Note: USA Wrestling Trainee Adam Engel will be posting short blog posts daily as he attends the USMC Junior & 16U Nationals competition for the first time.
July 16 A lighter preparation day entered the first day of work.
There was not much work to be done on Friday with most of the event preparation complete.
Gary and I carried merchandise from Sam’s Club—boxes of M&Ms, Skittles, and cheese balls (everyone’s favorite), among other things for media hospitality food.
In preparation for the biggest wrestling tournament in the world, the work goes beyond accommodating wrestlers and their families. For the USA Wrestling communications team, that means taking care of the 100 certified members of the media and providing them with the resources to cover the event.
So, Gary and I were assigned one of the “major football dressing rooms” for our media workroom. It looked more like the one they use in the North Dakota High School leagues instead of the North Dakota State football locker room. That luxurious room across the hall behind locked doors.
We set up all the chairs and pulled out several extension cords and power strips. I went and grabbed a roll of duct tape and fixed all the extension cords.
Media workroom = complete.
Then, I wrote the preview for the first day of work and we were out of Fargodome in the afternoon. From there, I took some time off and nap for two hours. It was a much needed nap.
With the evening free and an avid sports fanatic, I decided to walk across the street to Newman Outdoor Field – home of the American Professional Baseball Association’s Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. Friday night at the stadium. What could be better? I grabbed a long hot dog and poured it into a hot dog and ketchup. I stayed six rounds but only left because I wanted some extra sleep with an early wake up time.
For me, the lights were out around 10:30 PM
6:25 a.m. Saturday: Welcome to Fargodome. Coral Sugiyama, a former women’s national team member and former USA Wrestling Communications trainee, arrived late last night. You will be the third member of our crew this week. We beat a few event staff to the plaza and made snacks for the media and did other prep stuff.
Suddenly I saw him. Hundreds of wrestlers, defining their team’s bright and distinct colors, took their places in the stands. At seven in the morning I got my first glimpse of the chaos of Fargo. The mats were open for exercise. They rushed down the stairs to the mats and it wasn’t long until the gladiators closed the passage from the stands to the mats.
The biggest wrestling tournament on earth has begun
View of the house panel from Newman’s Outer Field in Fargo, ND, Photograph by Adam Engel
Thursday 14 July Windshield wipers, lost keys, heavy rain
It all started with the windshield wipers.
As a communications trainee at USA Wrestling, one of the main rides is Fargo, ND for the 16U and Junior Nationals. My boss, Gary Abbott, director of communications for USA Wrestling, arrived in Jamestown, North Dakota, after a smooth ride from Denver. The adventures began with our rental car on a 90 minute drive to Fargo. A barely fine mist spread across the windshield of our rental Ford Escape.
Immediately, Gary was annoyed that he could not turn off the rear windshield wipers. New car rental. New buttons. confusing. You know how it is. He tried and tried but eventually gave up on the job. So, it went about 50 miles with the rear windshield wipers sliding back and forth. At this point, the rain stopped.
In an effort to help my boss, I researched a YouTube tutorial on how to turn off the wipers in this particular car. I followed the instructions and…nothing. After about a minute, my neighbor tried again and guess what? It worked. Gary’s touch.
When it started raining later in the day, he could use his newly acquired skills. Once in town, we stopped at Fargodome to pick up our media credentials and room keys. (Stay in dorms with other employees). Everything is great except when I got to the little envelope for my key, I didn’t feel anything. shook him upside down.
Gary and I headed to the NDSU Residential Life office and finally got a key back, but a few extra minutes were spent trying to find the building. (Thanks to road closures and bends).
We left our bags and went to the grocery store to buy groceries for the week and get snacks for the media.
A note to yourself: Don’t wear your Fargo media credentials to Walmart or you’ll be mistaken for an employee. Twice in 20 minutes. No, I don’t know where the granola is or the storage bags. I’m new here like you.
Gary and I got back to the rental car in the pouring rain. Once again, great use of the rear windshield wipers. We weren’t the only ones overwhelmed. The Oklahoma team arrived in two rented buses and the wrestlers took their time in the rain. They have enjoyed it.
I enjoyed my first day in Fargo. Wrestling isn’t until Saturday. But who cares? I’m having a really good time.
The FargoDome two days before the start of the 2022 USMC Junior/16U Nationals. Adam Engel’s photo.