactly what happened.

Villanova's Kris Jenkins hits a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat North Carolina 77-74 to win the national championship

April 5, 2015
When we got home we shared some of our fan fest loot with the kids. We had made sure to go through the pressure point free throw shot enough times for all the kids to have a net hat.

Sydney Durtsche won the Hyde family bracket challenge.

Beau Kissinger won the Lewis vs .Kissinger challenge.  We picked him up a t-shirt while we were in Houston.

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