The world famous Armory in New York City can overwhelm you if you are not ready
Back in the day, LL Cool J rapped "Don't call it a comeback!" BSide Returns! I've been dealing with a lot of drama in 018 but when I was at the Univesity of Kentucky High School Invite in Lexington, I had a few people ask, 'Man, when are you going to bring BSide back? We have been waiting.' That motivated me for a return and what a week to return. It's my favorite week of the indoor high school season -- New Balance Nationals Indoor!
Every year beginning in 2014 I have written a guide to the ultimate high school track meet in America. Last year I encouraged more of Illinois' best to attend this year's meet. It looks like a few listened and have taken the challenge to go and compete. It's one thing to be the king or queen in the state, even have a top mark or ranking, but the real question is, when the nation's best arrive in Manhattan, NY will you perform at the same high level or will pressure bust pipes?
New Balance is like NO meet in America. There is no meet that prepares you for it, not even state. The Arkansas Invite is ok, Vanderbilt is all right, UK Invite comes the closest and that depends on the year. In my opinion, this year's meet didn't meet the atmosphere or competition of 2017. What UK lets you know is that IF you can handle the competition and pressure there and do well then you have a good shot at competing well at New Balance. UK is, to me, a slight preview of New Balance.
Former Homewood-Flossmoor superstar Jaimie Robinson earned high All-American honors in 2017
New Balance can throw you off mentally before you even find a seat. For one, it's held at The Armory, the mecca of indoor track and field. There will be many athletes who aren't prepared for banked curves. If you're not in an event that deals with the curves, the moment you walk up the stairs and go in, the atmosphere will punch you in the face like Black Panther punched Kilmonger. Greatness is everywhere you look. You will see athletes as you walk the stairs that you have read about or watched their highlights walking right next to you. It is at that point that you realize that you've arrived!
The track is like nothing you have seen or dealt with (unless you have run at New Balance before). The atmosphere from the warmup on" The Strip", which is basically a hallway with a couple of lanes, speed from everyone with a lot of mean muggin' and sizing up of athletes. If you're soft, this isn't the place for you. When the gun goes off, you instantly have hype music in the background as you're running your race. Even the parents and coaches want to run a few meters when the music starts. The fans are the best! Knowledgeable! They cheer for everybody regardless of where you are from. You can't really tell when an athlete has won or lost. Why? Because once your event is over, the main hall becomes a dance floor. It's like a party for the rest of the meet. Athletes in dance off repp'n their state, music pumping, everyone smiling and laughing and just having a good time. Everybody knows I hate losing period! This is probably the only meet I could've attended and dealt with losing easier when I was a high school athlete.
The recipe for success: Make sure you get there for open track the day before your event. You won't touch the track until it's real if you don't. Last year, an athlete had a medical problem and they closed it before we got there. I begged and charmed my way with the woman in charge and she let us have fifteen minutes on the track. We had the track to ourselves. It made things a whole lot easier the next day. So get there, take in the atmosphere (Oh, and get your backpack early if you can, don't change your routine and what has made you successful up to this point of the season. In other words, don't change what you do because it's New Balance. As the Philadelphia 76ers have told their fans for years -- Trust the Process! The heat sheets mean nothing! Last year when we found out our heat, we did homework studying and analyzing videos of our opponents on YouTube. That's cool and all, but ultimately no matter their rank or position, they have to perform that day and do it against YOU! Even the so-called great ones have to perform. You might even have an athlete from another country in your event. We did and it didn't matter. They can get beat just the same. Nobody gets a pass at New Balance! Lastly, stay mentally tough and focused. This is a business trip! Enjoy the atmosphere and all the site seeing NY has to offer AFTER you've handled business. You may not be back again. If you're a senior, well you definitely won't be back.
Illinois athletes look to be in great positions in the ranking and some HUGE matchups can take place vs the nation's best. Illinois is and has some of the nation's best! I won't be there in person this year (should've been, but out of my control). It doesn't matter though, because I have a great couch to watch the BEST high school indoor track meet in America -- New Balance.