It’s that time of year when the clocks spring forward, the tulips bloom, the Irish celebrate and the girls go to Vegas. While the latter may require much further explanation, March Madness certainly needs no introduction.
This weekend I head to Las Vegas, Nevada with women who not only enjoy basketball but also follow basketball. It started in 2005 with an email chain and an idea about a girl’s trip to watch the NCAA Tournament. The initial trip culminated with a high roller suite at the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel, a few victories, a celebrity sighting, spirited pranks and many lasting friendships. This year is our ninth annual trip.
Most people do not think of Las Vegas as city to plan a vacation. They envision the crowds, bright lights, debauchery, gambling (winning and losing) and money. The saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” obviously came from somewhere but for me Vegas is about a rite of passage.
Each spring, I board a plane, walk down an aisle and sit anxiously for six hours for love of sport. For my eight comrades and me, Vegas is basketball. It’s about spending time with talented and successful women who share a common goal – for their team to play in the Big Dance. We arrive on Thursday and the initial start of the tournament decked in college gear – some of us fortunate our late 90s apparel still fits – and gather for a pre-game or in most cases post-game weekend strategy. Should the reader forget we are women, we do arrange dinners, shopping and pool action but for the greater part of the time, we watch basketball. We predict scores, ooh and ahh at heroic 3-point shots, hold our breath with four-second clock time outs and rest a sigh of relief when the clock hits 0:00 and the score is in our favor.
Where else would it be acceptable for a alumni from the University of Michigan, Duke University, Michigan State University, UMass and University of Virginia, to sit around the same table and cheer on their team? Let me give you a clue. There are lights – lots of them but mostly those glowing from the LCD and HDTV screens in the sports books, there is food, gambling, free drinks (gambling does pay) and lots and lots of men doing what they do best on game day staring blankly at the great and powerful scoreboard.
Las Vegas is the only place where a fan can be on sensory overload with East vs. West and Big 10 vs. PAC 10, Big East vs. that conference that no longer exists for 24-hours a day. While it’s true the odds are often against us, my friends and I live by this rule of thumb:
We are only as good as the next parlay and the next round of games. We are mothers, wives, girlfriends and single ladies on the prowl. In 2004, we started off the strip and in 2013 we own the strip. There have been four marriages, eight babies, and a few missed trips but overall there have been many more W’s than L’s in the columns of life.
Good luck to all your teams and remember school pride is at stake.
To Nicole, Jess, Em, Hills, Cousin Liz, Cristina, & Jamie and Vegas Bill, thank you for being the best the City of Lights has to offer. We may be short a few originals but it’s great to be back – for the weekend.