Twenty-nine high school football players plus a 22-hour bus ride equals a lifetime of memories in New York City for the Ishpeming Hematites. For all but two of the U.P. athletes, it was their first time in the Big Apple.
It's all because of the Sports Illustrated Underdog online competition that Eric Dompierre won.
"I'm feeling excited because I get to be with my friends and just have fun," said Eric.
Their reward? A trip to New York City and to sit front and center at the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award ceremony where Lebron James was honored.
The major thing the "city boys" noticed once they got close to NYC....
"There's three lanes, all three lanes are full. It's stop and go traffic," said senior Brad Wootke.
We were about 15 minutes away, but thanks to traffic, two hours later, we finally made it. Once they hit the pavement, the first stop was the Sports Illustrated home office where the boys got a taste of the SI world.
"I think when you look at the Ishpeming story, you start with Eric. And then from there, it spreads out and becomes a story about a team and how that team connects with Eric. So I think really, when you integrate that with the story of the team, people connected with it in a way that was very powerful," said Chris Stone, Managing Editor, Sports Illustrated.
As for the rest of the day, the guys spent it on the streets of New York City, all in anticipation for the night they'd been waiting for, not yet knowing they'd be rubbing elbows with "King James."
On Wednesday, we'll have part two of the Hematites' trip to NYC.