Road Trip: Monroe – From the Bird’s Nest
We have a two hour pre-game show now, so any time we're on the road, it means leaving early and getting to the destination early. We figured with a 3:00 kickoff, leaving at about 8:30 would be a good idea.
Gerald Broussard and his wife Julie were traveling separately from us. G had planned to bring his dad as well, but he had to cancel.
We had a guest with us. Tootie Landry does a feature called "Not Necessarily the News" on KPEL 96.5. She has been wanting to do a story on what the broadcast team does on gameday. We were happy to have her as our guest.
Steve drove. I made sure I prayed before we left. He drives almost as fast as he eats. But seriously, he got us there in good time with no issues. For those of you who haven't made the drive in quite a while, driving to Monroe is much easier than it used to be. It is now four laned all the way into the Ouachita Parish city. You still have to be careful in places like Ball, Olla, Georgetown and Pollock (we saw someone get stopped in Pollock) but you now avoid downtown Columbia and can get there in a little under three hours.
I had called Louisiana-Monroe Sports Information Director Alex Edwards prior to the trip to make sure we could get into the press box that early.and he said it wouldn't be a problem...and it wasn't. We went to our booth to start setting up equipment.
Now, you've heard me mention just how high the press box is at ULM. I don't know of one higher at an on-campus facility. Both Tootie, and Gerald after he arrived, agreed I was not exaggerating. The press box also has windows that can be opened by facilites folks. I had asked Alex to send someone to do that. We decided not to open the windows right in front of us because they opened inward and would cut down on our space. We asked to have just the side window opened so we could put a crowd mic out.
Because there was a meeting of the Wasp Swarming Society that day at Malone Stadium, just outside our booth.
I mean, they were everywhere. We got the window opened, put the mic out and closed the window as best we could and hoped the wasps didn't come to visit en masse. As it turned out, I only saw one inside the booth. It landed right in front of me and met its doom courtesy of my cell phone, which did not break when I whacked the wasp.
Saturday, of course, was the day we turned our clocks back for the end of daylight savings time. In Monroe, they turned back the clock three days in order to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Of course, that's in October. I give credit to more than half the crowd who chose NOT to wear pink, since November is pancreatic cancer awareness month. And, the color for that is purple. And, give even more credit. Some ULM fans obviously knew that because many wore purple.. I'm not quite sure what the gold was for, however.
Now, the next part of this has to do with the name thing. Feel free to skip over it if you're tired of the whole thing.
If you know me, you know I'm a little anal about the name of the University when it comes to athletics. I use Louisiana, which is the preferred athletic brand. I don't use University of....and I rarely use UL. And, I have always adhered to the University's wish that they never be called Lafayette or ULL athletically. That's been since the day the name was changed back in 1999.
For some in Monroe, that doesn't sit well. And, the folks at ULM, despite their desire and success in branding themselves as such, seem to spend more time worrying about what the Cajuns call themselves than they do what would be considered by many to be more important things.
Saturday, they took it to a new level.
On their new scoreboard (which is very nice by the way, as is their intro video for the team) the left side said "Warhawks." On the right side, it said "ULL."
Now it should be noted that at Cajun Field, it is the norm for the home team to be billed as "Louisiana" on the scoreboard and the name of the school (example: North Texas) on the other side. But when ULM came to Cajun Field last year, the Cajuns' administration ordered the scoreboard to read "Cajuns" and "Warhawks" out of respect to our guests. And, that really chapped some of the Cajuns' fans who are proud of the Louisiana brand.
A member of the Cajuns' administration asked his counterpart from ULM that the scoreboard be changed to Warhawks/Cajuns. The administrator from ULM refused, saying it was policy not to use the opposition nickname on the scoreboard.
It must be a pretty new policy. ULM certainly used "Bears" when Baylor was in town.
The broadcast went smoothly (and our thanks to the fans in the stands who brought a radio and listened to the broadcast on our Monroe affiliate) and so did the postgame. Then it was time to pack it all up and head home. We said goodbye to Gerald and headed down US 165.
Right about the time we got in the car, the LSU-Alabama game was beginning and naturally we listened. We also stopped at the Sonic in Columbia, which is kind of a tradition. Normally I would have a chicken sandwich (this eating healthy thing is going to turn me into either a chicken or a fish one day) but, since we won, it was a SuperSonic double cheesburger, my first in about three months. (I would have ordered the Ragin' Cajun burger but they don't have it in Columbia.)
I also came across two women in pink tee shirts who had been at the game. I didn't have the heart to ask if it was really still October in North Louisiana.