After thousands of votes and almost a day of driving, it was finally time for what the Ishpeming Hematites had been waiting for: the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year awards ceremony.
They took the day to relax, but not before they made their debut on the Today Show with one lucky guy (Eric Dompierre) snapping a picture with Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of the show.
Only 10 players that were on the trip could go to the ceremony, but the others got ready for a night of gaming at Dave and Busters.
"To go hang out with all your friends in some place you've never been before. It's the best experience of my life, along with football," said Hematite player Shawn Peterson.
The 10 team members lined up on the red carpet, showing off their Hematite pride, dressed in blue and white.
"I feel excited because there's lots of supporters, and it just feels exciting," said Eric Dompierre.
The players were escorted on the carpet by Eric LeGrand, the Rutgers player who became paralyzed after an injury, as Sports Illustrated pegged him as the "Ultimate Underdog". The former athlete shared his thoughts on our U.P. underdog.
"There were so many things that were against him, you know. It means a lot to be here tonight with the champion. Everything they went through, you know. I'm hoping I can give them some motivation," said LeGrand.
Inside the ceremony, the Hematites had what was probably their biggest thrill of all, posing for a picture with LeBron James after he accepted his award.
But, all good things must come to an end. The next evening, as the Hematites packed up the bus and headed home to Ishpeming, we got a chance to catch up with the man who started it all: Dean Dompierre.
"As a father, I want to thank everybody for what they've done for my son. It made my son's life infinitely richer by allowing him and encouraging this group to accept him and to embrace him. I just can't thank people enough for what they've done for Eric," said Dean.
Sports Illustrated had a very nice article about the Ishpeming team going to New York. For that article, click here.